Indoor Season Full of Promise for Track & Field

Adam Rutkowsky

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.