Indoor Track Captures Eighth Straight Title.

Courtesy of JU Athletics

Winning a collegiate championship is in no way an easy task. Thus making eight in a row an accomplishment of epic proportions.
That is exactly what the JU indoor women’s track and field squad did this past weekend in Johnson City, Tennessee. They captured their eighth-straight Atlantic Sun conference title with a total of 173 points.
Following day 1 of the event, the Dolphins staked claim to a 10-point lead. On day 2, the Dolphin domination was back on track winning three events to go along with 15 all-conference performances. On the entire weekend, JU won five events and had 24 all-conference honorees.
“We are thankful for a hard fought victory,” said Ron Grigg, the Dolphin’s head coach. “Anyone who follows the conference closely knows that the level of competition is improving at a tremendous rate. We have an irreplaceable group of seniors who really embraced their leadership role, and have a talented group of underclassmen who have taken up the challenge of continuing to elevate our program.”
In the 800 meters, Bienna Freeman repeated as champion and set a meet record with a 2:09.92. Right behind her was teammate Joane Pierre finishing with a 2:11.89
Shanique Walker bested her school record and broke the meet record in the 60-meter hurdles with a 8.34. Finishing just behind her with all-conference honors was Petra Munkacsy with a time of 8.75. Walker also finished second in the triple jump with a 40-11-00.
The Dolphins also captured the 4×400 meter relay title led by Freeman who was accompanied by Shadaey Campbell, LaTonya Payne and Courtney Walker. The group also set a new meet record with their winning time of 3:45.49.
“We are also thankful for all of the support we receive from the university, the athletic department, our alumni, parents and boosters,” said Grigg. “I want to specially thank Rhi, Danielle and Thom. Their work in strength and conditioning, athletic training and massage therapy are integral in our success.”
With the indoor season behind them, JU will look to capture the title on the outdoor circle as well.

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 www.judolphins.com. 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.

7 Track Team Titles

Saturday was a monumental day for Jacksonville University women’s track and field as they won their seventh consecutive Atlantic Sun Indoor Conference Title.

This win definitely cannot just be attributed to luck for the Lady Dolphins faced many challenges throughout the season including injury and several changes in team dynamics. Eight of the scorers from last year  graduated and one transferred leaving a lot of room for additions amongst the team. However, even with 6 newcomers, the lady dolphins were able to reign victorious over the rest of the field with a total of 164 points. Kennesaw State University followed with 143 points, their rivals University of North Florida took third with 136 pts., while East Tennessee State, University of South Carolina Upstate, Lipscomb University, and Belmont University followed with 107, 51, 40 and 20 points respectively.

Some of the best finishes in the sprinting events were a first place in the 60-meter with a 7.54 second time and three second place finishes in the 200-meter (24.41), long jump (18-9) and triple jump (39-8) by freshman Shanique Walker, a second place finish in the 60-meter  hurdles by senior Stacey Young, with a time of 8.54, now the current school record .

For the long distance events junior Joane Pierre ran 4 minute, 56.43 second in the mile run to win first place and junior Bienne Freeman ran 2:14.36 in the 800-meter run to also win first place.

Other meet accomplishments include Most Outstanding Freshman Performer which was awarded to freshman Courtney Walker , and the Coach of The Year, awarded to head coach Ron Grigg for his seventh consecutive year of helping the ladies attain this victory.

After a great finish to their indoor season, the teams’ new focus is producing for their outdoor season which will begin March 2 with the UNF Open at Hodges Stadium, according the JU athletics page.

Indoor Season Full of Promise for Track & Field

Photo courtesy of JU Athletics

Jacksonville University women’s track & field coach Ron Grigg returns a talented team in 2012, expecting to make a run towards another strong finish at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship in May and the chore of defending the team title for the seventh consecutive year.

The Lady Fins may feature their deepest roster in recent program history, excelling in the sprints, distances, and jumps.  The swift squad consists of six seniors, seven juniors, two sophomores, and seven freshmen.

Coach Grigg’s Dolphins are coming off a compelling finish to an indoor season that saw several school records fall and individuals advance to the Penn Relays as well as nationals.

In order to move up in the poll and fight for a top three finish in the conference race, the Lady Fins will look to a well-balanced roster throughout most events, particularly in the areas of the distances.

In distance running, junior Joane Pierre (Immokalee, FL) is coming off a brilliant season that saw the speedster capture titles in both 800-meter and one-mile at the conference meet and qualify for the NCAA championships.  Pierre holds the school record in the 800-meter (2:10.90), as well as the one-mile (4:54.16), and plans to secure her name on more top spots for years to come, anticipating more accolades along the way.

Senior Amalia Vogler (Berstett, France), junior Morgan Keel (Niceville, FL), and sophomore Svenja Meyer (Appen, Germany) are back for the Green & Gold in the distance this year.  The trio of runners also competes for the JU cross country team and can always be seen trekking around campus year round, no matter how cold it is.  Amalia Vogler was involved in shattering the previous school records in the 4 x 400-meter relay and Distance Medley along with teammate Bienna Freeman.

