June 8, 2016
Torben Laidig places second at NCAA Championships
Five Hokies collect All-America honors
  • NCAA Outdoor Championships


EUGENE, Ore. - With his silver medal, pole vaulter Torben Laidig led the Virginia Tech track & field team on day one of the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

The seventh-ranked men's team is tied for 12th, following Laidig's eight points.

The sophomore led throughout the event, clearing the first three bars on his first attempt. Earning his first all-America first team honor, Laidig’s silver medal mark was 5.55 meters (18-2.5), just shy of a personal best.

“When it came to the final jump, of course, I wanted to win it, but [Tennessee’s] Jake Blankenship came out on top,” Laidig said. “Being only a sophomore so I’m really excited about what is to come.”

Laidig’s second place finish, ties the best finish in the pole vault at the national meet (Brian Mondschein, 2005 and Yavgeniy Olhovsky, 2008).

"Today was a little bittersweet," assistant track & field coach Bob Phillips said. "It was awesome to watch Torben compete so well and grab the silver medal spot. But the other guys [Brad Johnson, Chris Uhle, and Deakin Volz] were ready to jump high too and we just didn't make the right adjustments."

In the same event, Brad Johnson placed 12th to earn second team all-America honors while Chris Uhle placed 17th and Deakin Volz came up short of the first mark.

"Overall, it was an amazing year for the vaulters," Phillips said. "I am extremely proud of what the whole group accomplished this year and am excited about some even bigger possibilities for next year."

Neil Gourley was off to a strong start in heat two of the men’s 1,500 meters, holding the seventh position throughout the race. Despite a solid kick in the final turn, Gourley narrowly missed the final by 11-hundreths of a second while setting a collegiate best of 3:41.33. With his 13th place overall mark, Gourley garnered second team all-America honors.

“It was a tough race for Neil [Gourley], missing the final by a tenth of a second,” head cross country and distance coach Ben Thomas said. “But he'll be back and has had a good season overall. He's going home to Scotland now to compete in the British Olympic trials.”

In his first attempt of the day, Tomas Kruzliak took the lead in flight one of the hammer with a 68.27-meter (223-11) throw. He followed up his mark, improving to 68.32 meters (224-11) to clinch the second place position at the conclusion of the flight. At the conclusion of the second flight, Kruzliak moved to the 10th position, earning second team all-America honors.

Patrick Joseph rounded out day one’s running events in the 800 meters. The junior held his position on the rail throughout the race until the final turn. With his final kick, Joseph moved up to the sixth positition, finishing in 1:48.57. Joseph was the 16th overall finisher, earning second team all-America honors.

“Patrick [Joseph] has done amazingly well after coming back from mono in indoors,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t his best race here but he gave good effort. If he puts together a solid year of training from here, the sky's the limit!”

Matija Muhar set the standard on his first attempt in the second flight of the javelin. The freshman, ACC champion threw 69.53 meters (228-1) for his best mark of the day. Muhar placed 19th overall in his first NCAA appearance.

Sabine Kopplin and Hanna Green will represent the Hokies on day two of the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, beginning at 8:45 p.m. ET in the javelin.

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