Track & field begins NCAA East Preliminary Round Thursday at UNF
Freshman Courtney Walker
Freshman Courtney Walker
The JU track & field team will make a short trip down the road Thursday to compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round at North Florida’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville.

The Dolphins have seven athletes competing in six events to try to earn a spot into the NCAA Championships. The top 12 finishers from each event will reach the national meet in Des Moines, Iowa, starting June 6.

This week’s meet will have more than 150 schools embark to Jacksonville at the site the Dolphins have won the last four A-Sun outdoor meets.

“We are ready to compete against the best our sport has to offer in an environment that is very familiar to us,” JU head coach Ron Grigg said. “We will see how far our best efforts and best performances will allow us to advance.”

Junior LaTonya Payne will start things for JU in the first round of the 400-meter hurdles at 5 p.m. Last time out, Payne ran a 59.91, the second-fastest all-time at JU, in the event at the Georgia Tech Invitational. She won the A-Sun title in 1:00.51 on April 21.

Junior Charlene Charles is competing for the Dolphins in the long jump at 5:30 p.m. Charles recorded a personal-best leap of 20' 0.25" in the long jump at the UCF Black & Gold Challenge in March. She has already punched a ticket to the NCAA Championships by earning a spot into the heptathlon.

At 6:55 p.m., freshman and local native Courtney Walker makes her first NCAA appearance in the 100-meter. Walker ran a Hodges Stadium record time of 11.57 to win the event at the A-Sun Championships.

The Dolphins wrap Thursday’s action with juniors Bienna Freeman and Joane Pierre running in the 800-meter at 8:35 p.m.

Freeman had an A-Sun best time of 2:07.16 at the Pepsi Florida Relays before bettering it at the Georgia Tech Invitational in 2:07.07 (program record) on May 12. Pierre ran a 2:07.67 at the UNF Invitational in March to earn her postseason spot for the third straight season. She also finished second to Freeman at the A-Sun meet in 2:08.51.

Freshman Shanique Walker run in the 100-meter hurdle first round Friday at 5:30 p.m. Walker posted a season-best time of 13.72 at the Georgia Teach Invitational for JU.

The Dolphins are scheduled for the 4x100-meter relay Saturday at 6:15 p.m. Both Walkers, freshman Shadaey Campbell and Payne posted a winning time of 45.28 in relay at the conference meet in April. Charles may join the Dolphins in running a leg at the meet.

Fans can follow the action through meet website located at the top of the page.