Following his NCAA Outdoor National Championship in the shot put last summer, Jon Jones got a few chances to represent the United States in international competition, though he finished a hair shy of earning a spot at the 2015 Outdoor World Championships and settled for time on the undercard Pan-Am Games and NACAC Championships.
At least in the immediate future, he's going to the main event after finishing third this evening at the USATF Indoor Championships, behind Kurt Roberts and multiple-time Olympic Reese Hoffa. With the finish, he earns a spot at this year's IAAF Indoor World Championships later this month in Portland, Oregon.
Jones sat in sixth for much of the event, but moved up to third place on his penultimate throw of 19.94 meters, which built a large cushion over fourth place with only a single round left. Ultimately, he only finished .14 meters from winning and with a .46m cushion over the next competitor. All three top finishers fouled on their final throw.
Any distance that earns a Worlds bid is significant, but today's throw wasn't necessarily Jones' best, even in this year. Competing as an unaffiliated entry at Penn State this winter, he threw 20.82m back on 30 January, so there's a good chance of some significant improvement next week at Worlds.
I do not know off the top of my head - and given the basketball game right now, that's what I'm limited to - if Jones is the first UB Track and Field alumnus to qualify for Worlds or the Olympics*, but he's certainly the first in my memory.
*In their track event. Former UB sprinter Ajla Glavasevic is currently on the US Bobsled team angling for a spot in the 2018 Olympics, but obviously she didn't compete in bobsled at UB
After the World Championships, I anticipate we'll see Jones and a number of other UB names competing at the US Olympic Trials, also later this spring.