Track & field opens season at Jimmy Carnes Invitational Saturday
The JU track & field team will start indoor competition Saturday with the Jimmy Carnes Invitational in Gainesville, Fla.

This is the third straight season that the Dolphins will open as a team at this meet. It’s also the first of consecutive meets in Gainesville as JU starts its road toward a seventh straight A-Sun Indoor Championship.

“The first meet of a season is always full of anticipation,” JU head coach Ron Grigg said. “With such a large group of newcomers, that sense of anticipation is magnified. However, we have had irregular training situations for the last seven weeks that included Thanksgiving, final exams and winter break. So we will keep things in proper perspective.

“This meet will serve as an evaluation tool for the coaches and learning experience for the new student-athletes. We will assess the level of performance, and chart our course for the indoor and outdoor season. If things go well, we may establish some solid marks for the conference performance list. Whatever results we do see, we know this is just the beginning.”

The Dolphins return 14 athletes from the 2011 squad that earned the A-Sun indoor title for the sixth straight season.

Leading the crop of indoor returners is juniors Charlene Charles and Joane Pierre. Charles was named “Most Valuable Performer” and “Most Outstanding Field Performer” at the A-Sun Indoor Championships after winning the pentathlon (3,670 points) and high jump (5’5”). She also broke the school pentathlon record with 3,906 points at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational last season.

Pierre earned “Most Outstanding Track Performer” at the A-Sun Indoor Championships by winning the mile (5:02.17) and 800-meter (2:15.24), while finishing second in the Distance Medley Relay (11:52.94). Like Charles, Pierre was solid at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational last season after breaking the program record in the mile (4:54.16) and winning the 800-meter (2:15.51).

JU has eight newcomers this season, but it’s a talented group that represents each event area.

Freshman Shanique Walker is one of the new Dolphins to watch this season after being named to the Track & Field News All-America team in the December 2011 issue.

Walker, who attended Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose, Calif., earned the honor for the triple jump with the help of her victory in the US Junior Track & Championships on June 25. She recorded a leap of 40’11.75” to win that event and better her second place finish in 2010.

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