Senior Ashani Roberts, Sun Belt Conference runner-up in the long jump, is among the team's top returnees.
Jan. 11, 2012
Florida Atlantic's track team kicks off their season this Saturday at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational in Gainesville, and a pair of NCAA qualifiers are back to lead the squad, according to coach Alex Smolka.
"We're going to be led by last year's Sun Belt Conference champion in the 400-meter hurdles, Danielle Aromashodu," he said, as well as "Ashani Roberts, who finished second last year in the triple jump, and also qualified for the NCAA regionals. She'll be competing definitely in the triple jump this weekend and likely in the long jump as well."
Smolka also spoke about his excitement surrounding this year's freshman class, saying how the meet "will be an eye-opener,"and that the group will finally get "their feet wet."
"We're looking forward to seeing at how our freshmen will compete at their first indoor meet, for many of them," he said. "I'm excited to see Michelle Jax, who did very, very well in cross country for us this fall, and a couple of other freshmen who came on towards the end of the season. Florida High School runners don't really race indoors, so it's going to be a whole new experience for them to be on the smaller track (half the size of the outdoor track), and climate-wise, it's much, much drier than racing outdoors."
The squad will be without another successful athlete, for at least this week.
"Our third conference champion from last outdoor season (in the 10,000-meter run), Rebecca Hallam, we're going to keep her out of this meet, but hopefully she'll be opening up the indoor season next weekend at the same location, at the Florida meet," said Smolka.
Smolka mentioned Jacksonville University and North Florida amongst the top competition for this opening meet, as well as a lot of "open, unattached athletes, looking to get a couple of indoor races under their belt" with it being an Olympic year.
This year's opening meet is organized by the Gainesville Sports Commission and will be held at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center at the University of Florida.