Tech concludes Hokie Invitational with more strong performances

Hokie Invitational
Final results

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech’s Deakin Volz won the men’s pole vault and Will Kendall finished a surprising second in the men’s high jump to highlight the Hokies’ performances on the final day of the Hokie Invitational held Saturday at Rector Field House.

Torben Laidig (men’s pole vault) and Eszter Bajnok (women’s long jump) also recorded second-place finishes, while Courtney Blanden (400) came in third on a day when the Hokies saw 10 athletes record personal bests. Tech’s athletes recorded 29 personal records over the course of the meet.

“I feel really good about where we are overall for our second competition,” Tech Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Dave Cianelli said. “We held a few people out because they’re going to be competing next week or they’re dinged up. It’ll be fun to see how we round out over this next month to five weeks leading up to the conference meet.

“I still think we’re on our way up. We certainly haven’t peaked. We’re right where we need to be with a month to go, and we’ll be exactly where we need to be in a month.”

Volz, who won the gold medal at the World U-20 Championships last summer, finished with an indoor personal-best vault of 5.51 meters (18 feet, 1 inch). That vault was the fifth-best indoor vault in school history.

Volz edged Laidig, who came in second at 5.41 meters (17 feet, 9 inches). James Steck was third, and Brad Johnson came in fifth. Laidig’s vault tied for the 10th-best indoor vault in school history.

“The vaulters are coming around,” Cianelli said. “Deakin and Torben are over 5.50 [meters] in the first couple of meets, and they’re starting to round into shape after the break. It usually takes a few weeks to get that going.”

Kendall, a junior from Midlothian, Virginia who made the team last year, came in second in the men’s high jump with a personal-record jump of 2.06 meters (6 feet, 9 inches). NC State’s Christopher Garrick won the event with a top jump of 2.10 meters (6 feet, 10.75 inches).

Kendall beat his previous personal best by more than four inches. His jump now ranks as the fifth-best indoor high jump in Tech history. Teammate James Carver came in sixth with a personal-best vault of 2.01 meters (6 feet, 7 inches).

“Very proud of Will today,” jumps coach Paul Zalewski said. “It’s been a long time coming for him and a whole lot of hard work. But for him to get a PR [personal record] today just punctuates and justifies the work that he’s put in and the determination he’s shown me these past three years. I can’t wait to see to the progression the rest of this season.”

Bajnok and Blanden headline the efforts for the women’s squad. Bajnok, who won the triple jump last weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational, came in second in the long jump on Saturday. She jumped 5.81 meters (19 feet, .75 inches) to come in behind Duke’s Sydnei Murphy, who won with a jump of 6.05 meters (19 feet, 10.25 inches)

Blanden easily recorded a personal best in the 400, coming in third with a time of 54.54 seconds. Her time is now the sixth-best indoor time in the event in school history.

Blanden headlined a good day for the sprinters on both the men’s and women’s teams. Ama-Selina Tchume recorded a personal best in the 400 (56.65 seconds) to come in eighth, and Greg Chiles was fourth in the men’s 400 (48.26), which is now the seventh-best indoor time in the event in school history. Dante Price came in fourth in the men’s 200 with a time of 21.87 seconds.

“I think the sprints/hurdles group had a good weekend, considering most athletes only ran in one event,” sprints and hurdles coach Tim Vaught said. “Courtney opened up in the 400 faster than she ran last year during the outdoor season. She’s been a leader all fall, and now she’s backing it up on the track. I’m proud of her and Ama-Selina Tchume ran a personal best [in the 400], too. I’m proud of her and how hard the team is working to be competitive in the ACC.

“On the men’s side, Greg Chiles ran a very good 400 to set himself up to be very good in the future. Dante Price put together a strong performance in the 200. That’s the fastest 200 to open a season in his career. The men’s group is really working hard to continue Virginia Tech’s winning tradition. I’m super excited to get everybody healthy to really put together a strong meet.”

Other top performances came from Olivia Privitera and Erica Hjerpe, who were fourth and eighth, respectively, in the women’s pole vault. Privitera’s top vault of 3.87 meters (12 feet, 8.25 inches) was a personal best.

A contingent from Tech will compete next weekend at the Penn State National Invitational held Friday and Saturday in State College, Pennsylvania, and the sprinters and hurdlers will compete at a meet held at Clemson. The Hokies return home the following weekend for the Virginia Tech “Doc Hale” Elite Meet.


Women’s pole vault

Olivia Privitera (3.87 meters; 12 feet, 8.25 inch)

Men’s pole vault

Deakin Volz (5.51 meters; 18 feet, 1 inch)

High jump

Will Kendall (2.06 meters; 6 feet, 9 inches)

James Carver (2.01 meters; 6 feet, 7 inches)


Courtney Blanden (54.54 seconds)

Ama-Selina Tchume (56.65 seconds)

Greg Chiles (48.26 seconds)

Matthew Baker (50.13 seconds)


Jared Bane (22.10 seconds)

Long jump

Eszter Bajnok (5.81 meters; 19 feet, .75 inch)

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