HARRISONBURG, Va. - On Saturday, January 12, the James Madison University track & field team will hit the road for its opening meet of the 2013 season. JMU heads north to Annapolis, Md., to compete in the indoor Navy Invitational, which features 15 different events.
The Dukes will line up against host Navy and former conference-foe VCU. They will also compete against Mount St. Mary's, Colgate, American and University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.
JMU is coming off its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association championship, won at George Mason University in May 2012. Seven returning athletes earned all-conference honors at last year's meet, and three of those athletes took home individual championships.
"In 2012, we not only set the goal to win, but also focused on team cohesion and accountability. Everyone had a job to do, and they went into the meet ready to compete," Head coach Ta' Frias remembers. "We are taking the same approach into this season as we did last season, staying focused on our team goals, team cohesion and preparing ourselves to compete well."
Seniors Katie Harman (Clarksville, Md./River Hill), Marissa McDonald (Harrisburg, Va./Central Dauphin East) and Annie Reiner (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean lakes) return to the squad as individual champions from the 2012 conference meet. On the track side, Harman brought home the 5,000-meter run title and the 1,500-meter run title while Reiner also grabbed the 800-meter run victory. In the jumping portion of the meet, McDonald flew 6.03 meters in the long jump to secure the title.
Also returning for the 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons will be All-CAA seniors Katie Gorman (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth-Whitemarsh), Jennifer Monk (Bloomington, Ill./Central Catholic) and Stacey Nobles (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) as well as All-CAA juniors Ciarra Morris (Richmond, Va./Meadowbrook) and Ashley Williams (Shillington, Pa./Governor Mifflin). Gorman came in second place in the 10,000-meter run, and Nobles gave JMU a 1-2 finish in the 5,000-meter when she took second place behind Harman. Monk also tallied a second-place finish for JMU in the heptathlon.
Morris and Williams teamed up with McDonald for a third-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay. With a time of 45.91 seconds, they tied their own school-best record in the event, which they set in 2011.
Reiner set her own school record in 2012 when she ran a 2:49.86 in the 1,000-meter run at the Valentine Invitational in Boston, Mass. Her time broke the 13-year record set by Keisha Banks, a time of 2:50.90 in the event.
For JMU, the 2013 indoor track & field season runs from mid-January through late February. Those athletes that have qualified throughout the regular season will attend the Eastern College Athletic Conference indoor championships in Boston, Mass., during the first weekend of March.
"Without an indoor CAA championship, we focus on the ECAC championship and qualifying as many athletes for the post season as possible," Frias acknowledges. "As long as we improve throughout the indoor season, we will be ready for the outdoor season."
To qualify for the ECAC championships, an athlete must achieve a predetermined time in running events or a predetermined distance in jumping and throwing events. Last year, JMU sent 19 athletes to compete in 14 different events.