Athlete. Shona Jones Smith didn’t wait until high school to start winning gold medals. In grades 7 and 8 she was an age group AAU national champion in cross country. In high school cross country she was undefeated all four years, which of course made her a four-time Class A state champion. Competing in track and field, she was a gold medal champion in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter runs. In fact, she scored all of Hastings High’s points in the 1986 state meet winning the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Her 1984 time of 4:59.60 rated on the ‘best of the all-time” chart, as did her 10:40.3 in the 3200. During the winter months she played basketball and was a starter for three years.
By Tony Boone, Hastings Tribune – October 2001
Shona (Jones) Smith lives with her husband, Jon, and 13-year-old son Zach not far from Hastings High School. From her home, she sees many of the local track and cross country athletes training for their respective seasons.
“I see a lot of kids out running,” Smith said. “And I can’t help but think about it.”
That’s because running has been such a big part of her life.
During her career at Hastings High (from 1982-86), Smith was the top distance runner in the state. Her achievements in track and cross country recently earned her a spot in the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame’s class of 2001.
Smith still loves to run, except her event today is a three-to-five mile jog with her family’s dogs twice a day. For the past 14 years, Smith has spent her days working at Armour Foods in Hastings. She spends the rest of her time being a wife and mother and fulfills her love for athletics by watching Zach participate in football and soccer at Hastings Middle School.
Smith said she misses the thrill of running at times. But competitive racing is a thing of the past, at least for now.
Smith said she owes a lot of her success in racing to her father, Dick Jones. The two started running together when she was eight years old. Their workouts became the reason her father quit smoking.
He was her biggest supporter and fan, she said, pushing her to always get better. “He was always reading something and finding all these different workouts,” she said. “Even after track practice there was always more.” Her father taught her to never be satisfied with her performance and to always try to improve.
“I was always concerned with bettering myself every time out,” Smith said. “I always ran against the clock, not against other people. I wanted to know every split of every lap and my dad would be there to yell them out. Then I would pick up the pace if I needed to.” Smith said none of her races ever ended at the finish line. “No matter how tired I was, I always kept running until I met my dad,” she said. “I had to see what he thought of my race.”
Smith’s high school cross country and track careers were almost too good to believe. She was the first girl to win four consecutive state cross country championships. Smith also won five individual gold medals in her career at the state track and field meet. Her times in the 1,600 meter run (4:59.6) and 3,200 meter run (10:40.3) are still atop the all-time Tribland track chart. Smith finds that fact somewhat surprising.
“They’ll break them one of these days,” she said. “When they do, a part of me would be a little bummed, but I would be very happy for that individual. I know they’d have to work very hard to beat them, because I know what kind of commitment I had to make.”
As a senior, Smith won state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200. She also won the 1,600 as a junior. Her sophomore year, she was the 800 and 3,200 meter champion.