Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Men's track team finishes second, women's sixth at ACCs

Here's my newest article for The Collegiate Times

The Virginia Tech men’s track and field team finished second with 130 points at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships this past weekend at Clemson University.
The women’s team finished sixth.

“I was very proud how everyone competed especially on the final day, because that’s when we scored the majority of our points,” said head coach Dave Cianelli.

The men’s team also finished second during February’s indoor championship.
Cianelli said it’s the highest the men’s team has placed in the Outdoor Championship.

The men’s team finished 8.5 points behind Florida State for the title.

“There were four teams that were within 20 points of each other,” Cianelli said.

Sophomore Marcel Lomnicky won the hammer throw title for the second year in a row. He set an ACC-meet record with his throw of 235-07 meters. Lomnicky is the first Hokie to win back-to-back ACC titles since Spyridon Jullien in 2003-05.

“I’m pretty happy about winning the title again after last year,” Lomnicky said. “But I was pretty happy about throwing the ACC meet record too, but I really wanted to throw farther. I felt really good, I’m kind of disappointed about my performance but I did pretty well.”

Lomnicky was not the only successful Hokie in the hammer throw. Senior Matej Muza finished second while freshmen Alexander Ziegler and Denis Mahmic finished fourth and seventh, respectively.

The team of Lomnicky, Muza, Zieglar and Mahmic earned 25 points toward the overall men’s point value.

Nineteen more points were added to the total team total thanks to another great performance by the pole-vaulters.

Senior Yavgeniy Olhovsky won his second straight and third overall ACC title after clearing 18-00.50. Juniors Hunter Hall and Jared Jodon finished third and sixth respectively.

“We have built depth in those areas (throwers and pole vaulters) with a lot of quality athletes,” Cianelli said.

On the track, sophomore Will Mulherin won the 5,000-meter race, earning his second consecutive ACC title. Mulherin was disqualified in the 3,000 meter at the indoor ACC championship for allegedly pushing an opposing runner during the event. The win helped make up for the mishap in February.

“I think he along with the coaching staff and his teammates were really happy to see him pull off that win considering what happened in indoors in the 3,000,” Cianelli said. “I think he felt a sense of redemption.”

Sophomore Keith Ricks contributed 24 points overall to the total team value as well. This included his performance in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, which he finished second and seventh in, respectively. Ricks also took second and third place individually in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash respectively.

“I think that’s the first time we had someone in the top three in the conference in each of those events,” Cianelli said.

Sophomore Michael Hammond won the men’s mile and finished second in the 1,500 meter.

On the women’s side, senior Queen Harrison continued her magical season by winning the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.44 seconds — a new ACC record, but the time did not stand because of the wind acting as an aid to the competitors.

“I’ve been doing a lot of training since freshman year so I think I kind of put an exclamation point on the end of my ACC career,” Harrison said.

“Even with the wind she had the fastest time I had ever seen before,” Cianelli said.

Senior Kristi Castlin joined Harrison on the podium, earning second in the 100-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 12.59 seconds.

Harrison continued her dominance at the meet by winning the 400-meter hurdles while setting yet another ACC record with a time of 54.66. Senior Asia Washington finished fourth with a time of 57.71.

Harrison’s performance in the two events places her as one of the top competitors in the world now, according to Cianelli.

“She had the best double (the 100 and 400 meter hurdles) by a collegiate (runner) ever in history,” Cianelli said. “As longs as she’s able to maintain her health she’s going to be one of the best in the world. I really do believe that.
“If she’s able to continue to run those types of times through the season, she’s going to be ranked in the top 10 in the world,” Cianell said. “With the types of things that she’s doing now I would consider her in the top 10 now. It’s very rare to see her do both events at such a high level. She’s been the cornerstone of our program.”

Cianelli said the work Harrison has done with sprints, hurdles and jumps coach Charles Foster has really benefited her. Foster has served as a mentor that she has not had in her previous seasons at Tech.

“12.44 is the fastest I’ve ever seen ever in the 100 meter hurdles,” Foster said. “In watching (Harrison) grow and mature, she’s always had a willingness to accept a challenge. She doesn’t back off very well. That’s probably one of her greatest talents in that she isn’t scared. I have to know when to back off and rest her, we work hard so we can rest hard.”

Harrison is just trying to stay focused for the remainder of the season by using the same strategy she used in the indoor season.

“Just like in indoor I just made sure this whole outdoor season that every race I run I make sure I run it like it’s a final and don’t take anything for granted,” Harrison said.

Foster said the overall women’s performance is what he expected when he took over the sprint program this past fall and is looking forward to the future.

“We expect to keep rocking and rolling like we’re doing,” he said.

The women’s 4x100 meter relay and 4x400 meter relay teams finished fourth and second, respectively.

The women’s team is in a bit of a rebuilding stage and should be in better shape next year with the strength of the recruiting class coming in the fall.

“We have a really young team but I feel like a lot of girls really stepped up to the plate,” Harrison said.

“We have one of the best in terms of numbers and also talent in that we’ve ever had coming in,” Cianelli said. “Even losing Queen and Kristi, who are such high level athletes, we’ll be able to improve as a team.
“I’m pretty happy with what’s coming in for the future on both sides.”

The team will send several competitors to nationals in June where Cianelli believes the team can make an impact on the national level.

“I really think we can finish with a top 10 finish from both sides,” he said. “This has never happened on the men’s side but if they perform at the level they’re at now that should happen. This will really be a milestone for our program. We want to have a strong enough program nationally on a consistent basis so we can be in that top 10 year in and year out.”

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