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By Dan Brood | Photos by Dan Brood

These days, absolutely nothing is for certain.

That said, there appears to be at least a few things you can count on.

Hard work and dedication pay off.

Mother knows best.

And Lily Jones is fast — really, really, really fast.

How fast?

Well, if an indoor track meet in December is any indication, then Jones very well might be one of the fastest high school sprinters in the state — and in the country.

And the Roosevelt High School senior very well could get faster and faster.

“There’s not a ton of athletes that have the physical profile that she does, and being a multi-sport athlete from a cold state, I think that she’s just truly, truly scratching the surface of the potential that she has,” Roosevelt assistant track coach Ben Salisbury said. “She’s improving so much, every year.”

With what Jones accomplished last year, and what she’s already done during her senior year, that’s downright scary.

On Dec. 11 at the Spokane Invitational, an indoor track and field meet held at The Podium, Jones, competing against a field of college athletes, ran to second place in the women’s 60-meter dash in a time of 7.53 seconds, which Salisbury says, to the best of his knowledge, might have been an all-time Oregon high school state record for the event — before Jones would go on to better that time a month later.

“The 7.53 she ran was with no block work before — I think we used blocks just one time,” Salisbury said with a smile.

As for Jones, while happy with that performance, she’s far, far from satisfied.

“Now, once you run a time like that, people are expecting that out of you again and again,” Jones said. “But it’s also like, I don’t want to peak with that — the sky is the limit.”

It sure looks to be.

And not just for track.

Jones, with a competitive spirit behind her friendly smile, seems to excel at whatever she does — thanks to that hard work and dedication. She’s been a three-sport athlete for the Roughriders, and she also could end up being a Roosevelt valedictorian.

“That’s what makes it such a pleasure to coach her,” said Salisbury, who is in his seventh year as part of the Roosevelt track and field coaching staff. “I mean, it’s one thing to have a talented athlete, but it’s a totally different thing to have somebody who is a more impressive person. I think that’s what has made it so much fun. She’s the most coachable athlete that I’ve probably ever worked with, from a compliance and dedication standpoint.”

Said Jones: “I think that nothing comes easy — that’s what makes hard work such an important thing.”

That hard work has already taken Jones on an impressive journey — a journey which now appears to have no boundaries.

Starting with softball

While track and field might be a big thing for Jones now, her first love in the world of sports was softball.

“I started playing softball when I was about seven,” Jones said. “And for the longest time, I was so anti-track. I knew that I was fast, but I never wanted to do track.”

That’s where mom took charge.

“I thought that I was strictly softball,” Jones said. “But my mom (Kelly Jones) made me try out for track when I was in sixth grade, and it just kind of started from there. I fell in love in it. I realized that I was really good at it. Now I look back and say, ‘Oh my God, how different my life would be if I had never ran track, or went to that tryout.’

“Maybe mom knows best.”

It certainly seems that way.

It was when Jones was starting track, in sixth grade, that Salisbury noticed the speedy sprinter.

“I first saw Lily when she was a sixth-grader, and I asked her coach, ‘Who’s that girl that treats every rep like it’s an Olympics final?’ and he said, ‘That’s Lily Jones,’” Salisbury said. “And she was good, but she didn’t stand out like she did later, when she was in seventh or eighth grade. We knew she had a ton of talent, but like it is often with talented kids, they get pulled in a lot of different directions. But just this last year, with her focusing more on track, it’s been fun to see the improvement she’s made — and she’s barely scratching the surface.”

That might be so, but Jones isn’t about to give up softball.

“I think I’m probably better at track, but I’m pretty good at softball, too,” she said.

Yes, she is.

Jones, a middle infielder, made an impact right away on the softball diamond for Roosevelt.

As a freshman, she helped the Roughriders win the Portland Interscholastic League championship with a 14-3 league record (17-10 overall). Jones was a second-team all-PIL selection as an infielder.

“I’ve always been an infielder,” she said. “Growing up, I played at shortstop. In high school, they switched me to second base. I’m kind of a utility player. People are always shocked when I say I don’t play outfield.”

Jones’ sophomore softball season was wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, in the revised, shortened softball season, she helped Roosevelt go 9-2 in PIL play (10-5 overall), putting the Roughriders second behind 11-0 Franklin in the final league standings. (No PIL all-league teams were selected for the 2021 season.)

Jones is already looking ahead to her senior season with the Roosevelt softball team.

“Hopefully, we’re going to take home a PIL championship again,” she said. “We did it my freshman year. Our team is still really strong. A lot of the girls who play on the high school team play club softball with me, so we have really good chemistry.”

That’s right — Jones is going to split her spring season between the track and the softball diamond.

“I plan on doing both again this year,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, I sit down with the head track coach and the head softball coach, and we put together a schedule. A lot of days I split time between both. It’s definitely a lot of work, and it’s tiring, but I don’t have it in my heart to give (softball) up during high school.”

So, which does Jones like better, track or softball?

“That’s a tough question,” she said. “I like to say that I love softball and track equally, because I’ve played softball for so long, so that’s why it’s a little bit of a hard decision for me, but I think that track can take me farther. So, it’s not necessarily that I like one better than the other, it’s just thinking of my future.”

