Track & field’s 2013 indoor season begins Thursday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The journey to make it eight consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference indoor track & field championships begins Thursday for the Dolphins as they travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Gator Invitational.  

JU will open its season in Gainesville for the fourth straight year and the one-day meet will feature teams from throughout the region and will be a good barometer for the athletes and Dolphin head coach Ron Grigg .

“It is a quick turnaround, with the kids arriving on campus for classes Monday and our first competition on Thursday,” said Grigg.  “We view this as a specific evaluation as we start the process of improvement we expect to see throughout the season.”

The Dolphins enter 2013 loaded with talent and looked poised to defend their title.

Leading the group are seniors Joanne Pierre, Charlene Charles, and Akeela Bravo.    

Pierre is fresh off a record-setting cross country season in which she accomplished something no other Dolphin had ever done in program history as she ran a personal-best at the conference championship to claim the A-Sun individual title.  Pierre enters her final A-Sun indoor season having won the mile in each of the previous three years.

Charles has already established herself as one of the most versatile athletes in JU history.  She experienced a fantastic 2012 outdoor season in which she earned second-team All-American honors in the heptathlon.  Charles comes into 2013 as the strong favorite in the heptathlon as well to be a top competitor in the long jump and hurdles. 

Bravo enters her final indoor season looking to improve on her second-place finish in the shot put in last year’s conference championship.  She dominated the 2012 outdoor championships winning the shot put, hammer throw, and coming in second for the discus en route to being named the Most Valuable Performer as well as the Most Outstanding Field Performer. 

The talent however, isn’t limited to the upperclassmen as several gifted newcomers are looking to make an immediate impact for the Dolphins.

Freshman Kree Clark and Samantha Turner are expected to be serious competitors in the throws, possibly challenging for All-Conference honors.  In addition, fellow freshman Kaitlyn Taylor is expected to be one of the Dolphins challenging in the triple jump. 

“I am very excited to see the results of our throws group,” said Grigg.  “I will be interested to see if some of the excellent fall training we have seen from the sprints, jumps, hurdles, and distance groups will result in good early season performances.  If this team is going to be as special as I think it can be, we should see some signs of that right from the start.” 

The Florida Gator Invitational is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Fans can follow the action with live results posted on