The Jacksonville University women’s track and field program will have a significant upgrade when they return for the fall of 2010 thanks to the generosity and vision of a private donation.
Construction on a new Olympic-size track for the four-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference champions will begin in June, with the estimated completion date set for August.
“With the amount of regional and national success our track and field program has seen the past few years, this upgrade has been a long time coming,” said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. “We are excited to get the project started as we continue the plan to improve our athletic facilities. We need visionaries to complete our master plan and our department is so thankful to have Mr. Autrey see and support our vision.”
The facility upgrade was made possible by a six-figure donation by Ron Autrey, chief executive officer of Miller Electric and a member of the JU Board of Trustees. The track will be named in his honor — the Ron Autrey Track at D.B. Milne Field.
“The growth of the JU track and field program over the last few years has been amazing to watch and I am glad that we are going to upgrade their facility,” said Autrey. “JU has a special place in the city of Jacksonville and we’re fortunate to have a university of this caliber in our community. It is important for the city to support this school as it makes a huge impact on our town. Our need right now is improved athletic facilities and I am happy to help Coach Grigg and our track program.”
Along with four straight indoor and outdoor conference titles, the Dolphins — under head coach Ron Grigg — have sent multiple members to the NCAA National Championships, headlined by Natasha Harvey’s fourth place finish in the long jump last season.
“Thanks to Ron Autrey’s vision and generosity, we’re extremely fortunate to make the new track facility a reality,” said JU President Dr. Kerry Romesburg. “The success these young women have had the past few years is nothing short of amazing and we’re committed to giving our student-athletes the resources they need to succeed — both in the classroom as well as on the field.”
The new track, along the outside of the football field, will receive a new surface by the highly-acclaimed Beynon manufacturer. The color of the surface is still being determined. New curbing and draining along the track surface will be added as well. Upgraded jumps and throw areas will also be included in the new design. The track project is being managed by Greg Hull of MF Athletics.
“First, I want to thank Ron Autrey for his generous donation as well as President Romesburg and Alan Verlander for having the vision to further our program with this upgrade,” said Grigg. “Our team is proud to represent our University in the best possible light. We have always found a way to make the most of our resources and facility upgrades will allow us to continue with our quest to improve our program. It will enhance the student-athlete experience and will allow us to continue to attract top student-athletes both nationally and internationally.”