HAMPTON ——Fraenk had some ground to make up at HU after a senior season at Hampton Roads Academy, where she didn't face the caliber of competition she did at Bethel.
"At Bethel, I accomplished a lot my first year. I had a lot of goals for my senior year," said Fraenk, originally from St. Martin. "At HRA, it was challenging to run fast times without as much competition. My freshman year was very challenging, the transition from HRA to college. But I think I adjusted well."
At the Wake Forest Open, Fraenk finished fourth in the 400 meters, in a time of 55.91 that has her confident she can reach her goal of 52 seconds — which would also qualify her for the St. Martin Olympic team.
At the same meet, Jones finished second in the 400 in 55.27 seconds — behind McCorory, who won the event in 52.58.
"I admire Francena a lot," Fraenk said. "(At Bethel), I would see her picture all over school. My coach and I would look at her races. He said we ran similar. She's a role model, (but) I don't want to be known as Francena. I want to be known as Emmy Fraenk."
Jones is more blunt.
"I came here because I wanted to be better than Francena, so I'm hoping I can bring my time down enough to break her records," she said.
Therein lies another challenge for Pierce: encouraging his athletes' goals while tempering them with reality.
"Sometimes kids say, 'I want to run as fast as Fran,' " Pierce said. "I've got to sit them down and have a reality conversation and say, 'Well, let's reach A, B and C goals first.' "
Pierce's current talent is obvious. The Lady Pirates won their second consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference indoor title and ninth out of the last 10 in February before finishing 13th in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championships in early March. Pierce now wants that talent to translate into a team that can win the ECAC, be annually ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation and finish in the top 10.
"Yvette really opened the doors, and then Francena just allowed us to really attract the big-time local athlete, not just the average local athlete," Pierce said. "They understand it's OK to stay here and go to Hampton and have the ability to get the same success that Fran did, or the success that you can get anywhere else."