MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011
TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW: JU throws & distance groups
The JU track & field team will battle for its sixth straight outdoor title at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships starting Friday at UNF’s Hodges stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. JUDolphins.com is previewing the Dolphins squad each day to get you ready for the conference meet. Today’s feature will focus on the first groups to compete for JU on Friday – the throwers & distance group.
The throwers have been one of the strongest groups for the Dolphins in the outdoor campaign in 2011.
Senior Ronnisha Hall has shouldered the group after breaking school records in the hammer and discus on a couple of occasions to earn A-Sun Field “Athlete of the Week” honors in three straight weeks (3/16, 3/23 & 3/30).
Hall opened the season with a school record toss of 148’7” in the discus at the UNF Spring Break Open. She broke the hammer throw record two consecutive meets, settling on a personal-best throw of 177’9” (3rd) at the UCF Invitational on March 26th. Hall finished the meet improving on her A-Sun lead in the shot put with a toss of 47’8.5”.
Sophomore Akeela Bravo, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, has performed strong in her first year with the Dolphins. Bravo has been close to Hall in every throwing event, including posting a toss of 148’1” in the discus at the Pepsi Florida Relays on April 2. Bravo tossed a season-best throw of 165’6” in the hammer to finish second UCF Black & Gold Challenge, while also recording a toss of 42’8.75” in the shot put.
Other throwers competing for the Dolphins will be junior Cathy Agoris and sophomore Sara Schunter. Agoris had a personal-best hammer throw of 128’11” for ninth at the UNF Spring Break Open, while Schunter posted 38’8.25” in the shot put. Schunter also recorded a hammer throw of 129’5” at the UCF Invitational.
“The throwers have been consistently excellent all year,” said JU head coach Ron Grigg.“Ronnisha has threatened school records every time she has an implement in her hand. Akeela has been solid and has really pushed Ronnisha in competition. Sara and Cathy are ready to crack the top eight and score.
“The throwers had a great indoor conference championship scoring 42 points, the most of any throws group in the history of the A-Sun,” said JU assistant coach Bambi Carson, who works primarily with the throws group. “They set the bar high and we are adding two more events.They have had great performances this season. I am excited to see what they will bring this weekend.
“Ronnisha is a fierce competitor and, this being her last championship, we are expecting big marks in all four events. Akeela has been consistent all year and consistency always brings the big throws at conference championships. Sara and Cathy have been working hard these past few weeks because they know the throws events are decided by inches and both have a good chance to score. Overall, it’s been a great year for the throws group and they are ready for another championship.”
Over the last three seasons, the Dolphins have had a good core distance group which has set them up nicely to win both the indoor and outdoor conference meets.
Junior Alicia Gard-Kaminikow will get the group started on Friday night with the 10,000-meter. This season, she ran the event at the UNF Spring Break Open and shaved two minutes off her personal best in the 10,000-meter with a time of 40:12.39 (7th).
“Alicia has made such great progress in her first year in our program,” said Grigg. “She has the perfect demeanor and work ethic for a distance runner. She is a great example of how consistent work over time can improve results.”
The duo of freshman Svenja Meyer and junior Susanne Klungtveit is slated to race in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday for the Dolphins. Meyer ran a time of 11:23.87 for second place in the event at the UNF Spring Break Open before bettering the effort with an 11:12.61 (11th) at the Pepsi Florida Relays. Klungtveit won the A-Sun title in 2009 with a time of 11:36, but would leave early with an injury in 2010.
“Svenja has been much improved during the outdoor season,” said Grigg. “Her 1500-meter speed shows she is ready for a big race. Susanne had an unfortunate injury that sidelined her for much of the indoor season, but she has been putting in the mileage for a month while her water barrier and hurdle work looks good. We’ll see if she can put it all together for the race on Saturday.”
Sophomore Joane Pierre will join sophomore Morgan Keel in the 1,500-meter. Pierre and Keel along with junior Amalia Vogler and sophomore Bienna Freeman will run in the 800-meter. The group will round out the A-Sun meet with the 5,000-meter on Saturday night.
Pierre won the 800-meter event at last year’s championship with a time of 2:12.89 and currently owns the 1,500-meter record (4:29.10). Keel ran a personal-best time of 4:50.51 (sixth) in the 1,500-meter at the UCF Black & Gold Challenge, while Freeman earned A-Sun Track “Athlete of the Week” honors on March 30 after winning 800-meter with an A-Sun best time of 2:09.61 at the UCF Invitational.
Vogler ran a season-best time of 2:13.56 in the 800-meter at the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Fla.
“Joane has the top time in the conference and her talent level is no secret to anyone,” said Grigg. “Morgan has made such a nice transition from freshman to sophomore year. She too is ready to get in scoring range on Saturday.
“We have a lot of confidence in our 800-meter runners. They all possess excellent endurance and speed, so they will be successful with any race strategy. The 5,000-meter comes at the end of the meet and most athletes from all teams will have already run one or two races. We will have our maximum of five athletes entered and ready to race if the points are needed.”
Log back onto to JUDolphins.com tomorrow as we preview the sprints and hurdles groups.