CASTRO VALLEY -- During this track and field season, Castro Valley High head coach Dooney Jones practiced scenarios with his boys 400-meter relay team, such as having runners in different lanes taking off before they do.
"I put them through that stuff so they are aware to focus on their running only," Jones said. "They are aware of anything that can happen."
So when Great Oak-Temecula failed on its first handoff right next to Castro Valley's Jalen McFerren and Cam Edwards, Castro Valley didn't flinch. It executed its handoff perfectly and won its heat, and the next day placed second in the final.
Castro Valley finished second in the boys team standings at the state championships, just two points behind champion Mater Dei-Santa Ana. It also won the North Coast Section Meet of Champions title.
For his leadership this season, Jones has been named the Bay Area News Group East Bay Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year.
"He does everything possible to make sure everyone is mentally and physically prepared to compete at any given moment," said Castro Valley's Nate Moore, who has won state titles in both the long jump and triple jump for two consecutive years. "He deeply cares about you as a person. He's not out there for the accolades."
Jones has coached triple jump state champions both at Castro Valley and James Logan, where he was the jumps coach from 2001-2005. Moore is clutch in both his jumping events, a mind frame that Jones has worked on with him.
"I teach him all the time to stay relaxed and stay within yourself," Jones said. "I tell him 'don't try to jump far, try to jump correctly.' That's how you jump far."