In the mile Vogler, Keel, and Meyer will be relied on heavily to secure points for the team standings.  During the 2011 indoor season Morgan Keel tallied personal-highs in the one-mile (5:16.99) and 3,000-meter (10:41.22) at the A-Sun Championships and she is only getting faster.  Svenja Meyer is a 2 x conference scorer and 2 x second team all-conference honoree who recorded her personal best in the mile (5:17.43) at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup last year.

Joining the triplets in the distance events will be senior Bailee Hedstrom (St. Augustine, FL), junior Alicia Gard-Kaminkow (Jacksonville, FL), and freshman Sarah Bailey (Verrnon, British Columbia).

The Lady Fins will be led by junior Charlene Charles (Alfortville, France), the reigning conference champion in the high jump and the pentathlon.  One of the top all-around athletes in the Atlantic Sun Conference, she currently holds two JU records and looks to amass more in the upcoming months.

Other top performers in the field events will be shot putter/weight thrower Sara Schunter (Flushing, MI) and weight thrower Sally Marie-Futch (Statesboro, GA) who both might likely be hitting the 50 foot mark here soon.  Fellow hurlers Cathy Agoris, Laura Phillips, and Akeela Bravo will be counted on greatly as the season progresses.

Senior Stacey Young (Lithonia, GA) will lead the sprinters this year and begin her fourth and final collegiate indoor track & field season. Young yearns for the top spot in the hurdles and triple jump events in the conference championships in 2012.  She has overcome many obstacles and re-occurring injuries throughout her dedicated career as a Fin and just by looking at her you can tell she has her eyes set on one thing only, being a champion!

“This is my senior track season and it’s bittersweet.  It will be my last chance to compete on a team full of wonderful ladies.  I plan to work hard and bring home another A-Sun Championship and make it to nationals.”  Said Stacey Young.

An athlete with diverse talents, Bienna Freeman (Newark, DE), will make an impact for the Dolphins both as a sprinter and distance runner.  Freeman holds the Jacksonville University record in the Distance Medley (11:42.29) and 4 x 400-meter relay (3:45.14), which she helped set last year in Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  Freeman has been impressive during her most recent practices and looks to be in top-notch shape.  Her offseason conditioning seemed to have improved her stamina which will be needed down the stretch.

Veteran’s Alana Walker (Germantown, TN) and La Tonya Payne (Mabbleton, GA) are in model form and plan on contending for first place in every race.  Freshman newcomers Shanique Walker, Courtney Walker, and Shadaey Campbell joined Payne winning the 4 x 400-meter relay, at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational in Gainesville last week.   These competitors will all look to add points to improve the Dolphins’ standings in sprint events.

Freshman Petra Munkacsy (Budapest, Hungary) is competing in the 55-meter hurdles and long jump as of now, but when the season ages her athleticism will be counted on heavily in other various events.  Also joining Munkacsy as a rookie is Alexis Taylor who hails from Sanford and will be challenging in the hurdles.

With this kind of talent and depth, along with the leadership and commitment that exist, the Jacksonville University’s track & field team seems to be poised to move up once again in the NCAA rankings.

Women’s Track Overview

Photo Courtesy of JU Athletics

The Jacksonville University Women’s Track takes off in hopes for another standout season after previously winning the conference last year. When championships are won, the expectation level always increases and so far the athletes are showing no sign of disappointment with having two athletes top their event in the season opener.

The JU Women’s Track team has the expectations of helping each team member reach their maximum in abilities and always achieve new personal bests.

Their coach Ron Grigg plans to keep that level of greatness at it’s highest at all times.

“From the outside looking in, some may see our consecutive championships and think it is a given that we will win every year,” Grigg said. “But the truth is that both the coaches and the student-athletes must consistently work hard to remain in a position to win.  While I feel that we have contributed significantly to raising the standard of excellence in all events in our conference, other coaches and programs have clearly responded by recruiting better student-athletes in an effort to challenge us.”

The athletes opened the season at Gainesville, which hosted the Jimmy Carnes Invitational. Charlene Charles, sophomore, broke her school record in the 55-meter hurdles, as well as the 800-meter. She also broke the record in shot put and high jump. All of this led to her winning the pentathlon with a school record of 3,906 points.

In addition to Charles’ success, Stacey Young, junior, placed second in the pentathlon with a total of 3,621 points after coming in second in the 55-meter hurdles and long jump and third in the high jump competition.

Charles’ efforts named her the Athletic Sun Conference Field Athlete the of Week and Coach Grigg felt it was well deserving.

“Charlene had a very nice season opening performance,” Grigg said. “Recognition for achievement is always welcomed, and while there can only be one athlete of the week, we had other excellent performances from Ronnisha Hall in the throws, and Joane Pierre in the middle distances.”

The ladies are continuing to leave no doubt and recently in their Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup in State College, Pa. they broke the school record for the Distance Medley Relay with a time of 11:42.29. placing them in second for the event. The lady Dolphins take they’re act to East Tennessee State University for the first conference matchup of the season Saturday, Feb. 18.

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