Now in his 15th 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 track and field athletes have produced 15 NCAA individual national titles, 177 NCAA All-America honors and 149 individual conference champions. Since 2005, Hokie teams have finished in the national top-five three times, the national top-10 eight times and the national top-20 twenty-one times. In 2015, Cianelli added two more Coach of the Year honors. One from the ACC for the 2015 men’s indoor season and one from the USTFCCCA for being selected Southeast Region Men’s Coach of the Year for the indoor season.
NCAA, REGIONAL AND ACC SUCCESS
The Hokies had another successful season beginning with the 2015 ACC Indoor Track & Field Men’s Team Championship title. Irena Sediva continued the trend, as the Czech Republic native garnered the NCAA national champion title in the javelin to lead the women’s team to a 15th place finish at the NCAA National Outdoor Championships. Sediva’s success continued into the summer with a bronze medal finish at the World University Games in South Korea with a throw of 196-6 (59.89 meters). By the conclusion of the season, Sediva reset the ACC all-time record on four separate occasions and ranks among the all-time top-10 in NCAA history. On the men’s side, Neil Gourley competed throughout the summer, culminating with a bronze medal at the European U23 Championships in the 1,500-meter distance. Additionally, Tech track & field collected 16 All-American honors and 10 individual ACC championships to cap off the season.
Patrick Joseph led the way internationally during the 2014 campaign as he claimed the USA Junior Championship in the 1500-meter race en route to earning a spot on Team USA at the World Junior Championships held in Eugene, Oregon.
2013 was another banner year for the Hokies at the USA Championships and World Championships. Queen Harrison was runner up at the USA Championships in the 100 meter hurdles with a personal best time of 12.43 and went on to place fifth in that event at the World Championships in Moscow, Russia. For the season, Harrison was ranked fourth in the world in the 100-meter hurdles by Track & Field News. Ronnie Black, 2013 ACC champion in the high jump, place third in that event at the USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Marcel Lomnicky, a two-time NCAA National Champion for the Hokies, finished eighth at the World Championships in the hammer throw with a throw of 254’ 6”. Marcel was ranked sixth in the world by Track & Field News for the 2013 season. Martina Schultze, a six-time All American for Virginia Tech, won the silver medal in the pole vault at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Martina went on to set a personal best and Virginia Tech record of 14’ 9”.
In 2012 Virginia Tech had five individuals compete at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Keith Ricks and Darrell Wesh 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 4 x 100 meter relay team and Ricks won the bronze Medal in the 200 meters. In the summer of 2011, the Hokies were well represented at the USA Senior and Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Michael Hammond was a finalist in the 1500 meters at the USA Senior Championships, while teammates Taylor Crosson and Courtney Dobbs finished second and third in the 5,000 meters at the USA Junior 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 in Canada where he made the final and placed ninth.
In 2008, Harrison made history when she earned a spot on the US Olympic team by finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. At age 19, Harrison was the second youngest female track and field athlete in history to make the US Olympic Team. She was the first Tech track and field athlete to represent any country at the Olympic Games 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 coaching awards he has collected over the years. In 2015, he was named the indoor ACC Men’s Coach of the Year along with the NCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year awarded by the USTFCCCA. For the 2013 season, he was awarded both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year honor by the USTFCCCA. Cianelli was also named the ACC Indoor Men’s Coach of the Year for leading the Hokies to their second ACC Indoor Track and Field Title in three years. Since 2007, Cianelli has been selected as the ACC Coach of the Year nine times and the NCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year 13 times.
Cianelli has assembled one of the most accomplished coaching staffs in America. Associate Head Track and Field coach Greg Jack has produced 12 NCAA individual National Champions and 61 All-America honors in the throwing events during his coaching career at Virginia Tech. Jack has also coached a total of 47 conference champions, 40 of those in the ACC and another eight in the Big East Conference. Jack has also coached several Olympians including Olympic finalists Marcel Lomnicky in the hammer throw and Cleopatra Borel in the shot put. Jack was selected as the National Throws Coach of the Year in 2006.