A tough decision

While Jones might love both track and softball, she’s also played a third sport at Roosevelt — volleyball.

She played on the Roughriders’ junior varsity volleyball team as a freshman. As a sophomore and junior, she was on the varsity, playing at outside hitter.

“I started playing in fourth grade, just through school. I never played club, but it was always a PIL thing,” she said. “Then, I continued on, into high school.”

This year, however, Jones made the tough choice not to play volleyball.

“I decided not to do it this year, so I could focus on indoor track,” she said. “I did miss it. But I knew that in order to excel in track, that I had to give it up. Volleyball was always fun for me, but it was never a big passion, like softball or track.”


So, instead of playing volleyball for Roosevelt this fall, Jones trained — and trained, and trained and trained some more.

“I was lifting all the time, running, trying to get into some indoor facilities,” she said. “It was pretty much just lifting and training the whole fall. I can totally tell the difference. It’s night and day. I think about what I was doing freshman year, what I was doing sophomore year, compared to what I’m doing now. It’s crazy, the difference.”

Looking back at the fall, Jones, while admittedly missing volleyball, says she has no regrets about her decision.

“I know that I have to meet a certain time, to get to where I want to be in college, and volleyball was getting in the way of that,” she said. “So, I had to make a hard decision. Of course, I love my team, and I love my coaches, but it was time for a change. I think it was the right decision.”

Swift in the 60

One of the first chances for Jones to see how much her decision to train throughout the fall had paid off came at the indoor track meet in Spokane.

In the preliminaries for the 60-meter dash, Jones turned in a time of 7.57. That mark put her in the final, where she found herself lining up against runners from the University of Washington, Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Seattle Pacific University and Oregon State University, among others.

“I kept saying to my mom, ‘Oh, there are big kids here, there’s big kids here,’” Jones said with a laugh. “So, I definitely felt like I had something to prove.”

Well, she definitely proved that she belonged.

Aaliyah Wilson, from the University of Washington, won the race in a time of 7.42. Jones finished in second place with a mark of 7.53.

“I didn’t really say anything. I was just kind of like, ‘Oh.’ I was definitely shocked. I knew I was going to run a good time, but I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Jones said of her reaction when she saw her time. “I think I was a little bit shocked. Of course, we measure freelap times, but I didn’t know that I would even place second. It was definitely rewarding. I put in all of this time, I quit volleyball, and it’s nice to see that pay off.”

“She probably didn’t get out as well as she could have, reacting to the gun,” Salisbury said of the race. “I think that Aaliyah Wilson, the girl who won it, is probably top 10 in the Pac-12, and she is crazy explosive with an awesome first step. She had (Jones) by a couple meters right out of the blocks, but Lily actually closed, kind of in the middle of the race, and she just ran awesome.”

Salisbury said that based on all the research he’s done, Jones’ mark of 7.53 very well could be an Oregon indoor state record.

“I was incredibly proud of Lily, but not particularly surprised,” Salisbury said. “We record splits at nearly every practice using an electronic timing system called Freelap, and her flying 10 meters and flying 30 meters suggested that she was ready to post a fast time. She’s really just scratching the surface of her potential.”

While Jones’ time was certainly impressive, that might not be what impressed Salisbury the most.

“She wasn’t afraid of all the jerseys around her, all the D1 athletes who are going to school for free,” he said. “So, not to be psyched out by that was a great sign.”

“I think, honestly, a lot of it was adrenaline. I was pumped up, I was ready to go,” Jones said. “Being around incredible D1 athletes definitely pushes you. Totally, it was motivation. I was the only high-schooler there.”

On the right track

Jones got her high school track and field career off to, well, a fast start.

As a freshman in 2019, she won the PIL district championship in the 100 with a mark of 12.61, and she was second in the 200 with a time of 26.21. She finished in seventh place in the 100 at the OSAA Class 6A track and field state championships in a time of 12.39.

Of course, Jones, along with everyone else in the state, saw her 2020 track and field season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As unfortunate as that was, it very well might have been a turning point for Jones.

“I think the COVID year helped get me dedicated,” she said. “Just knowing that nothing is set in stone, that really urged me to get going.”

Wow, did she ever get going.

“It was definitely about being committed,” Jones said. “I will admit, my freshman and sophomore year, maybe I wasn’t dead set on doing track. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it in college or not. So, I wasn’t training year-round. But my junior year, I started training with DeShawn Fontleroy, who specialized in sprint training, and I lifted with him three or four times a week, and of course, there’s Ben. If I didn’t have Ben, I wouldn’t be where I am now. He’s so dedicated and invested in my success. But it really just came down to my dedication.”

That dedication resulted in some impressive results during Jones’ junior campaign, the shortened, revised 2021 high school track and field season.

Jones won the PIL district title in the 100 in a spectacular time of 11.97. She also triumphed in the 200 with a mark of 25.37.

At the 6A Track and Field Showcase at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City, which served as the unofficial Class 6A state meet, Jones stepped up again.

