December 9, 2014
Cianelli announces 2015 men's track & field recruiting class
Hokies add two national champions and several high school standouts

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Dave Cianelli and his staff have announced the 2015 men's track & field recruiting class that features two national champions in their respective countries and several high school standouts, rounding out an impressive 11-member class that will join the Hokies in the fall of 2015.

"Our coaches worked extremely hard on this recruiting class and as a result we signed our most talented and deepest men's class in my fourteen years at Virginia Tech," explained Cianelli. "These new student-athletes will put our program in a position to compete for ACC Championships and top-ten finishes at NCAA National meets."

Manuel Ziegler


Dresden, Germany

University of Memphis

The 2014 German national champion in the triple jump Manuel Ziegler brings not only experience at the international level, but also experience competing at the highest level in Division I track & field. Ziegler who previously attended the University of Memphis, was the silver medalist in the triple jump at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Ziegler's personal bests are 16.54 meters (54' 3.25") in the triple jump and 7.36 meters (24'1.75") in the long jump.

Paul Zalewski on Ziegler: “Our program hit the jackpot with Manuel Ziegler. This young man comes to us already having accomplished so much in his career and will be an immediate impact for us both at the ACC and NCAA levels. Having a jumper of his quality and with his experience sets our program up for great things. And as good as he already is, there is still a lot of improvement to been seen. I’m looking forward to that journey with him.”

Ziegler on why he chose Virginia Tech:I chose Virginia Tech to focus on my academic and athletic career. I am convinced that the esteemed academic programs at Virginia Tech will help me to archive my future career goals. Next to my academic career, the great track and field facilities and coaching staff will allow me to focus on my athletic training."

Ihab El Hajri



Iowa Western CC

A seven-time Moroccan national triple jump champion, Ihab El Hajri joins the Hokies with three years of eligibility and a wealth of experience on the international stage. In 2013, El Hajri was the North African Championships gold medalist in the triple jump and in 2012, he was the Arab Championships silver medalist in the same event. In addition, El Hajri also holds the Moroccan Youth triple jump record. El Hajri's personal bests are 16.10 meters (52'10") in the triple jump and 7.55m (24'9.25") in the long jump.

Paul Zalewski on El Hajri: “What I really like about Ihab El Hajri is that this young man just won’t quit. Every step of the way, he has been determined to come to Virginia Tech and has done absolutely everything asked of him to make that a reality. That kind of focus and drive is what you need if you’re going to be truly great. Combine that mentality with the tremendous talent he has, and you’ve got a special, special athlete. The ACC and the NCAA better watch out; the future is bright for this guy.”

El Hajri on why he chose Virginia Tech: “I want to come to Virginia Tech because they have a good business school and great facilities. The coaching staff has done so much to help me get to the US, and I cannot be more thankful to them. I wouldn’t be here without their help and I am excited to get to Virginia Tech and train.”

Deakin Volz

Pole Vault

Bloomington, Ind.

Bloomington South HS

Deakin Volz comes to Virginia Tech as one of the top ranked pole vaulters in the country with a personal best of 5.26 meters (17'3"). He was the 2014 Indiana State Champion where he raised the meet record to 17' ½". The Indiana GATORADE Track and Field Athlete of the Year and a Mile Split All-American, Deakin finished the outdoor season with three straight meets over the 17' mark.

Bob Phillips on Volz: “Deakin is a great addition to the Virginia Tech program, he is an extremely focused competitor, consistently performing at a high level even under adverse conditions. He is a real student of the event and will fit in extremely well with the group we have returning next year."

Volz on why he chose Virginia Tech: “"It was the place I felt the most comfortable; I felt like I fit from the moment I arrived."

Matija Muhar


Jesenice, Slovenia

Matija Muhar is considered the best javelin prospect in the world. He captured the silver medal for Slovenia at the World Junior Championships as a 17 yearold last August and holds a personal best of 75.46 meters (247’7”) which is the second best performance thrown in the world last year by an athlete under 20 years old. He is a multiple Slovenian age group national champion and is considered a 2016 Olympic hopeful.

Greg Jack on Muhar: "Matija is a monster sign for the Virginia Tech Track and Field program. Matija will join his older brother Jaka to produce the best javelin duo in the NCAA."

Collin Hahn


Midlothian, Va.

Midlothian HS

Collin Hahn continues the streak of a long line of Midlothian High School distance runners who have come to Virginia Tech. He led Midlothian to the team title at the 2014 Virginia 4A State Cross Country Meet with his second-place finish. He was also a part of the winning 4x800- meter relay at the 4A State Outdoor Track Meet and finished runner-up in the 1600 meters at the 4A State Indoor and Outdoor Track Meets. He owns a mile personal best of 4:17 from his junior year of high school.

Ben Thomas on Hahn: “Collin comes from a very successful program and has been very well coached by Stan Morgan. We are thrilled to have another Midlothian alumni in our program. Mr. Hahn is used to being a part of a winning team and with his mix of speed and strength, I believe he has the potential to help us maintain our winning tradition here.”

Hahn on why he chose Virginia Tech: “I chose Virginia Tech because it’s a school that produces greatness and there is nothing better than being a Hokie!”

Gaige Kern


Alleghany, Va.

Alleghany HS

Gaige Kern is from Alleghany High School and is a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. He finished third at this year’s Virginia 3A State Cross Country Meet and fourth as a junior. His 1600 meters personal best is 4:17 and he finished third in the 1600 meters at the 2014 Virginia 3A State Indoor and Outdoor Track Meets.

