Marion Jones of Rio Mesa High took two large steps Thursday toward becoming the youngest athlete in 11 years to qualify for a major U. S. track and field team.
Jones, a 15-year-old sophomore, advanced through the preliminary and semifinal rounds of the women's 100 meters in The Athletics Congress championships in Randalls Island, N.Y., to earn the eighth--and final--berth in today's final at Downing Stadium.
The four-time state high school sprint champion placed fourth in the second semifinal race in 11.49 seconds, far short of her personal best of 11.17 recorded in the state finals June 1. Earlier, Jones ran 11.40 to place second behind Gwen Torrence (11.36) of Nike South.
The top three finishers in the final qualify for the World Championships, Aug. 24-31 in Tokyo. If Jones can break into the top three, she will be the youngest U. S. athlete to qualify for a major international meet since former Kennedy High standout Denean Howard made the 1980 Olympic team in the 400 as a 15-year-old sophomore.
All four qualifiers from the first semifinal heat posted faster times than the four finalists from the second semifinal, but the times from the first semifinal were wind-aided.
Evelyn Ashford of Mazda Track Club, aided by a 2.9-meters-per-second tail wind, posted the fastest time of the day at 11.06. Torrence, with a legal 0.4-m.p.s. wind, won the second semifinal in 11.30.