Virginia track and field was back in action over the previous two weekends, with a host of standout performances at the Penn State National Open from Jan. 26 to 27 and the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite Meet Friday and Saturday.
Penn State National Open
The standout performance of this meet came from junior Margot Appleton on day one of competition. Appleton ran to second place in the women’s mile in a thoroughly impressive Virginia record-time of 4:30.87, a time that also places her fourth in this season’s NCAA rankings and earned her the ACC Women’s Track Performer of the Week. Senior Anna Workman wasn’t far behind in third place, running the second-fastest time in school history and also breaking the previous Virginia record with a time of 4:31.91. Graduate student Caroline Timm also made her way into the history books, finishing in a time of 4:36.24 in the same event to run the ninth-fastest time in school history.
The men mirrored the women’s success in the mile, as senior Yasin Sado took third place in the second-fastest men’s mile in Virginia history with a terrific run of 3:55.93, a time that also lands him among the top-10 milers in the NCAA this season. The Cavaliers continued to impress on the track, with senior Conor Murphy finishing second in the 800-meter event in a personal best and Virginia all-time second fastest performance time of 1:46.95. In the men’s 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Peter Djan blew away the competition to take first place with 7.80 seconds, placing him third on Virginia’s all-time performers list.
The field events went on in similarly impressive fashion, as junior Bree Lumpkin won the weight throw in a personal best of 18.32 meters, moving her to third place on Virginia’s all-time performers list. The men’s weight throw saw great performances as well, as junior John Fay won the event with a career-best thow of 21.61 meters, a throw that also earned him third place on the Virginia all-time performers list.
The second day of competition was a big one for the distance events, as the action kicked off with a Virginia sweep in the men and women’s Distance Medley Relays. The quartet of Appleton, Timm, Workman and senior Alahna Sabbakhan took first place in 10:55.45, and in doing so took down the Virginia DMR record set at the 2023 ACC Championships. The men followed suit, with a team of Sado, sophomore James Donahue, freshman Gage Gose and senior Shane Cohen running 9:36.69 to take the victory.
Sophomore Gary Martin kept the momentum going for the Cavaliers in the distance events, setting a school record of 7:47.49 in the 3000-meter event to take first place. Sophomore Will Anthony also ran an impressive race, clocking 7:53.77 to take second in the competition and third on the Virginia all-time performers list.
The women’s 3000-meter event was also successful for Virginia, as junior Jenny Schilling ran 9:16.17 for second place in the event and second on the all-time performers list. Moving down in distance, the Cavaliers continued to excel as freshman Alex Leath ran the fastest 1000 meters by a Virginia freshman with his time of 2:23.36, earning first place overall in the competition. Senior Keara Seasholtz bested her own school record in the 600-meter event in a time of 1:31.16.
Sophomore Sarah Akpan won the women’s 200-meter event, running 24.18 for 10th place on the Virginia all-time indoor performers list and sophomore Evans White IV ran a personal best of 21.89 seconds in the men’s 200-meter event to tie for 10th place on the Virginia all-time indoor performers list. In the men’s 400-meter event, junior Alex Sherman ran 47.58 seconds for eighth place on the all-time performers list.
The dominance of Appleton, Sado and the rest of the Cavaliers at the Penn State National Open was certainly enough to catch the eye of Vin Lananna, director of track and field and cross country.
“Since I arrived in Virginia, it has been my goal to build a complete championship track and field team,” Lananna said. “This weekend’s performance by our men and women really demonstrated that our staff has placed our student-athletes in a position to achieve that goal.”
Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite Meet
The Cavaliers carried the momentum from Pennsylvania into their performances when they returned to Blacksburg over the weekend. Many of the Cavaliers impressed, particularly in the jumps.
Junior Heldi Valikaj opened the day well for the Cavaliers, recording a personal-best of 7.46 meters in the men’s long jump to take second place in the event and seventh on the Virginia all-time performers list.
Sherman kept the impressive performances going with a third-place finish in the men’s 400-meter event in a time of 48.11 seconds. Freshman Elsa Spoor also shone for the Cavaliers in the pentathlon, taking third in the event with a score of 3,315 points and fifth all-time amongst Virginia freshmen.
The second day of competition saw similar success for the Cavaliers, as graduate student Maggie Hock kicked things off in the women’s 800-meter event, finishing second in the event and securing second place on the Virginia all-time performers list with 2:05.25. Senior Ellie Desmond ran to third place in the women’s mile in 4:47.08.
The Cavalier women also stood out in the field events, as sophomore Celia Rifaterra won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 1.80 meters, followed closely by junior Carly Tarentino’s jump of 1.72 meters to earn her second place. Sophomore Sam Romano excelled in the women’s pole vault, placing fifth with a clearance of 4.24 meters — setting an indoor personal-best and moving up to second on the Virginia all-time indoor performers list while she was at it.
Akpan wrapped up the second day of competition for the Cavaliers with a strong performance in the women’s 200-meter event, running 24.63 seconds to finish in third place.
Virginia’s continued dominance hardly surprises anyone anymore, but what the Cavaliers are doing on the track and in the field is beyond impressive. With several meets remaining on the schedule before the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Virginia has time to get even better in its quest for a national title.
The Cavaliers will send athletes to compete in three events this weekend — the Eagle Elite Invitational and the David Hemery Valentine Invitational, both of which are in Boston, Mass., and the Tiger Paw Invitational in Clemson, S.C. The meets will take place across Friday and Saturday.