Marlin High School athlete places in the AAU Junior Olympic Games

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 7:52 AM CDT
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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) - A Marlin High School athlete recently returned home from the nation’s largest multi-sporting event, placing in the top 10 and top 25 in track and field events.

Praiyer Jones is a football, track and field athlete at Marlin High. He made it to the national stage after placing in the top six in shotput and discus in an Amateur Athletic Union, AAU, regional qualifier meet.

After he qualified for the national games, he headed to the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Greensboro, North Carolina. The games include over 10 different sports from field hockey to wrestling.

To qualify for the national competition for track and field, an athlete must place in the top 6 for running, field and relay races and top 4 for multi-event races at the regional qualifier. The regional competitions consist of about 25 different regions across the U.S.

“It’s kind of just like the regular Olympics for the professionals,” Jones said. “It is fun to be in. We just get a chance to compete and show our skills to the world.”

The young athlete competed in shotput and discus events against about 80 other athletes from across the nation.

“As a thrower, it’s more so technique than just chucking and throwing the implement,” Jones said.

As a recent gold medalist in the state UIL championship, he said that the pressure on a national stage was not an easy task.

“Even though I already knew I already knew what I was doing, I would doubt, like, I need to fix this, maybe I need to fix that,” Jones said.

But, he said he overcame those struggles when he remembered the tremendous support he received from his community.

“I just tell myself that I have people supporting me,” Jones said. “They’re here to support me. They did everything to get me here. They’ve helped me on my journey to be here, and that’s all the motivation I really need.”

He encourages other athletes to also remember their support team when feeling unmotivated and doubtful.

“The best thing I would tell myself and other kids would be to be confident, just go out there,” Jones said. “Everybody makes mistakes, and, as long as you just get back up, just be confident and just make people know that you’re out there, you’re competing, and you’re going into your passion, basically.”

Jones’ passion and dedication to the sport does not go unnoticed.

“He earned everything along the way,” Jones coach, Ruben Torres, said. “I don’t know if people realize how much work he puts in to his craft, not just here in his time with us, but outside the school day in the summer. After he was completing his football work, he was going out and working.”

Jones started his senior year of high school after he returned from the competition this week. His next goal is to help his Marlin football team “finish 16.”

“Finish 16 basically means finish every game, including state, and get a state ring,” he said.

He hopes to play college football or track and field after he graduates, but, if not, he wants to make it back to the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2023.

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