WEDNESDAY, JUNE 06, 2012
Charles competes at NCAA Championships starting Thursday
Junior Charlene Charles
Junior Charlene Charles
Junior Charlene Charles closes the 2011-12 JU athletic year by representing the Dolphins track & field team in the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships Thursday in Des Monies, Iowa.

Despite setbacks in her JU career, the French native is happy to be back for her second trip to the NCAA Championships and is looking forward to making the Dolphin nation proud.

“I am really excited to be back,” Charles said. “In my freshman year, I qualified for the NCAAs but I couldn’t compete due to injury. I was also injured my sophomore year as well. I am happy and ready to represent JU this year, be healthy (laughs) and hopefully do great at the NCAA meet.”

It’s been a long trip back to the NCAA Championships for Charles who opened her JU career with a tremendous freshman season in 2010. She earned the MVP as well as the Outstanding Track and Outstanding Field Performer honors at the A-Sun Indoor and Outdoor meets.

Charles, who has been doing the heptathlon for nine seasons, punched her first ticket to the NCAA meet after posting 5,325 points in the heptathlon at the FSU Replays. She would later suffer an injury running the final leg of JU’s 4x100-meter relay which caused her to miss the NCAA heptathlon.

In 2011, Charles competed in the indoors, but battled through injuries as well. The injuries would eventually slow her outdoor campaign to a grinding halt.

“When you have hamstring injury, it can reoccur at any time,” Charles said. “Because I am a sprinter, I run hurdles a lot so that injury can happen. When you compete injured, you don’t compete to win, but only to finish the race. It has been frustrating because I want to compete like all of the athletes who focusing on winning the event. The only thing I think when injured was how to finish the race and score some points for the team.”

Charles has used the support system of the coaches, trainers and friends to power through the setbacks to get back onto the track into her normal self.

“It has been hard going through it,” Charles said. “But it has been really good to talk to people about it and gave me the hope that I am going to make it. I had to keep telling myself that it may have been bad last year, but this year I am going make it. I always had this year which gave me the power and hope that I could do it.”

The talks have helped Charles as she seems back to her normal self during the 2012 season. She played significant roles in helping the Dolphins secure their seventh straight A-Sun indoor and outdoor title sweep.

Charles also broke her freshman mark in the heptathlon winning the Lynchburg College event on May 8 with a personal-best 5,422 points. The point total ranked 22nd nationally which secured her spot into the NCAA meet.

During the heptathlon, Charles won the 100-meter hurdles (14.10), high jump (5’7.75”), long jump (18’11.25”) and 800-meter (2:15.41). She posted a personal-best throw of 33’10” (6th) in the shot put and finished fourth in the 200-meter in 24.79. Charles also had a throw of 94’10” in the javelin.

“I hope I break my personal best in the hurdles at the NCAAs, Charles said in what goals she had for the meet. “I haven't broken it since by freshman year. Because of my hamstring we have limited my sprint and hurdle work in practice. But my recent sessions have shown me I am ready to run fast.”

“I also want to break it in the long jump too. I did the long jump in regionals and didn’t do that great so I am hoping to break my record. If I do break that record, I know I will do fine in the heptathlon.”

After the setbacks, Charles is looking forward to possibly snagging an All-America honor to make this whole process worthwhile.

“Earning All-America honors would be my dream,” Charles said. “Since qualifying for the NCAA’s my freshman year, we have had this progress sheet that my coaches and I have worked on achieving. Because of my injuries, the sheet has been off. This year, I want to be an All-American so my coaches, family and friends can be proud of me.”

The heptathlon with start Thursday at 2 p.m. EST with the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200-meter. The event will wrap Wednesday with the long jump, javelin and 800-meter portions starting at 4 p.m. EST. The top eight finishers receive All-America honors.

Fans can follow the action through the Championship Central at godrakebulldogs.com.