Friday, February 18, 2011

Charles in Charge at Indoors

No one expected a marathon on the first day of the A-Sun Indoor Track & Field Championship except maybe Charlene Charles and her head coach Ron Grigg.

The JU standout dominated competition from the sound of the gun to start the pentathlon at 8:30 a.m. until her final leap in the high jump at 7 p.m. In between, she competed in five events where she racked up 28 points to stake the Dolphins a 25-point lead at the conclusion of day one.

Watch Charles Video Interview

“I knew today would feel like a decathlon ,” reflected Charles. “The combined events are my specialty so that is ok with me. But I am tired though.”

Anticipating a hard charge from River City rival UNF, Grigg used his entries aggressively in an attempt to run the team’s championship streak to six-straight titles. That meant a heavy dose of Charles.

“The University of North Florida is a very good team and we are trying our best to win the championship,” Grigg state while discussing his liberal use of the standout. “We needed to put up a lot of points and try to get away from them a little bit before the end of the meet. I’m not sure we can match them in the 5000-meters and the 4x4 (1600m relay). Plus she is really good.”

She makes that evident when you review the quality of today’s effort. A record-setting performance in the pentathlon opened the onslaught. Charles followed with a second place showing in the long jump. The sophomore then posted the second-fastest time in the 60m hurdle preliminaries and won her heat in the 60-meter dash preliminaries before claiming the high jump title as well. Her 28 points would outscore over half of the teams by itself.

“Not only is she talented, but she is also fiercely competitive. That is a big part of what makes her so good,” commented Grigg. “I wanted her to take a couple fewer long jumps to conserve energy, but she wouldn’t stop because she wasn’t winning. She is an inspiration to the rest of her team.”

Charles sees more work on the horizon tomorrow as she will appear in the triple jump, 60m dash finals, 60m hurdles final and the 4x400m relay. Despite the long day on Friday, Charles thinks she will be ready for championship Saturday.

“I need to take care of myself mentally and physically tonight. With the right preparation, I will be able to go 100 percent tomorrow,” stated Charles.

With North Florida lurking, another MVP-caliber effort may be needed from Charles for Jacksonville to lift another trophy.

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