Joane Pierre had been there before. Two years ago, the Jacksonville standout led the pack with less than 1000 meters remaining at the A-Sun Cross Country Championship before watching some of her top competitors pass her at the end.
There would be no repeat in 2012 thanks to a bevy of support and the maturity that comes with being a senior. This time, Pierre posted the third fastest time in A-Sun history to claim the individual title.
The backbone of that support that carried her to the finish was a family that has seen her race only twice collegiately.
“They don’t get to come to many races so every time I want to make them proud. It was very, very special,” said Pierre.
Her dad Joannem, mother Chantal and brothers Chanvron and Nehemiah made the 45-minute trip to the Buckingham Cross Country Course. Their visit started great as Pierre took an early lead and finished even better when she crossed the finish line nearly six seconds ahead of the next runner.
“We knew when FGCU was going to be the host we were already talking about all the people that could be out here to support Joane.,” said head coach Ron Grigg. “I hoped it wasn’t going to create any additional pressure and it certainly did not. She was really looking forward to having her family see her today and she did not disappoint.”
While she made it look easy, there were plenty of challenges on the course, most notably in North Florida’s Shelby Kittrell who followed closely behind Pierre the whole race and the team champion Lipscomb who is known for its ability to run as a pack and overtake competitors.
“I heard them coming behind me as a pack. I knew they were there and that I needed to run intelligently no matter who came to compete with me today. It was all about running and competing,” reflected Pierre.
Despite the challenges, Pierre had a clear plan coming in and executed it flawlessly.
“As a runner, you don’t control how others run. You control how you run. I didn’t want to run based on how everyone else was running but on how I felt,” stated Pierre. “The amount of people that came to support me was ridiculous. I knew my family was coming but I had old high school coaches and administrators here and a lot of people that saw me compete from the beginning to now. I knew I had to give it my all. It was a finish for me. I started with these people and finished with my last A-Sun meet.”
She must have felt great because it resulted in a perfect ending.