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Posted 03 Jun 2001   For week ended May 18, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 30May01

By Paul Carter

From above The High Bar: A Mission is in Sight

SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA -- After Jon Willison of Santa Rosa Junior College cleared a school record 7' 2'' in the high jump on May 11th, a reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat wanted to know what had happened for such a strong first place finish in the Northern California Track and Field Championships that day. After all, Jon's previous personal best was 4 inches lower--at 6' 10". Jon's lifetime high jump goal until then had been to jump 7 feet.

Jon Willison, a freshman, simply explained, "It took a lot of determination and practice. There was a little problem in my approach and I hadn't been hitting the marks the way I should. That day, I did."

His coach, Bob Lynde adds, "He didn't have to do long jump, triple jump and any runs this year. He just focused on high jump. That saved his legs."

Suddenly, there is considerable discussion about Jon's future in the high jump. Said track official Michael Leonard: "This will put him in the upper 5 percent or even higher than that in the country."

Jon has previously been contacted by several colleges and universities, including BYU. He could be within reach of training for the Olympic Trials, where jumpers last year cleared 7' 5'' and 7' 7". At the time of the newspaper interview, all eyes were on Jon to see if he would win the California Community College Championships the following week (he took 4th at 6' 10.25".)

But Jon is very specific about his plans for the immediate future, saying, "Even though universities want me to come there, they're not my top priority. My God comes first. I feel I need to take two years off to spread the word about Him and high jump can take a seat on the back burner for that time."

Regarding the talk about the Olympics, Jon says, "I think it's a pretty neat compliment. If I really put my heart into it and do my best I think I could make it."

Mark Leonard, the track official comments about Willison's personality and his desire to serve others, saying that Jon returns often to his former high school to assist with coaching and at meets. Says Leonard, "It's not a 'me, me' situation" with Willison. "He is one of the most unassuming and gracious athletes I have ever met. As a result of this outstanding performance, he has brought himself to a place where he can literally write his own ticket."

Jon Willison is reserving the first stop on that ticket as the Missionary Training Center.


A leap of faith
Santa Rosa CA Press-Democrat 18May01 S2
By Leah Etling: The Press Democrat


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