Joane Pierre: Running out a Champion

Throughout one’s life there are many expectations and goals. The mind is full of ideas, journeys to be taken and dreams to turn into reality.

As children, the thoughts of what people want to be when they grow up run wild through the mind. A firefighter, police officer and doctor or lawyer seem to be popular ideas.

Once you reach that certain stage where you really know the path meant for you, you hit the ground running and don’t stop until you reach the finish line.

For Jacksonville University senior Joane Pierre, that moment was as a sixth grader during physical education class. Since that day in Phys. Ed. Pierre has been running track and cross country ever since and the years of work and dedication are paying off.

“I was approached by the P.E. teacher and asked if I wanted to join the schools team,” Pierre said. “Once he explained it to me I thought hey why not, it’s worth a try.”

Fast forward from that moment when Pierre was approached and recruited by her sixth grade gym teacher, to now, just a few short weeks after Pierre has won the Atlantic Sun individual conference title.

Pierre is an 11-time individual conference champion and 17-time all-conference honoree, according to Pierre competes in outdoor and indoor track as well as cross country. The individual cross country conference championship was the first in JU history, all part of the legacy Pierre sprints ahead of.

“She is a pioneer for our cross country program and JU will forever be grateful,” cross country coach Ron Grigg said.

Achieving this kind of success isn’t just second nature. It takes drive, devotion and dedication. Along the way you need to set goals for yourself, strive to reach those goals and then some.

“From the beginning I always told myself, ‘leave a lasting impression no matter where you go,’” Pierre said. “I knew that I couldn’t win every race but I told myself if I can run and make someone say ‘who’s that little girl out there?’ than I know that I’ve accomplished something and in return that has made me exceed any goals that I could of set for myself.”

Like many young adults finding their way through the world, there is a reason behind what Pierre does. That inspirational factor that can make a good athlete into a great one.

“I would say that my parents are my biggest inspiration,” Pierre said.  “They have supported me and taught me that with each opportunity that I get to show the talent that God has given me don’t take it for granted. To see all they have been through yet put so much trust and belief in me I will always be thankful and inspired by their character.”

Along with the moments that define who we are as people or in this case an athlete, there are the people who help mold and shape us.

“Having the ability to trust my coaches and my training, I have been lucky to have been placed with such wonderful and talented individuals who have chosen to make me as one of their athletes, for that I owe them all the credit for who am I today as an athlete,” Pierre said.

Most high school athletes have aspirations of taking their game to the next level. Playing a college sport takes more than just talent alone. College athletics are a whole different breed than high schools sports athletes.

Just over four years ago, Pierre had a choice to make. Pierre needed to decide if she wanted to run collegiately and if so, where she wanted it to take her. That decision led Pierre to the banks of the St. Johns River to Jacksonville University.

From the moment Pierre arrived at JU, she has been taking huge strides all culminating in her individual A-Sun title this fall. Pierre has impacted the university, the track and cross country program and those around her whether its coaches, teammates or just those she’s passed along the way.

“Overall I’ve been placed with a lot of individuals who have made JU all that it could be in my life and more,” Pierre said. From teammates, to coaches, to professors and even some of the staff that works for the university, I am happy that I’ve met these individuals and now I’m filled with friendships and experiences to last me a lifetime.”

“I don’t know Joane on a personal level but as a member of the team she was great,” freshman cross country teammate, Ryan Wagner said. “She was a very nice person, humble and loved what she was doing. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Pierre, who is a senior and set to depart from JU shortly, is no longer on the pre-determined path of a 5K race or 100-meter dash. The new obstacles for Pierre are not those she’s running against but which to turns to take and when to take them.

“You never know where life is going to take you,” Pierre said. I myself am putting all of that in God’s hands. I have nothing specific in mind as to where I will end up but I know for sure no matter where it is, I won’t stop searching until I’m satisfied and happy.”

Following the spring track season Pierre has to gear up for the biggest race of her career: life. All the practice in the world can’t prepare you for the twists and turns that lie ahead in life. If you could prepare for everything life is getting ready to throw at you, things would be easy but it’s not like that.

