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Aiken's Jones signs with Columbia College track and field

May 30—Aiken High track and field coach John Hostetler has noticed something about Kezia Jones ever since she joined the Hornets as a middle schooler.

He saw in her a willingness to perfect her craft, whether that meant taking the extra time in practice or going to camps to learn from others in order to steadily make herself better and bouncing back from setbacks.

That continued growth wasn't only noticed by Hostetler. It also led to an opportunity for her to continue her track and field career at the collegiate level. On Wednesday she was honored at the school with a signing ceremony celebrating her commitment to Columbia College.

"She's got drive," Hostetler sid. "She has internal drive, especially if you want to try to be on Aiken High track and field for six years. It's been a blessing to see her grow. She has leadership abilities that have pushed over into the field with other kids. It's going to be hard to replace her and a lot of her teammates who've been over here for many years. It's going to be hard to see, but it's great to see them move on to new things."

Jones joined the program as a seventh-grader and tried out a variety of events before ultimately finding her niche as a discus thrower. She's a multi-time region champion in that event, and she'll continue to do that in addition to the other throwing events for the Koalas.

"I was practicing with the throwing coach at Columbia College, and he's a very good coach," she explained. "I was, like, 'I would really like to continue doing track and field at the college level.' So I decided to go there. He said he would offer me a scholarship and stuff like that. They have a good program. They have a good track team, also, so that also was a big factor to being there."

Jones already knew she wanted to go to school in Columbia because she likes the city and it would have her closer to her sister, so it's a big bonus to be able to continue throwing there. She wants to study public health so she can work in the medical field and be able to help people.

She said she's learned a lot from her teammates and coaches during her six years with the Hornets, during which they extended their region championship winning streak to nine consecutive years.

"I really love the team. There's nothing more that you could ask for," she said. "It's really nice, and they're very caring. There's a lot of effort and hard work that goes into our year, and it really structures people to become the best at what they do. I love that about Aiken High, and I'm glad that I had my six years with them."

While discus is her specialty, Jones expects throwing coach Cornell Sneed to have her at least try out the other events — shot put, weight throw, hammer and javelin. Hostetler expects her to meet that challenge head-on.

"At Aiken High, we've made them do that all the time," he said. "Kezia used to run the 100 (meter) for us. Last year or the year before, she ran the 100 for us and ran the 4x100 before and still threw. That's something we do a lot here is make them not center on one particular event. "