When Monsignor Pace’s Fredrick Jones walked off the stage after receiving the Class 2A state title in the shot put last April, he took his medal off and put it in his pocket.
It went in a bedroom drawer when he got home until his mother took matters into her own hands, collecting his trophies and designating an area for them.
Jones had become the third boys’ state shot put champion from his school, joining Efrain Herrera (2005) and DeAndre Johnson (2009).
“I wanted to get better,” Jones said. “I’m not the type of person who shows off for everyone.”
Three months later, Jones found himself glued to the TV, watching the world’s top competitors during the London Olympics and hoping to learn from their different techniques.
Upon entering high school, Jones had dabbled in the sport – but nothing serious. His father, Fred, jokes that Fredrick came home one day and wanted to try it. For whatever reason it piqued his interest.
As a freshman without proper knowledge of how to throw, he placed fifth at districts. Jones, who also plays offensive guard and defensive tackle for the football team, started his sophomore season late because of a knee injury.
Upon his return, track and field coach Pearson Sutton assigned him a shot put coach two weeks before district play. His numbers jumped from 44 feet to his state score of 52-4.
The technique, which took around two months to hone, focuses on resting the ball on his chin and trying to whip it, using his legs to explode. Jones’ torso remains straight as he kicks back.
Last August at the AAU National Junior Olympics Championships in Texas, Jones placed second with a then-season-best 54-4.5. It gave him an idea of where he stacked up against kids his age from around the country.
Since then, his routine has evolved to improve his score — his state-best mark is now up to 61-7.5.
On the initial insistence of his father, Jones runs either one mile or one and a half miles before throwing. He watches video of shot putters and lifts weights.
“He’s more focused,” Fred Jones said. “He wants to be good now. It took him to get moving. Now he does it on his own. He’s asking me to take him for lifts. He’s trying to be the best he can be.”
Sutton calls Jones the “Gentle Giant” because he’s soft-spoken and mild-mannered.
The 6-2, 265-pounder would like to receive a collegiate football scholarship and continue with track. If he earned a track scholarship, he’d walk on to the football team.
More short-term goals include reaching 64 feet on the shot put and breaking the record of 65-8.25 by his senior season. Jones wants to not only be the top shot putter in the nation, but the top overall competitor in both shot put and discus events.
At Friday’s Region 4-2A championship in Belle Glade, Fla., Jones finished first in both, qualifying him for next week’s state final in Jacksonville. Last year he finished seventh in the region in the discus.
“He sets goals trying to get better,” Sutton said. “He knows that he wants to repeat last year and you can’t get complacent because there are others behind him working hard as well. Everyone’s trying for that spot of state champion.”