May 28, 2016
Curtin, Gourley qualify for NCAA Championships
Hokies to send 12 to Eugene - third most in program history
  • NCAA East Regional Preliminary

RESULTS

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The No. 13 Virginia Tech men’s track and field team wrapped up the NCAA East Regional Preliminary Rounds with two more national qualifiers on Saturday night at Hodges Stadium.

Neil Gourley set the tone in the 1,500 meters, automatically qualifying with a third place mark. Thomas Curtin topped off the night with a first place finish in the 5,000 meters to punch his second ticket to the outdoor championship.

Tech’s 12 national qualifiers is the third most in program history behind 16 participants in 2012 and 13 in 2010.

Gourley started the day off strong for the Hokies punching his first ticket to the national meet in the 1,500-meter quarterfinal.

“I’m really happy for Neil [Gourley] because he was 13th here last year so he was the first guy out,” head cross country and distance coach Ben Thomas said. “He’s really excited to be competing in his first national outdoor meet. He’s ready to run fast when it counts.”

Gourley trailed in the 10th spot through the first two laps before making a strategic move during the bell lap to move into third place.

“These quarterfinals are so tough to get through,” Thomas said. “There’s such a fine line. The level of guys is so close, one through 10. So the plan was to get out and be right in the front. Obviously, that didn’t happen. He didn’t panic. He was on the inside and luckily got an opening in the bell lap to move into the top five.”

Gourley held on during the final straightaway, finishing third in 3:46.78.

“We’re excited for Eugene,” Thomas said. “We think he has a really good shot to do something special.

In the final heat of the 5,000 meters, Curtin was ready to fight for his final shot at qualifying for the national meet. Despite sitting in the middle of the pack until the final four laps, the ACC champion held title to the rail, sitting in a strong position.

“It’s a relief,” Thomas said. “Anything can happen in these qualifying meets. It’s not that you have to win, you just have to be top five but pride comes to the surface to get the win.”

With only the final 100 meters to go, Curtin’s well-known final kick came in handy as he closed in on Syracuse’s Justyn Knight for the first place finish in 14:06.44.

“We’re excited for NCAAs and going hunting for a national title,” Thomas said.

Peter Seufer ran a strong race, improving positions on nearly every turn to finish ninth in the 5,000 meters.

Triple jumper Manuel Ziegler scratched due to a hamstring injury.

The Hokies will have one week off before heading to the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon June 8 through 11.

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