THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009
Track & field’s dominance is becoming second nature
Senior Natasha Harvey
Senior Natasha Harvey
Four years ago, the JU track & field program was considered a middle of the pack program after finishing the 2005 Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships with its second consecutive fourth place finish.

On May 16, the Dolphins’ dynasty was on full display as JU won its fourth consecutive A-Sun Outdoor title and its eighth straight conference title, combining with their four straight Indoor titles.

Not only has JU won the title every year since 2006, but the program continues to get better each time as the Dolphins won this year’s outdoor meet with a conference record 212 points.

JU had only finished as high as second in the outdoor meet on two occasions (2000, 2001) since joining the conference in 1999. The Dolphins’ four straight outdoor titles is the second longest streak in conference history behind former member and in-state rival UCF, who won six consecutive championships from 2000-2005.

The indoor championships were first introduced to the A-Sun in 2006 and JU has dominated the event every year to further add to its legacy.

“The coaching staff has a simple goal,” said JU head coach Ron Grigg. “We look to get better each year. To do so requires the recruitment and development of quality student-athletes. We enjoy showing the best high school athletes how special JU is.”

During JU’s eight titles, the Dolphins have averaged more than 150 points a meet, produced more than 15 all-conference performances, won more than six events per championship and averaged three to five new meet records.

A large portion of the Dolphins’ success had been because of the help of the lone senior on the team, Natasha Harvey.

The West Haven, Conn. native has been a part of every championship squad, won nine different “Most Outstanding Performer” honors, earned 22 individual conference championships and recorded 35 all-conference performances. She also had earned four All-America honors in the long jump (3-indoor, 1-outdoor), which tied for the most honors in school history.

At the 2009 A-Sun Outdoor Championships, Harvey set an individual meet record with five first place finishes en route to earning “Most Valuable Performer” honors for the second time this year. She was awarded “Most Outstanding Field Performer” accolades as well and became the first athlete in A-Sun history to win two different events (long jump and 100-meter hurdles) all four seasons.

Harvey is one of seven Dolphins qualified for the NCAA Regionals, which is set for May 29 in Greensboro, N.C. on the campus on North Carolina A&T.

Harvey is pacing the Dolphins after securing spots in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump. She is also qualified for the 4x100-meter relay along with sophomores Danielle Davenport, Louise Kiernan and Unique Singleton. The group has won all five attempts this season and took the event title at the A-Sun meet with a school and meet record time of 44.82, which ranks in the top 20 nationally.

Kiernan qualified for the 100-meter race with a time of 11.53 at the conference meet, while Singleton earned a spot in the regional by winning the conference 400-meter championship.

Sophomore J’Zotta Rolle was the first Dolphin this season to qualify for the NCAA Regionals this season by securing a spot in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:00.77 at the UNF Spring Break Open (3/7). She also placed first in the event at the A-Sun Championships with a time of 1:01.22.

Freshman Susanne Kluntveit won the 3,000-meter steeple chase while JU’s veteran thrower, junior Hillary Crook, rounds out the Dolphins NCAA qualifiers after winning the shot put (44’6.25”) at the conference meet on May 15.

With so many qualifiers, the Dolphins have a great chance to send three or more athletes to compete on the grand stage for an individual national title at the NCAA Championships starting on June 10.

“Natasha is ranked high in the long jump and hurdles and has a good chance to advance to the NCAA Championships,” said Grigg. “I am very excited about the development of our 4 x 100 meter relay team. They are ranked in the top five in our region and with a strong performance, they too can make it to the NCAA Championship meet.”

The Dolphins will lose only one athlete from this year’s squad so they will look for much of the same success when they head into the 2010 season.

After four seasons, the Dolphins have moved from their middle of the pack finishes to the top of the perch in the A-Sun. With the Dolphins working harder each year, JU is poised to see what kind of new success they can achieve.