Just as in sports, your life is defined by those same moments. The eye-openers that shed a bit of light as to who you truly are.

“When you do something that is remarkable and memorable, that’s what people remember and that’s what I think every person strives for… that one moment,” Pierre said.

Cross Country: Season in Review

Photo by Svenya Meyer

The Jacksonville University cross country program is gearing up for the final legs of what was a successful Fall campaign.
For the women, the season is down to its last two weekends, while the men have concluded their season at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships.
The men opened the 2012 campaign with the JU short course duals finishing fourth collectively as a team. Freshman Nick Dale was the first Dolphin to cross the finish line with a time of 18:08.70 for a 14th place finish. Not far behind was fellow freshman Andrew Merrill who finished 20th with a time of 18:49.20.
Next on the men’s schedule was the invitational where the Dolphins finished fifth. The event was a coming out party for Dale as he ran a time of 16:44.80, good enough for sixth. Merrill crossed next for JU in 17th with a time of 17:30.90.
The Dolphins next headed to Tallahassee for the FSU Invitational. Dale finished 95th with a time of 28:41.60 while Merrill finished 112th in 29:32.40. Freshman Ryan Wagner ran a 30:14.30 in his first college race finishing 125th. Each member of the freshman trio was competing in their first 8K race of their career.
The schedule next took them to Orlando for the UCF Knight Attack Challenge where JU placed ninth. Dale again was the first Dolphin to finish coming in 27th with a time of 28:08.95. Merrill finished 39th and Wagner was right behind him in 40th.
The men’s portion of the season rounded out at the A-Sun Championships which saw the Dolphins place 10th. With a time of 27:32.60, Dale finished 53rd to lead the Dolphins. Behind him was Wagner who, in just his third race, finished 66th with a time of 29:10.30.
The women faired much better this season, posting finishes of fourth or better in every meet. The Dolphins opened with a second place finish at the JU short course duals as junior Svenja Meyer and senior Joane Pierre finished first and second respectively. Morgan Keel, Amaila Vogler and Sarah Bailey placed 11th through 13th for JU.
Next up was the Invitational which saw LaTonya Payne finish 17th with a time of 20:04.40 while Bienna Freeman crossed just behind in 18th with a time of 20:08.90.
At the FSU Invitational, Pierre ran wild breaking the 6K program record with a time of 21:10.80 on her way to a second place finish. Meyer finished fifth with a 21:51.80 helping JU to a fourth place finish.
In Orlando for the UCF Knight Attack Challenge, Pierre finished first for the second straight year crossing the line in 21:25.60. The next Dolphin across was Meyer in sixth with a 21:57.46.
The Dolphins ran their way to a third place finish at the A-Sun Championships on the back of Pierre who, with a time of 17:17.50, finished first giving her the individual conference title. Continuing the season-long trend, Meyer came across next for JU in sixth with a time of 17:40.30.
With the men’s season finished, all the attention turns to Pierre and the women’s team. The Dolphins have the NCAA South Regionals on Nov. 9 in Tallahassee before traveling to Louisville, Kentucky for the NCAA Championships the following week.

JU Gains Momentum with A-Sun Championships Looming

Photo Courtesy of Ralph Epifanio

The Jacksonville University cross-country team headed down to Orlando Friday for the University of Central Florida Attack Challenge.

On the men’s side, the freshmen trio of Nick Dale, Andrew Merrill and Ryan Wagner led the team, finishing 27, 39 and 40 respectively.

Dale finished with a time of 28:08.95. Merrill and Wagner were separated by just a few seconds, Merrill finishing with a 29:19.92 and Wagner with a 29:24.16.

Other Dolphins, Will Tirado and James Trebilcock, finished 68 and 71.

“We have had lots of improvements over the past week,” said Ron Grigg, JU head coach. “I am really happy with how the freshmen are starting to figure it out.”

On the women’s side, the Dolphins ran their way to a third place finish behind senior Joane Pierre.

Pierre finished first for the second season in a row with a time of 21:25.60. Behind her in 6th place was junior Svenja Meyer who ran a 21:57.46.

