BENZONIA – It’s been quite a week for Benzie Central senior Hunter Jones. Over the weekend, Jones capped off an incredible high school cross country career by winning his fourth straight individual state championship.
Then on Wednesday, Jones made his next step official by signing to run cross country and track at Wake Forest University.
Jones, one of the most decorated runners in state history, is also viewed as one of the top five runners in the nation.
At the cross country state championships on Nov. 5, he finished the race in 14:46.50, the second fastest finish all-time at Michigan International Speedway. Dathan Ritzenhein, a former Rockford star and US Olympian, holds the fastest time at 14:10.40.
Jones beat everyone else in the field on Saturday by over a minute. He joins Central Lake’s Ryan Shay as the only two lower peninsula runners in history to win four consecutive individual state championships.
Jones also owns all of the long-distance school track records at Benzie Central and has one more season this spring to add to those accolades.
Colleges across the country wanted Jones to be a part of their programs, but ultimately he chose Wake Forest. He said Demon Deacons’ head coach John Hayes is a big reason why.
“He’s coached Olympians and he’s brought Wake Forest out of pretty much last place in their conference to ranked in the country,” Jones said. “So he’s done a great job there and I’m just excited to get that kind of coaching now.”
The entire Benzie Central student body was on-hand for Jones’ signing, along with some community members.
“Come out this spring and see him in-person,” Benzie Central head coach Asa Kelly told the audience. “Because you’re missing an opportunity you’ll never get again if you don’t come and watch this kid run.”
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