Ben Thomas on Kern: “Gaige has been a very consistent performer in cross country the past two years. Coach Bartley has done very well guiding him at Alleghany and we like his mental toughness as well. He knows how to race and he also has the potential to develop tremendously in our program, as I do not think he has come close to his ceiling in terms of speed or endurance.”

Kern on why he chose Virginia Tech: “When my official visit went perfectly, I knew that Virginia Tech was the place I wanted to attend because I instantly felt at home with the team and coaches. I'm so excited for next year, and the excitement continues to build as I learn of other signees. All the names I've followed over the years, those who have consistently ran the times I shoot for, are all coming together under one roof next year, and I'm thankful to be a part of that!”

Alex Maguire


Fairfax, Va.

Fairfax HS

Alex Maguire is one of the fastest returning high school metric milers in the state of Virginia. He finished fourth in the 2014 Virginia 6A State Outdoor Track Meet in the 1600 meters and has a personal best of 4:15. He is an eight-time winner of the VHSL Student Athlete Award.

Ben Thomas on Maguire: “Alex has the ability to be very solid early on in the middle distances for us. He comes from the very competitive Northern Region in Virginia, so he is not afraid of high-level competition. His experience and talent give him a chance to be very strong at the ACC level.”

Maguire on why he chose Virginia Tech: “I chose VT because of the strong middle distance team and the overall good feelings I got when speaking to the coaches, staying in the dorms, and kicking it with the team.”

Jacob McCoy


Blacksburg, Va.

Blacksburg HS

Jacob McCoy is one of the best returning high school middle distance runners in the state of Virginia and was a member of the No. 2 ranked 4x800-meters relay indoors in Virginia all-time (U.S. No. 11 All-Time). He finished fourth in the 2014 Virginia 3A State Outdoor Track Meet in the 800 meters and has finished runner-up at the Virginia State Indoor Track Meet in the 500 meters and 1000 meters. His personal bests include a 1:54 in the 800 meters and 2:30 in the 1000 meters.

Ben Thomas on McCoy: “Jacob comes from a very successful program at Blacksburg High, he is used to winning team titles and can help us do the same. He is only in his second year of distance running and has improved quickly. He has the physical and mental talent to be very good in the middle distances.”

McCoy on why he chose Virginia Tech: “I chose Virginia Tech because it was a great opportunity for myself as a student-athlete to continue running, while receiving a higher level of education at an outstanding university. I love the atmosphere of the team and cannot wait to be a part of it.”

Peter Seufer


Lynchburg, Va.

E.C. Glass HS

Peter Seufer of E.C. Glass High School most recently qualified for the 2014 Footlocker Cross Country National Championships, running 14:59 in the 5000 meters at the regional meet. He won the 2014 Virginia 4A State Cross Country Meet as well as the 3200 meters at the 2014 4A State Outdoor Track Meet. Peter has also run times of 4:16 in the 1600 meters and 9:17 in the 3200 meters.

Ben Thomas on Seufer: “Peter is the pride of the Hilltopper's of EC Glass in the Hill City of Lynchburg VA! He is the first Men's Footlocker National Finalist from Glass and has made huge improvements in the last year. He is a very strong runner who is just beginning to develop his considerable talent. I cannot wait to work with him.”

Seufer on why he chose Virginia Tech: "I chose Virginia Tech because I felt comfortable there and knew that I would have a great team and a fantastic coaching staff behind me. I feel that we can and will accomplish great things in the future."

Chris Short


Toano, Va.

Warhill HS

Chris Short is a middle distance specialist out of Warhill High School. He finished runner up in the 800 meters at the 2014 Virginia 3A State Outdoor Track Meet as well as runner up in the 1000 meters at the 2014 Virginia 3A State Indoor Track Meet. He currently owns personal bests of 1:52 in the 800 meters and 2:31 in the 1000 meters.

Ben Thomas on Short: “Chris Short has great potential in the middle distances. I love the 400 speed he brings to the equation, and he is not afraid to challenge himself in cross country. He is the type of runner we have developed very well in the past. A very smart racer who has the will to go after the competition.”

Short on why he chose Virginia Tech: “Out all of the schools that I looked at, Virginia Tech not only had a great Engineering Program and a great Track and Field program, but also an unmatched school spirit and pride. That’s why I chose Virginia Tech. They also have pretty good food!”

Diego Zarate


Germantown, Md.

Northwest HS

Diego Zarate is one of the most decorated distance runners in the state of Maryland. In 2014, he finished third at the Maryland 4A State Cross Country Meet, first in the 1600 meters at the state indoor and outdoor track meets, and third in the 3200 meters at the state indoor and outdoor track meets. Zarate’s personal bests are 1:56 in the 800 meters, 4:15 in the 1600 meters, 9:18 in the 3200 meters, and 15:26 for 5000 meters in cross country.

Ben Thomas on Zarate: “Diego Zarate is another raw talent who brings a great will to win to the table. He really started to come on last spring in the outdoor season and followed that up with a very strong cross country season this fall. He has good speed, natural endurance, and a very efficient stride. Has great range and the potential to run fast from the mile through the 10k.”

Zarate on why he chose Virginia Tech: "Many of my friends and family have asked me why I chose Virginia Tech. My response to them was well, why not? Virginia Tech has so much to offer in not only their academics such as the College of Engineering, but in their athletics as well. I honestly believe that at Virginia Tech I can become the greatest student and athlete I can possibly be."

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