The next Dolphins to cross the line were sophomore Sarah Bailey, who came across in 31 and seniors Morgan Keel and Amalia Vogler finishing 33 and 36 respectively.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have two weeks off to prepare for the Atlantic Sun conference championships on Oct. 27 in Ft. Meyers, Fla.

Women’s Cross Country

Photo courtesy of JU Dolphins

The Jacksonville University women’s cross country team, backed by junior Joane Pierre, ran away with a victory at the University of Central Florida Attack Challenge. The Dolphins tied evenly with the UCF Knights, sharing the victory on Friday Oct. 14.

Despite lacking a full size team with some members failing to show up, the team managed to rack up 88 points, drawing even with the Knights of UCF atop the leader board.

Pierre finished with a time of 21:47:32, earning her the top spot for the second straight meet.

“Joane ran really well and has set herself up nicely a shot to win an individual conference championship,” said JU head coach Ron Grigg.

Sophomore Svenja Meyer posted a time of 22:47:95, grasping decisively onto 6th place. Freshman Sarah Bailey finished 12th with a time of 23:34:60, junior Amalia Vogler 29th with a time of 24:14:51 and junior Alicia Grad-Kaminkow finished 40th with a time of 24:45:23.

JU now has a two-week span to prepare, practice and perfect for the Atlantic Sun Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on Oct. 29.

Come tournament time, Pierre and the team will strive to obtain both individual victories and a group triumph. While there is immense pride in an individual title, for the team, nothing would be as fulfilling as obtaining the team conference championship.

Over the next two weeks the ladies will be immersed in a world of training and conditioning, focusing on their soon impending surge for the title.

Women’s Cross Country Excel

Photo courtesy of JU Athletics

The JU Women’s Cross Country team was back on the run again this weekend in Titusville, Fl. at the Invitational.

The Dolphins had a strong overall showing Friday, September 30, as they placed second in the field led by junior Joane Pierre. She came away with the win in the individual section of the invitational with a time of 17:35.20, two seconds shy of the school record she set.

“This weekend I was more competitive then last weekend, but my main goal is working towards making each race better then the previous one,” said Pierre

Sophomore Svenja Meyer and senior Bailee Hedstrom also chipped in to this strong finish with times of 18:18.60 and 18:30.20 respectively.  Junior Morgan Keel clocked 18:52.90 and freshman Sarah Bailey 19:00.0 to take 11th and 12th place in the invitational.

Friday the women definitely improved in regard to times and technique as they improved overall from last weeks performance in Gainesville.

This was easily one of the strongest performances the Lady Fins have put together this season, and its perfect timing with conference championships at the end of the month.  All around team efforts like this will make them favorites in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“We did an amazing job, we challenged ourselves, and were able to maintain a competitive race across the board,” said Pierre.

Junior’s Amilia Volger, Bienna Freeman and senior Alicia Gard-Kaminkow all placed in this even as well, 15th, 19th, and 25th respectively. JU Head Coach Ron Grigg was very impressed with the efforts of the women that afternoon.

“Today was a huge improvement over last weekend, they knew the goal was to compete and they did just that,” said Grigg

This is high praise from Coach Grigg who has been around for some time now, and coached multiple champions, so hopefully this year’s team will be next in line.

The Dolphins have one more event before what they work all off-season for, and that is the A-Sun championship on October 29. JU will find their next finish line in two weeks at the UCF Knight Attack Challenge in Orlando on October 14.

Cross Country

Photo courtesy of JU Athletics

The Jacksonville University Women’s Cross Country team took part in the Mountain Dew Invitational on September 24, in Gainesville, Florida. The Dolphins were led by strong performances by senior Bailee Hedstrom who ran an 18:48.67, and junior Joane Pierre who logged a time of 18:07.86 to claim twelfth place overall.

The Lady Fins finished fourth that afternoon and recorded 139 points. This was the third time in four seasons the Dolphins ranked the same position. Pierre sees room for improvement as the season moves on.

“We did alright this race, we were testing the waters, we felt like our best efforts were not on display so we are looking forward to Friday to see what we really have,” said Pierre.

JU will be back in action on Friday, September 30 to participate in the invitational in Titusville, Fla.

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