Former Hokie Ben Thomas is the Head Cross Country and Distance coach. Thomas guided the Tech women’s cross country team to an NCAA berth and a top-25 finish in 2014 marking the team’s second NCAA appearance in program history. In 2012, Thomas led the Hokies to the ACC title in cross country and to the NCAA National Cross Country Championships where they placed 22nd. Thomas was selected ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year for 2012. His athletes have produced 29 All America honors and 35 conference champions during his tenure at Tech.
Bob Phillips, an All-American for Virginia Tech in the pole vault in 1980, coaches the Tech pole vaulters. Phillips was recognized in 2011 by the USTFCCCA as the NCAA Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Since 2000, Phillip’s athletes have earned 34 All-America honors in the pole vault and he has coached a total of 39 conference champions at Virginia Tech, including 28 in the ACC.
Cianelli added Paul Zalewski to his staff in 2014, serving as the technical director as well as the coach of all jumps and multi-events. Manuel Ziegler led Zalewski’s jumpers as the 2015 ACC Champion in the triple jump, setting a new ACC all-time indoor record of 54-6 (16.61 meters). Ziegler registered an outdoor mark of 25-10.25 (7.88 meters), placing him second on Virginia Tech’s all-time list in the long jump.
Eric Johannigmeier joined the staff in a full-time capacity in the fall of 2014 and serves as the assistant cross country and distance coach. Johannigmeier served as a volunteer assistant for the Hokies from 2011-2013, taking part in three ACC Championships and a men’s fifth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. In 2014, Johannigmeier played a role in developing both Thomas Curtin and Hanna Green into All-Americans while also guiding the women’s cross country team to an second NCAA program berth resulting in a top-25 finish.
Tim Vaught was the most recent addition in 2015 to Cianelli’s staff as the sprints, hurdles, and relays coach, coming from Illinois where he served as the women’s associate head track & field coach. Prior to Illinois, Vaught spent time at UNC-Charlotte and Coastal Carolina where was a part of six conference championship teams, including the 2013 Big South Indoor Championship at Coastal Carolina.
The Virginia Tech track & field and cross country programs continue to achieve at a high level in the classroom. 2014 saw Frances Dowd and Stephan Munz named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team. In 2013, Alexander Ziegler was named by the USTFCCCA as the National Student Athlete of the Year as well as a Capital One Indoor Academic First Team All American. Frances Dowd won the NCAA Elite 89 Award for the 2012 NCAA Indoor season honoring the student-athlete with the highest GPA at the NCAA Championships. Kelly Phillips became a two time Capital One Academic First Team All American in 2011. Kelly also won the NCAA Elite 88 Award as the student athlete with the highest GPA at the NCAA Championships. For the 2014 season, 18 total Hokie track and field athletes were named to the All-ACC Academic Team. In addition, the women’s cross country team earned USTFCCCA All-Academic recognition for the eighth year 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. Since 2004, 10 Virginia Tech track and field athletes have earned a total of 15 Academic All-America honors.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE
Prior to Tech, Cianelli was an assistant coach for 13 seasons at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. With the Mustangs, Cianelli worked with 19 Olympic and World Championship competitors, 27 NCAA National Champions, 123 All-Americans and 95 conference champions. Cameron Taylor of New Zealand was a 1992 Olympian and All-American in the 200-meters, and Tytti Reho won the 2000 NCAA National Championship in the 800-meters. In cross country, both the men’s and women’s teams won the 1995 Southwest Conference Championship and earned a spot in the NCAA National Championships.
During Cianell’s 13 years at SMU, the track and field teams finished in the top-10 at the NCAA National Track and Field Championships 15 separate times. Cianelli served as the assistant women’s track and field and cross country coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from 1985 to 1988, where he helped the outdoor track and field teams to three straight runner-up finishes at the NCAA Division II Championships. Cianelli also coached a total of 13 All Americans and one NCAA National Champion while at Cal Poly SLO. Cianelli began his coaching career at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, Calif., as the head boys and girls track and field coach from 1982 to 1984. In three seasons, he coached seven junior national qualifiers in the heptathlon and decathlon.