Saturday, February 27, 2010

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same for JU

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – There were definitely some changes for the Jacksonville women’s track & field program this year.

The conference changed the format at the championship meet, upping the number of scoring athletes from six to eight. On paper, this change would seem to favor teams with more depth than JU typically features.

Perhaps even more important was the departure of the best track & field athlete in A-Sun history, Natasha Harvey.

“I made a joke getting on the bus and asked everyone where Natasha was” said head coach Ron Grigg. “We are [known for] winning championships with her as our leader, but we knew we have two very strong freshmen and knew the points would be replaced. The Conference gets better every single year and Kennesaw State (who finished runner up) gets better every single year. The performances are getting closer and closer which is great for the competitiveness of the conference.”

So, one thing did not change, the Dolphins again dominated the competition, cruising to their fifth consecutive conference indoor title. Facing a slim deficit after day one, Jacksonville won the first six track events of the second day to take control.

Joane Pierre, Alyssa Deal, Anastasia Fokina and Alison Ritter swept the top four spots in the mile run to turn a 5.5-point disadvantage into a 23.5-point advantage to set the tone for the rest of the team. The Dolphins capped the rally with Louise Kiernan leading another quartet of runners to the top-4 spots in the 200 Meter Dash.

“We feel like we are a strong team and we push each other every day,” reflected Pierre, the meet’s Most Outstanding Track Performer. “We knew we could count on each other. It was really neat the way we finished that race.”

All told, 17 of 22 student-athletes competing in the meet scored at least one point for Coach Grigg while his sensational freshmen duo of Charlene Charles and Pierre swept the post-meet awards.

“We went about this with the same process: Training hard throughout the year, Setting high goals and Trying to have our best meet this weekend,” commented Grigg.

No offense Natasha (and what an amazing run you had in the A-Sun), but with freshmen like Pierre and Charles leading the way, the Harvey era is officially one for the record books at Jacksonville.

“To enter into this winning tradition as a freshman is awesome for me. I love JU and the team works together so well. I’m just glad to be a part of the tradition,” closed Pierre.

The Dolphins look like staying power will not be a problem.

What individual do you think had the most impressive meet?

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