Track athletes lace up for UNF Osprey Challenge


The last chance for both the UNF men’s and women’s track and field teams to face their big-time rivals at home before the Atlantic Sun Championship arrives Saturday, April 17.

 The annual UNF Osprey Challenge against Kennesaw State and Jacksonville University, among others, takes place at Hodges Stadium. This year’s event is gearing up to be an exhibition full of talent for the men’s and women’s track and field teams, said Mark VanAlstyne, the head men’s and women’s coach for the track and field team.
“It’s a different feeling competing at home, especially for us, as this is only the second season we‘ve had the opportunity to do it,” VanAlstyne said. It’s nice to have friends and family cheering for you. … We definitely want to protect our house.”
The track facility within the stadium is well suited for such an event, boasting 9,400 seats for spectators and a nine-lane track system that possesses the capability of running events in either direction. With this event being the last home meet for the Ospreys before the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships, it’s sure to attract a crowd of students and spectators from around the Southeast, VanAlstyne added.

Both the men and women have outstanding individuals who hold top seeded positions and school records. But outstanding performances from the athletes need to be consistent as a team, and having a home field advantage won’t hurt, VanAlstyne said.

One of the women’s teams top performing athletes, senior Charisma Anderson, is looking forward to this meet both as herself and a team member. She is currently seeded in the No. 1 position in the women’s 100 meter for the A-Sun Conference.

Her confidence in her events will hopefully lead her to maintain her status as leading runner, and she hopes to even break a record or two along the way, she said. 

“I feel confident,” Anderson said. “You know you have to show your school and the A.D. [UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon] what you got.”

Though the team is dealing with the heavy training regiment they endured in the past few months, tapering — descending in practice effort and time — for their home meet will help them before their day of performance.

With all of the invited teams gearing up for a Saturday full of running, jumping and throwing, the UNF Osprey Challenge presents an event on one of the U.S.’s premier outdoor tracks.