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Rayniah Jones’ Olympic Journey Only Just Beginning

Freshman finishes 10th overall at 2020 Olympic Trials, but should be a competitor for 2024

2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 2 Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Despite running the two fastest times of her collegiate career in the 100-meter hurdles this weekend, UCF Knights redshirt freshman Rayniah Jones was eliminated from the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in the semifinals.

Jones finished 5th in her heat with a 12.68-second time. While it may have been faster than the 12.73-second time at the Knights Invite that qualified her for the Trials, it was not fast enough to advance to the Final.

Jones was the fastest of all the semifinal runners that missed the Final, coming 0.03 seconds short of the 12.65-second time that sent both LSU sophomore Alia Armstrong and North Carolina A&T graduate student TeJyrica Robinson to the Final.

Despite not advancing herself, Jones acknowledged the success of all the collegiate runners that competed in the event, a group including Armstrong, Robinson, LSU senior Tonea Marshall, and USC redshirt senior Anna Cockrell, who all made the Final.

“The college girls did so well in hurdles at the trials including myself,” she said in a Twitter post.

The end of the Trials also marks the end of the outdoor track season for Jones. The 100-meter hurdles specialist started her season with a 13.36-second time in her main event and ended it with a new personal best of 12.64 seconds. In almost three months, Jones got 0.72 seconds faster.

“This season, I definitely exceeded my expectations,” Jones said in a Twitter post. “Man, I’m so ready for what’s next!”

UCF Track and Field head coach Dana Boone said after the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships that there is still “much to do” for Jones in terms of her development, including improving her sprinting and cleaning up her hurdling technique.

If finishing 2nd in the NCAA 100-meter Hurdle Final and making the semifinals in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the same event is just the beginning of her journey, then Jones will be an athlete to watch during NCAA Track and Field seasons for years to come. As for possible Olympic dreams, well, she will be a senior by the time the Trials for the 2024 Paris Olympics are held.

“I can’t relay how proud I am of all she accomplished this season,” Boone said in a Twitter post. “While it’s the end of the season, it’s just the beginning of this journey!”