Tech gears up for 2017 ACC Indoor Championships

BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech track and field teams travel to South Bend, Indiana, to compete at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Indoor Track & Field Championships beginning on Thursday through Saturday at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center.

The ACC Network will live stream action the final two days, with former Olympic decathlon gold medalist Dan O’Brien serving as color analyst, reprising the role he first filled at the 2015 ACC Outdoor Championships. He will be joined by veteran ESPN play-by-play announcer Shawn Kenney. Coverage will air from 3:30 p.m. through 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and from 12:30 p.m. until the meet’s conclusion on Saturday. Admission is free to the 2017 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships, and fans can follow @VT_Track on Twitter for updates and additional information.

At the 2016 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships, Hanna Green, was the lone Tech competitor to take home gold in the 800-meter run. The women’s squad, behind Green, came in 12th place with 25.5 points. The men’s team finished in fifth place with 58 points.

Already this season, the Hokies have set several personal-best marks as well as seven new program records.

In their last weekend of competition, the Hokies reset four school records, including Neil Gourley, who broke a 30-year record in the 1,000-meter run. His time of 2:20.54 was more than a second better than the previous mark of 2:21.91 set by Gary Cobb in 1987. Also, Drew Piazza and Green, the reigning ACC Track Performers of the Week, set school records in the 600, with Green breaking her previous mark set two seasons ago. Deakin Volz’s 5.66-meter (18 ft., 6.75 in.) mark in the pole vault broke teammate Torben Laidig’s Tech and ACC record of 5.62 meters set last season. Of note, Volz also was named the Men’s Field Performer of the Week.

Additionally, Greg Chiles reset the program record in the 400 twice this season, eclipsing a season-best mark of 47.42 seconds at the Music City Challenge. At the same meet, the Hokie quartet of Chiles, Piazza, Brandon Thomas and Michael Davenport captured gold in the 4x400 relay and broke the school record, previously set in 1999, recording a time of 3 minutes, 11.11 seconds. In the 1,000 meters, Rachel Pocratsky reset the program record from 2015 to 2:44.23 at the Hokie Invitational last month.

The Hokies will compete against 14 women’s teams and 13 men’s teams. Individual first- through third-place finishes will earn first team All-ACC honors, while fourth through sixth will earn second team accolades. In the relay events, first place will be named first team All-ACC, with second and third earning second team honors.

Competition begins Thursday and Friday at 11 a.m. and Saturday at noon. The 2017 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. with an awards ceremony.

Sprints/Hurdles: To begin the sprints, both Ama-Selina Tchume and Courtney Blanden will compete in the 200-meter dash. Blanden set a personal-best time of 23.82 at the Doc Hale VT Elite Meet, while Tchume recorded a personal-best mark of 24.08 at the Virginia Tech Challenge last weekend. Blanden and Tchume’s 200-meter marks are the third- and 10th-fastest time, respectively, in Tech history. Shannon Quinn and Arlicia Bush, in addition to Blanden and Tchume, will participate in the 400-meter sprint. Blanden also leads that group with a 54.38 personal-best time, ranking fourth on the all-time performance list. In addition, Jada Gundran and Shanel Burr are slated to compete in the 60-meter hurdles, with Burr’s time of 8.34 leading the group.

On the men’s side, Dante Price will be the lone Hokie competing in the 60-meter dash. Price will then join Chiles, Jared Bane and Michael Davenport in the 200-meter dash, as Davenport leads the group with a season-best time of 21.50 seconds set at the Bob Pollock Invitational. Chiles will lead the Hokies in the 400 meters after posting a career-best and school-record time of 47.42 at the Music City Challenge. Davenport, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Baker and Alexander Merritt will join Chiles in the 400-meter dash. In addition, Aaron Simpson is slated to participate in the 60-meter hurdles after posting a lifetime-best time of 8.05 seconds at the Virginia Tech Challenge.

Distance: Green will lead the Hokies in the 800 meters after posting a season-best time of 2:03.31 at the Camel City Invitational. Pocratsky, Laurie Barton, Sarah Edwards and Catherine Stone will join Green in the 800-meter run. Kayla Richardson and Tessa Riley will run the mile for the Hokies. Katie Kennedy, in addition to Richardson and Edwards, will represent Tech in the 3,000-meter run, while Jennifer Fleming and Sara Freix will compete in the 5,000. Kennedy leads the 3,000-meter group with a lifetime-best time of 9:30.45 set at the Music City Challenge, ranking sixth on Tech’s all-time performance list. Of note, Fleming and Freix were the only Tech student-athletes to compete in the 5,000-meter run all season, with Fleming’s time of 17:22.25 leading the group.

For the men, Piazza, Owen Buck, Kevin Cianfarini and Patrick Joseph will run the 800 meters, with Piazza’s time of 1:49.41 leading the quartet. Ashkan Mohammadi, Vincent Ciattei, Diego Zarate and Andrew Goldman will run the mile for the Hokies. In addition, Goldman, Mohammadi, Jack Joyce, Peter Seufer, Daniel Jaskowak, Neil Gourley and Brent Musselmen will represent Tech in the 3,000 meter run, dividing up into two sections, while Seufer Musselmen and Joyce also will compete in the 5,000. Seufer lead’s Musselman and Joyce in the 5,000 with a time of 14:17.65 set at the Music City Challenge.

Pole Vault: Olivia Privitera holds the top spot on the women’s team with a career-best vault of 3.92 meters (12 ft., 10.25 in). Privitera’s top mark helped her win her first collegiate meet at the Penn State Nationals earlier this season. Erica Hjerpe ranks second with her season-best vault of 3.87 meters (12 ft., 8.25 in.), placing fourth at the Doc Hale VT Elite Meet.

One the men’s side, the vaulters hold four of the top five spots in the conference. Volz ranks No. 1 with a career-best height of 5.66 meters (18 ft., 6.75 in.) set at the Virginia Tech Challenge last weekend, followed by Laidig at No. 2 with a season-best vault of 5.52 meters (18 ft., 1.25 in.) set at the Doc Hale VT Elite Meet. Volz and Laidig also boast the second- and sixth-best vault in the nation, respectively. Additionally, Brad Johnson and James Steck rank fourth (5.27 meters) and fifth (5.21 meters), respectively, in the league. Jeffrey Linta also will compete in the event.

Jumps: Estzer Bajnok will represent the women in the long jump and triple jump events this weekend. The 2016 Hungarian Junior Female Athlete of the Year won the triple jump at the Virginia Tech Invitational with a season-best jump of 12.52 meters (41 ft., 1 in.). Her triple jump was the second-best mark in school history. She also finished second in the long jump at the Hokie Invitational with a top jump of 5.81 meters (19 ft., .75 in.), marking the fourth-best mark in program history.

For the men, William Kendall and James Carver will both compete in the high jump event. Kendall holds a best mark of 2.06 meters (6 ft., 9 in.) set at the Hokie Invitational earlier this year, marking the fifth-best jump in the event in school history. James Carver also shows a personal-best mark of 2.01 meters (6 ft., 7 in.) set at that same meet.

Multi Events: Mackenzie Muldoon will make up the multis for Virginia Tech, as he will compete in the heptathlon for the second time this season. Muldoon came in second with 4,771 points at the Hokie Invitational, while also competing in the five events throughout the season.

Looking ahead, the Hokies will have one week off from competition prior to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships held in College Station, Texas, from March 9-11.

For updates on Virginia Tech track & field, follow the Hokies on Twitter