Throwing a shot put has taken Tyson Jones off his Navajo Reservation to places like Cuba and North Carolina this year. The 17-year-old from Desert Edge High School launched a 67-foot shot put throw this season — one in which he was ranked the No. 1 high school junior in the country.
But the 6'4", 288-pound track and field athlete wants more. He aspires to leave a mark that has topped the Arizona record books for 58 years. Tyson Jones is striving to beat 69 feet 3 inches, which is the oldest record in the state.
“I believe I can [beat the record] with just practice, lifting, work harder,” Jones told ICMN. “I also want to repeat as state champion and go NCAA Division I.”
In his bedroom, there are a handful of medals hanging on the wall that say first place, including an Arizona state championship for 2017. Overall, Tyson Jones has 30 gold medals to his name in three seasons. He lives three minutes from his high school, where he works on his technique “just about every day.”
After his track and field season ended, Jones received a prestigious request to represent the United States in Cuba for the 2017 Caribbean Scholastic Invite. He was one of 14 boys and placed second in the shot put and third in the discus. “They asked me if I wanted to go and I said ‘Yeah! Oh yeah!’ It was my first time leaving the country.”
He enjoyed representing Indian country, specifically his tribe. “I think it’s cool to be able to represent that and just show people that we’re athletic. There’s probably a lot more Native athletes out there that aren’t exposed.”[text_ad]Of the experience, Jones says it was amazing to see the diversity among competitors from different countries.
Jones says he became interested in shot put because of the dedication it takes to compete with others his age. He won his first meets in the shot put and discus as a freshman. His winning throws were nearly 20-feet less than what he’s throwing today.
He now spends time on his phone and computer watching “big time throwers that are professionals” with hopes of throwing in the Olympics some day. Outside of throwing, he carries a 3.38 GPA, which earned him a spot on the All-Academic team during football last fall.
Cary Rosenbaum (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a correspondent for Indian Country Media Network. Follow him on Twitter: @caryrosenbaum