In his 12th year as Director of Virginia Tech Track & Field and Cross Country, Dave Cianelli has built the Hokie program into one of the elite programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the nation. Since Cianelli’s arrival in the fall of 2001, Virginia Tech athletes have produced eight ACC team championships, 118 individual conference titles, 13 NCAA individual titles and 125 NCAA All-America performances. In addition, Hokie teams have finished in the national top-10 eight times and the national top-20 19 times since 2005.
NCAA, REGIONAL AND ACC SUCCESS
The 2012 Hokies continued to demonstrate why they are one of the nation’s elite track and field programs. The men’s team finished fifth place at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships equaling their program-best finish from 2011. The men also finished a program best tied for eighth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In addition, the men won their first ever ACC Outdoor Team Championship in 2012 to go along with ACC Indoor Championship they won in 2011. Marcel Lomnicky (35 lb. weight throw at indoors) and Alexander Ziegler (hammer throw at outdoors) both won NCAA National Championships in 2012. Other top finishes at the NCAA Championships included Hasheem Halim in the triple jump (3rd indoors, 4th outdoors), Darrell Wesh (4th in the 100 meters at outdoors), Matthias Treff (3rd in the javelin at outdoors), Michael Hammond (4th in the 1500 meters at outdoors) and Ziegler (3rd in the 35 lb. weight throw at indoors). The women finished a sold fourth at the ACC Outdoor Championship and the team produced five NCAA All-Americans with freshman Martina Schultze leading the way with All-American honors both indoor and outdoor in the pole vault.
USA AND INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
2012 brought another outstanding year for the Hokies at the U.S. Olympic Trials and international competitions. Virginia Tech had three individuals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Darrell Wesh in the 100 meters, Keith Ricks in the 200 meters and Ronnie Black in the high jump. In addition, Wesh and Ricks were both selected to represent the USA at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships in Mexico. Wesh brought home the gold medal as a member of the 4x100 meter relay and Ricks won the bronze medal in the 200 meters. In the summer of 2011, the Hokies were well represented at the United States Senior and Junior Outdoor Track & Field National Championships. Michael Hammond qualified for the final of the senior 1,500-meter run and finished 13th, while teammates Taylor Crosson and Courtney Dobbs finished second and third, respectively in the 5,000-meters at the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. In 2010, Jared Berman placed second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the USA Junior Championships and advanced to the IAAF World Junior Championships and where he made the final, placing ninth.
In 2008, Queen Harrison made history when she earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, by finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials to qualify in the event. Harrison was the first Tech track and field athlete to represent any country in the Olympics and only the second Hokie to become an American Olympian in any sport, following Bimbo Coles who represented the United States in basketball in 1988.
COACH OF THE YEAR HONORS
Cianelli’s illustrious career is proven by the awards he has collected throughout his career. For the 2012 season, he was awarded both the Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Southeast Region Coach of the Year award by the USTFCCCA. Cianelli was also named the Men’s ACC Outdoor Coach of the Year for leading the Hokies to their first-ever ACC Outdoor title. He has been selected as the ACC Coach of the Year seven times and the USTFCCCA Region Coach of the year 10 times.
Cianelli has assembled one of the most accomplished coaching staffs in America. Associate head men’s and women’s track & field coach Greg Jack has produced nine NCAA individual national championships with his throwers. Jack has multiple Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors to his credit and was named National Throws Coach of the Year in 2006. Former Hokie and NAIA Region XII Coach of the Year Ben Thomas is the cross country coach and distance coach and has produced 14 All-Americans in cross country and track during his tenure at Tech. Thomas is assisted by former Hokie Natalie Hall. Long-time assistant Bob Phillips, a former All-American for the Hokies, coaches the pole vaulters. Phillips earned recognition in 2011 as the USTFCCCA’s Men’s Indoor Regional Assistant Coach of the Year. Tech introduced Charles Foster as the sprints, hurdles and jumps coach in the fall of 2009. Foster quickly made a reputation for himself, earning USTFCCCA Regional Coach of the Year honors for the women’s sprints and hurdles. Foster is a former world record holder in the 110-meter hurdles and a U.S. Olympian in 1976. Under Foster’s coaching, Queen Harrison won three NCAA national titles in the hurdles in 2010 and was selected by Track and Field News as the collegiate athlete of the year and received the 2010 Bowerman Award as the most outstanding female collegiate track and field athlete. Foster was honored in 2008 by the USTFCCCA as Men’s National Coach of the Year for sprints and hurdles.
The Virginia Tech track & field and cross country programs continue to achieve at a high level in the classroom. Frances Dowd won the NCAA Elite 89 Award in 20012 for the indoor season, honoring the student-athlete with the highest GPA at the NCAA Championships. Kelly Phillips became a two-time Capital One Academic All-American in 2011 with her selection to the first team. She also won the NCAA Elite 88 Award, which recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. For the 2011 track season, 16 total individuals were named to the All-ACC Academic team. In addition, the women’s cross country team earned USTFCCCA All-Academic accolades for the seventh season in a row. In 2010, both Matej Muza and Kristi Castlin were honored as the ACC scholar-athletes of the year for track and field.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE
Prior to Tech, Cianelli gained plenty of experience in 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. With the Mustangs, Cianelli worked with 19 Olympic and World Championship competitors, 27 NCAA individual champions, 123 All-Americans and 95 individual conference champions. Cameron Taylor of New Zealand was a quarterfinalist in the 200m at the 1992 Olympics, and Tytti Reho won the 2000 NCAA championship in the 800m.
In cross country, both the men’s and women’s teams captured the 1995 Southwest Conference titles and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships. During 13 years at SMU, the track & field teams finished in the top-10 nationally 16 separate times.
Cianelli served as the assistant women’s track & field and cross country coach at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo from 1985-88, where he helped the cross country team to the NCAA Division II National Championship three consecutive seasons; and the outdoor track & field teams finished as the runner-up at the NCAA Division II Championships three years in a row. Individual honors during his four years included 13 All-Americans and one NCAA champion.
Cianelli started his coaching career at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, Calif., as the head track & field coach from 1982-84. In three seasons, he coached seven junior national qualifiers in the heptathlon and decathlon.