TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2012
Grigg has a pair of 7s in winning hand
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Ron Grigg is sitting at the Atlantic Sun track and field poker table with a pair of 7s in his hands.

The first 7 doesn’t really feel right. The second 7 feels nearly perfect. No matter how they feel, he has the winning hand.

Grigg and the women’s track team pulled off something that went past anything he has ever dreamed of this past weekend when they won their seventh consecutive outdoor championship to go with seven consecutive indoor titles that was accomplished in February.

Even though the team won its seventh indoor championship, that 7 in Grigg’s hand didn’t have the same feel as the previous six; he seemed even a bit disappointed by the feel of a 164-143 win over Kennesaw State.

“It was we won and didn’t feel like it used to feel. I thought we didn’t have the same team chemistry as we had in the past and we’ve been spoiled that way,’’ Grigg said. “The reality is we had more than a third of our team graduate and when you have that much talent and continuity graduate and bring in a new group there’s growing pains we haven’t been accustomed to.’’

Part of his thinking had to do with the idea that in the past the team would show up with a purpose.

“The meet would go off and we’d have a good performance or two right away and it would stay that way,’’ Grigg said. “We’d just stay hot. Everybody expected it and they came very business-like to get the job done.’’

In Grigg’s mind, that wasn’t happening this year and that meant more adjustment.

“There are a couple of things happening simultaneously,’’ he said. “First, the other teams are getting better and it’s not as easy to have the margins of victories that we’ve had in the past. And really, those margins of victory aren't very realistic. We’ve done it so much we’ve created a level of expectation where it’s become normal. So, when we have a 25 point or 24 point victory and people believe that is close, it’s close relative to what we’ve done in the past.’’

During the outdoor season, Grigg wasn't seeing a significant difference from the indoor performance which is why his expectation for this meet outdoors championship were very different from the actual outcome.

“We worked hard to point out what I thought the issues were,’’ he said. “Ultimately, the girls have to work through it. I can’t make them act a certain way. When the gun goes off, it’s up to them to execute.’’

Finally, on Wednesday before the UNF meet, Grigg and the staff walked out of a team meeting at the Davis College of Business and let the athletes work any chemistry issues out among themselves.

“I said ‘a lot of you new kids haven’t been around to know what it’s like. The seniors have been’ and I left the room. I told the seniors to explain it to new kids because my explanations haven’t seemed to work. I called the five seniors to the front of the room and I said ‘I am going to let you sort it out’ and left.’’

Something worked because early in the outdoor championships the throwers had early success, just as in the past, and the remainder of the team, just as in the past, followed suit for the lopsided win. The Dolphins scored 178 points on the final day to finish with 242 points, 91 points better than second-place Kennesaw State.

“I think a key was them recognizing they are talented and that if they allowed themselves to be who they are we’ll handle our business,’’ Grigg said. “It was darn near perfect the way they competed. We worked really hard to coach them up but I wasn’t seeing it the way I thought I would during the regular season so I was pleasantly surprised that the talent I knew we had came to the surface at the right time.’’

In the aftermath, Grigg has been enjoying the emails from alumni and the well wishes of fans. He enjoyed one day off Monday but with 10 athletes trying to get ready for the NCAA championships time off is short lived.

“We have a ways to go,’’ he said. “Practice starts Tuesday.’’

- Jim Nasella