By Thomas Kendziora
Enterprise Journal Sports Editor
Jordan Anthony is a national champion on the track once again.
The Tylertown High School graduate and incoming University of Kentucky freshman will represent the United States at the U-20 World Championships after winning the national title in the 200-meter dash on Saturday.
Anthony went the distance in a personal-record 20.34 seconds, defeating a decorated field of college sprinters at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. He’ll compete as an individual at the World Championships in Cali, Colombia, which run from Aug. 1-6.
“It’s very big to represent the country as an individual,” Anthony said. “It’s very important, especially coming from Tylertown — it’s a little town nobody’s really looking at.”
It’s been a busy summer for Anthony, also a Kentucky wide receiver signee who’s spent the summer on campus. He hadn’t run a race since mid-May while training for football and taking summer classes.
Anthony actually had to make a choice between competing in the U-20 championships and defending his 100-meter title at the high school-only Nike Outdoor Nationals — also in Eugene — the week prior, as competing in both would have put too much strain on his body and schedule.
“I chose the under-20 to run against people already in college or semi-pro so I could get pushed,” Anthony said. “So I could see where I needed to be or what I needed to improve.”
It was an up-and-down weekend. Anthony’s bag got lost on his flight up. His technique was a little off and his hip was popping out of place at times. He stumbled out of the blocks in the 100-meter final, finishing sixth after a second-place showing in prelims. His time dropped from 10.31 to 10.43, a far cry from his season best of 10.14.
Anthony started the 200-meter final in Lane 7 after cruising to the fourth-fastest time in prelims. He tied his hair up, which he doesn’t normally do for a race, as a way of showing he meant business. He flew around the curve and reached another gear on the straight; his split for the second half of the race was a blistering 9.6 seconds.
“I knew he was gonna go for it in the 200… but I was amazed,” said Myreon Sartin, Anthony’s coach at Tylertown and with the XCEL Athletics club team. “And it’s crazy because I know this kid can go way faster.”
Sartin took the trip to Oregon alongside Anthony and went through the roller coaster of a weekend with him. And when his protege punched a ticket to Colombia, he knew what it meant.
“He deserved all this because he worked for it, and by him not making the 100 as an individual, it was like a breath of fresh air,” Sartin said. “That was a big weight off his shoulders for sure.”
Anthony’s speed has always translated to the football field; he was a four-star recruit and No. 9 prospect in Mississippi, per the 247Sports Composite. As he prepares for his rookie season with Kentucky, he’s spent plenty of time in the weight room, which looks to pay dividends on the track as well.
“He’s been doing a lot of strength training, so that’s helping him a lot,” Sartin said. “He’s fast naturally, so the strength just kind of merged with the speed.”
Anthony has found it easy to balance football and track in college thus far. He’s been working out early, taking classes in the late morning and visiting the track in the afternoon. He won’t race between now and his trip to South America, but he’s excited to compete alongside fellow Wildcats sprinter Brandon Miller, who finished right behind him in the 200. Anthony will also be part of the 100-meter relay team thanks to his sixth-place finish in the event.
These World Championships likely won’t be Anthony’s last, as he only turned 18 Wednesday and will be eligible in each of the next two years. No matter how many big events he appears in, though, he’ll always take pride in representing Tylertown and Mississippi.
“Every time I go on a national stage, I think about, ‘I’m not gonna go home empty-handed,’” Anthony said. “I’ve gotta come back with something important so I can show others that they can do it. It doesn’t matter where you’re from — they’ll find talent. If it’s your time to show up on the big stage, you’ll show up.”
By Thomas Kendziora