Saturday, February 27, 2010
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – After coming off a record-breaking season in 2009, the Jacksonville Dolphins are looking forward to a fifth league title in the 2010 Atlantic Sun Women’s Indoor Track and field Championships.
But with the top performer in A-Sun Track & Field history Natasha Harvey leaving the field, no pun intended, JU has managed to find winners in each and every member still on the team.
Head Coach Ron Grigg and the Dolphins lean on the pentathletes to set the pace for another title run. However, a rough start challenged the pentathlete team, as Charles fouled in the shot put and found herself in the last spot after that event. Charles managed to come back in the long jump with a 5.99-meter mark, and finish first in the 800-meters at 2:23.33 to earn a bronze medal in the pentathlon. Her nearest competition in the final event of the pentathlon was teammate Stacey Young at just over 11 seconds later (2:34.47) than the freshman.
“I would like to qualify for the NCAAs, but earlier I wasn’t thinking about my team,” said Charles. “My coach and my teammates talked to me so I’m focused on trying to beat my record. It depends on the situation, but the pentathlon is exciting because it’s challenging and you love it, but you get really tired. We have solidarity on the team because we’re always cheering for each other. It’s a very good team. Today was very exciting, but very early because we start at 8:30 and we have to be here at 7:00 a.m.”
The preparation for this exhausting event in the championship begins long before the day of competition. With an eight hour bus ride from Jacksonville to Johnson City, the team readied itself for a grueling weekend. The pentathletes for the JU Dolphins know among anyone else the difficulties of competition.
“We came over here for a shakeout at 6:00 p.m. and that’s when the preparation really begins,” head coach Ron Grigg said. “The team dinner is from 7:30-8:45 p.m. at the Olive Garden, followed by a team meeting at 9:00. The pentathletes all had time with our massage therapist at 9:30 p.m., which involves about a 15 minute massage before packing their bags and making sure they had everything they need like their food and all of their different shoes. Then they are in bed around 11:00-11:30 p.m.”
Coach Grigg prefers the team to have an early rise at 6:00 a.m. which gives the body a chance to wake up before competition begins.
“At 8:30 a.m. you run as fast as you need to run in the hurdles so the body has to be awake and the nervous system has to be ready. We left the hotel at 7:00 a.m. and were in this facility by 7:10 a.m. so that they again can get some quick time on the massage table. Then we’ll have an extended warm-up. Even though they are good hurdlers, with it being so early in the morning, they have to do a little bit more warm-up to get ready for the hurdles.
The 60-meter hurdles happen to be Stacey Young’s favorite and best event, as she has competed in them for several years. However, Young performed well during a majority of the combined events of the pentathlon. In the 60-meter hurdles, the sophomore recorded a time of 8.81 seconds, good for second place after teammate Charlene Charles. Young tied for third in the high jump with a 1.57-meter leap with Campbell’s Sena Bekric.
The Lithonia, Ga. native also tallied a sixth-place finish in the shot put with a distance of 9.56-meters. In the long jump, Young placed second after Charles with a jump of 5.50-meters. The top-performer then recorded a final time of 2:34.47 in the 800-meters, good for a second-place finish, and a win in the combined events with 3,490 points.
“This year, I PR-ed in all of my events except the high jump, so I think I did pretty well,” Young said. “We all push each other, and we all cheer for each other so we can do our best. I think we’re going to win, but I don’t want to speak too soon.”
Who do you think is the top athlete you have ever seen in an A-Sun event?