Tony Jones was doing what he loves on Wednesday: preparing York High athletes to compete against elite performers from other schools in York and Adams counties.
"This is the best time of the year," said Jones, who will take 11 Bearcats to the York-Adams League Track and Field Championships on Friday night at Dallastown High School. "I talked to the kids (Tuesday) and told them that it's all about speedwork and getting ready (for the championships)."
Jones, a tremendous competitor during his track-and-field days at York High and Bloomsburg University, displayed that competitive spirit last year when he fought the toughest battle of his life: against cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy, he never lost sight of his goal: to beat the disease and get back with his team on a full-time basis.
Jones won the battle. He's cancer free and enjoying his afternoons at Small Athletic Field helping youngsters be the best they can be in their events.
"I feel great," Jones said. "The only problem I have is a tingling in my one foot. It feels like I was walking barefoot on sand. A lot of good people helped me out."
Stu Krise, who has been coaching with Jones for years and filled in for him last season, is happy to have his friend back in charge.
"Even when he wasn't coaching, we stayed in touch," Krise said. "Depending on when he had his chemo treatments, he tried to get to as many meets as he could last year. He's truly my best friend."
Greg Freeland, who is seeded third for the championship meet in the 100 dash, is grateful for what both Jones and Krise did for him and his teammates.
"I don't think anyone could have run the times they did or jumped as high as they did without Coach Jones," Freeland said. "Coach Krise, I thank him dearly. If he wouldn't have stepped in, we wouldn't have had a track team."
A hamstring injury prevented Freeland from performing at his highest level last year. However, he's healthy this year and looking to "do some amazing things," on Friday night.
"I'm looking to take gold in the 100 and go top three in 200," said Freeland, who picked school colors for his spikes: one blue one and one orange one.
"I was getting ready for indoor track, and I needed new spikes, so I thought why not (one blue one, one orange one)?" he said.
Freeland, who will major in criminal justice next year at California University of Pennsylvania, was inspired to be a sprinter by former York High track star Knowledge Timmons, a three-time state sprint champion.
"I started paying attention to track in 2005 (Timmons' senior year)," Freeland said. "He (Timmons) comes down here sometimes and trains. He's been pushing me."
Freeland and the other seniors are glad that Coach Jones was able to return for their final season of high school track.
"Having Coach Jones back, that made our season so great," Freeland said.
Notes: Red Lion junior Angelica Gonzalez, who couldn't compete in last year's York-Adams League Championship Meet because of a hamstring injury, holds top seeds in three events (100, 200 and long jump) for this year's meet. ... South Western's Erin Harman and Holly Arey enter with the best performances in two events apiece. Harman has soared the highest in the pole vault and jumped the farthest in the triple jump, and Arey has recorded the best throws in the shot put and the discus. ... On the boys' side, Dallastown senior Patrick Reilly earned the top seeds in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. Reilly plans to compete next year at Lehigh University.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.