PETTICOAT JUNCTION, S.C. -- As a spectator, trying to keep up with Marcus Jones on the track can be difficult unless you look really fast.
In a flash the Silver Bluff sprinter could be finished and in the stands sitting next to you. Spectators at last week's Region 6-AA track and field championships experienced it first hand.
Jones' time of 10.69 seconds in the 100-meter and 22.4 seconds in the 200-meter dash were tops, and his 400 meter relay team's time of 43.28 seconds also earned first-place honors.
The junior garnered region athlete of the year honors for these exploits and will now take his speed to the Class AA lower state meet today at Edisto beginning at 11 a.m.
"He was, by far, the most impressive runner at that meet," Bulldogs coach Jody LeCroy said. "He usually runs better toward the end of the year. He's definitely gotten a lot faster in the 100-meter run."
Jones has spent the season trying to make amends for last year's outing in the state meet in the 200, when he finished a disappointing last after pulling up midway through with a hamstring injury.
The 5-foot-10, 173-pounder also suffered a setback in football last season when he was the Bulldogs' leading rusher before going down with a knee injury four games into the season. While injuries often can slow down athletes, it's been the exact opposite for the running back .
"Both of them have just pushed me to work harder," the junior said of the injuries. "I worked hard to get stronger and don't really have any goals other than to do my best and make state. Once I get there I'll definitely try to win."
This time a year ago, Jones' best 100 time was 11.1 seconds, but the Bulldog has come out this season running a consistent 10.8 (100) and 22.6 (220), making him the favorite in those events today.
He teams with Citadel signee Nathaniel Mahoney, freshman Troy Williamson and all-area basketball player Brandon Key to form the region 400-meter championship team.
Williamson is one of Jones' strongest competitors, running a 10.9, good for third place in the region meet.
But Jones' strongest opponent could be himself as the junior streaks down the track each meet trying to better his previous run.
"He works hard and knows what he has to do," LeCroy said. "He's gotten a lot stronger and has a good chance to make some noise."
Patrick Green can be reached at 648-1395.