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Across oceans, over hills: Back-to-back cross-country sensation Molly Jones

Senior+intelligence+and+national+security+studies+major+Molly+Jones+celebrates+her+2023+cross-country+Sun+Belt+Conference+Championship.
Molly Jones
Senior intelligence and national security studies major Molly Jones celebrates her 2023 cross-country Sun Belt Conference Championship.

The cross-country phenomenon who came to the United States in just 2020 is now a back-to-back Sun Belt Conference (SBC) champion. 

 

In addition to being a back-to-back champion, Molly Jones has won four races this season, all-region in the 2022 season and holds the title of the SBC’s “runner of the year” for both 2022 and 2023. 

 

At 7 years old during an athletic childhood, Jones began her love for running in Cyprus Island, just east of Greece.

 

Jones spent most of her life on a club cross-country team in England, which for them, signified excellence in that sport. While her club team gave Jones toughness and grit, the level of commitment and emphasis on the sport intensified in the United States.  

 

Jones found a greater pleasure in running here in the United States for Coastal Carolina University, where she studies as a senior intelligence and national security studies major. 

 

The 2023 SBC Cross-Country Championship race took place on Oct. 28 in Foley, Alabama. Competing in the Southeast region, one of the most competitive regions in the U.S., and facing off against larger institutions motivated Jones. She interprets this as a declaration of, “I’ve made it.” 

 

When approaching the conference race this season, Jones felt a slight pressure due to securing victory the previous year as competitors on the course were familiar with her name. Yet, Jones recognized her coach Michael “Mike” Bianchina for equipping her with solid training she had invested heavily in by that point. 

 

“Molly has grown immensely in the last two years. She has grown from the physical side of things and her preparation has become much more professional,” Bianchina said. “The biggest growth has come from her confidence in herself. Molly is very humble but has grown to see herself as a high-level athlete and you see that from her on race day.” 

 

Jones currently has a personal record (PR) of 16 minutes, 29 seconds, but Jones wasn’t looking for a PR this race– she was simply looking to place. 

 

“At the end of the day, you can’t take it too seriously. You’ve just got to enjoy it. I don’t want to leave college knowing I wasn’t positive during every opportunity I’ve had,” Jones said. 

 

Jones concluded the meet with a powerful finish at 16:37, securing a ten-second lead over the second-place finisher. According to Jones, the win became real when Myrtle Beach lit the SkyWheel on Oct. 31 in teal to honor her gold medal win. 

 

Jones cherishes Coastal because she feels the support of the community from a place she can call her second home. She admires two pillars in her life– athletes who devote their entire lives to their sport and her grandparents, notably her grandfather who represented Great Britain in pentathlons. 

 

Jones is thankful for the daily opportunity to run with her best friends and values the compactness of the team, along with a coach who can get the acknowledgment she said he deserves. 

 

“Mike is creating a legacy and putting CCU cross-country on the map,” she said. 

 

However, Bianchina said it’s just showing the potential the team has already had.  

 

“It has allowed our program to thrive and move forward. It has shown our athletes and recruits that we are preparing at a high level, we expect success, and we will accept nothing but our best,” he said. 

 

Jones will be a fifth-year senior next year and plans to receive her master’s degree from CCU. Jones laughed as she explained why she plans on staying at Coastal for a little while longer. 

 

“I just keep trying to push it back. I want another year to build on and see how far I can take myself,” she said. 

 

Jones is placing greater emphasis on timing as the team heads into the beginning of indoor track season on Nov. 29. 

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About the Contributor
Bryanna Warner, Managing Editor
Hi! I’m Bryanna Warner, a Surfside Beach local and junior at Coastal Carolina University.   I’m so thrilled to be doing what I love as the Managing Editor of The Chanticleer.    I’m a communication major with a concentration in interactive journalism. I enjoy the beach, yoga and traveling!   I aspire to write commercials and also news anchor. Let’s do this! 

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