Cross country opens season Friday with JU Short Course Duals
Senior Joane Pierre
Senior Joane Pierre
The JU women’s and men’s cross country teams will kick off the 2012 campaign Friday with the JU Short Course Duals at the Dolphin Green on campus.

The women will begin the meet at 6 p.m., while the men close out the night at 6:25 p.m.

"We are always happy to put on the uniform and inject some intensity into the season,” JU head coach Ron Grigg said. “With classes starting Monday, and our first official practice on Wednesday, our “race” on Friday will be nothing more than a high quality training run. We won’t wear racing shoes, and we won’t push the pace early in the event for sure.

“It will however serve as a good assessment tool for us to design training and training paces for the remainder of the season. Our goal is to be ready and run our best races in late October and early November.”

On the women’s side, the Dolphins will return five of their top six runners this season that placed fifth in last season’s A-Sun Championships.

Senior Joane Pierre, 2012 A-Sun preseason Runner of the Year, is the leading runner back for JU.

Pierre has earned first team all-conference honors at all three A-Sun Championships, including guiding JU to its first league title in 2009. Pierre is one of JU best chances to secure the program’s first individual conference title after finishing third (2010) and fourth (2011) in the last two A-Sun meets.

Other returners in include senior Bienna Freeman, Alicia Gard-Kaminkow, Morgan Keel and Amaila Vogler. 2011 A-Sun all-conference runner Svenja Meyer is also returns for JU with sophomore Sarah Bailey and junior LaTonya Payne.

Junior Esteban Mendez and sophomore Taylor Fisher are the lone two returners for the men’s squad.

Mendez was JU’s top finisher in the final three 2011 meets, including breaking the 30-minute mark at the UCF Attack Challenge (29:47.91) and the A-Sun Championships (29:16.12). Fisher ran a season-best time of 21:25.89 at the Invitational.