In the 100, she placed second in a time of 11.97, which put her behind only Lake Oswego freshman phenom Mia Brahe-Pedersen, who had a mark of 11.68.

“I had to apologize to Lily last year. It was probably the first time in 15 years that running a sub-12 time in the state finals doesn’t win you state,” Salisbury said. “But she was like, ‘Yeah, that’s great. I love having the competition.’ For me, it was a great thing to hear that she has that perspective.”


In the 200, Jones ran to fourth place in 25.38.

“I just wish I had more time, but I’m happy with how much progress I made in the short amount of time that we were given,” Jones said of her junior track season. “I’m just happy that we were able to run at all. For a long time, nobody knew that we were going to have a season, and that was hard. Sports are a big part of my life, so for a while, it was hard for me just not having anything to do — just training and hoping we would be able to have a season.”

Jones’ times of 11.97 in the 100 and 25.37 in the 200 are Roosevelt school records.

“Records are nice, but I’m more interested in what I can do for myself,” Jones said. “Breaking someone’s record is fun, but I’m more interested in seeing my own personal growth.”

Sprinting in style

As she’s getting ready for her senior track and field season, Jones has taken sprinting — and sprinters — to heart, from runners she’s looked up to, to runners she’s competing against.

“I love Sha’Carri Richardson, I love Usain Bolt. I feel like everyone says that,” Jones said. “Sydney McLaughlin, I love her. I do love Raevyn Rogers — I high-fived her once. It was at a Track Town meet, years and years ago. I’m enamored with her.”

This upcoming season, Jones will be part of what could be an amazing group of Oregon high school sprinters. Jones, Brahe-Pedersen, Sophia Beckmon of Oregon City and Anna Miller of Mountainside, who all finished in the top four in the 100 at the 6A Track and Field Showcase, are all eligible to return this season.

“You could run under 12 (seconds) this year at the state finals and finish third or fourth,” Salisbury said. “It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”

Jones agrees.

“I think that helps. We all push each other,” she said. “Of course, it’s nice to win, but it’s more fun to be challenged. It’s more rewarding to see personal growth.”

Jones is looking forward to sprinting against the talented Brahe-Pedersen again.

“I think that we have a really healthy rivalry,” Jones said. “I’ve met her a couple of times. We follow each other on Instagram. She’s super sweet. I think it’s good to have a person like that.”

The two met up in indoor competition Jan. 16 at the Spokane High School Invitational at The Podium, as they ran side by side in the finals of the 60-meter dash. Jones bettered her previous time, winning the race in a time of 7.43. Brahe-Pedersen placed second at 7.44 — yes, it was that close.

Those are the top two high school times in Oregon history for the event.


As of Jan. 18, Jones’ time of 7.43 for the 60 ranks eighth in the country in the Youth Club results for the 2021-22 indoor season, according to That mark would also put her seventh in the country in the high school indoor season ranks.

As for the season itself, Jones has set some lofty goals.

“I’m hoping to win the PIL championships in the 100 and the 200,” she said. “Hopefully, place in the 4x100 relay this year. We didn’t get to run it much last season. For state, I’m hoping to take home gold. But, of course, that comes with a lot of hard work. I want to have the same success, if not better, than last season, for sure.”

Listening to Salisbury, it would be hard to bet against her achieving those goals.

“She’s really, really explosive,” he said. “She’s got a 33-and-a-half-inch vertical leap, which, if you walked into the guys’ basketball practice and compared that to them, it would compare favorably. I think that developing that is a big, big part of it. But it’s just reps. She’s more intense, and prepared, than anyone I’ve ever coached.”

Balancing act

While Jones has excelled at three sports at Roosevelt, that’s only part of the story. She also excels in the classroom, as she carries a 4.077 grade-point average.

To no surprise, Jones seems to be as dedicated to academics as she is to athletics.

“I understand the balance between sports and academics. Academics have always been very important to me,” she said. “They mean everything to me. Education is power. Knowledge is power. That’s always been ingrained in me. Even with my little sister, my parents have never had to push us to care about school. It’s just been something that’s been second nature to me. I just have always cared deeply about it.”

Excelling at both academics and athletics isn’t easy, but Jones seems to have found the key.

“Definitely, you can’t procrastinate,” she said. “Procrastinating is the worst thing you can do. I never turn in work late — that’s because I scare myself into doing it. If you really care about it, you’ll make time.”

Salisbury, for one, isn’t surprised by the success Jones has had on the track and in the classroom.

“I think that track is a lot like school. You can’t succeed in track without being really, really dedicated, and you can’t succeed in school if you’re not really dedicated and disciplined,” he said. “I think it’s really, really rare to succeed so much in both. That just really speaks to who she is. She’s just the hardest worker in the room, and she has a lot of talent. And when you put those two things together, you get some crazy times.”

Academics and athletics also both appear to be a big part of Jones’ future.

“I want to go to law school and be an attorney,” she said. “I want to do track in college, too. I’m looking at a few places, mostly West Coast schools. I’ve accepted a few official visits from some Pac-12 schools.”

The future sure appears to be bright for Lily Jones — and that is probably something you can count on.