Tech men run away with fourth ACC indoor title

ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships

Final Results

All-ACC Selections

SOUTH BEND – An all-around team effort from top to bottom proved to be the difference, as the No. 21-ranked Virginia Tech men’s track and field team claimed the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Indoor Track and Field Championship team title Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center.

The Hokies scored 109 points, beating out in-state rival Virginia by 11 points. Florida State came in third with 86 points, while Clemson (76) and Syracuse (47) rounded out the top five, placing fourth and fifth, respectively.

With Saturday’s win, the men’s squad claimed its fourth ACC indoor title – all of which have come since 2011 under Dave Cianelli, Tech’s director of track and field and cross country. The Hokies most recently won the event in 2015 at their own track in Blacksburg.

“It’s never easy,” Cianelli said. “This conference is so good, and it’s getting better every year. To bring a group together and be able to perform and win a championship is special. Whether it’s your first or your 10th, it doesn’t really matter. Every one of them is very special.

“With that said, it was an amazing day for our men’s team. We really needed a perfect day to win this meet, and our guys really came through – from the middle distance runners all the way to the sprinters and vaulters. It feels great to win another ACC Championship. Right now, this marks our fourth ACC indoor title on the men side, and we are really proud of what we accomplished today. We hope to do it again come the outdoor season. Go Hokies!”

In all, Tech’s men claimed three individual titles on the final day of the championships. Torben Laidig, Patrick Joseph and Vincent Ciattei each earned gold medals in their respective events to help power the Hokies to a team title.

The day started off with the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Aaron Simpson was a true competitor in the event, finishing in fifth place with a time of 8.16 seconds, earning the Hokies four points right off the bat.

Key points also were earned by Ciattei, who won the men’s mile for the Hokies. Diego Zarate finished third overall in the same event. The race was dramatic in itself because it looked as if Virginia’s Henry Wynne, the reigning 2016 NCAA champion in the mile, was going to claim the title. However, Ciattei used a tremendous kick on the final straightaway to surge ahead of Wynne and claim the win with a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 1.04 seconds. Zarate captured bronze and finished with a career-best time of 4:02.72, earning Tech a total of 16 points in the event.

Virginia was still within striking distance, but the Hokies were able to go 1-2 in the men’s 800-meter run, clinching valuable points. Tech had the ability to take the title from the get-go, as Drew Piazza recorded the fastest time in Friday’s prelims, but it was Joseph who ultimately won the race, beating Piazza on the final lap to claim gold. Joseph finished the race with a school-record time of 1:46.23 for the win. He also notched an ACC Championship meet record in the event and broke Piazza’s school-record prelim time of 1:47.71 set Friday afternoon. Piazza finished the race with a lifetime-best time of 1:46.42, as the Hokie duo captured 18 team points overall.

Greg Chiles competed in the men’s 200- and 400-meter dashes for the Hokies. Chiles finished seventh in the 400, earning two points for Tech. He then bounced back in the 200, landing on the podium with a third-place finish. Michael Davenport also competed in the 200, finishing in fifth with a time of 21.40. Overall, Davenport and Chiles clinched Tech 10 total points in the 200-meter event.

While the running events were going on, the men’s pole vault event proved to be the biggest point earner for the Hokies. Four of five athletes competing in the event racked up points toward the team total, with Laidig claiming a gold medal. Despite bruising his left eye midway through competition, Laidig finished with an ACC Championship meet record, vaulting a height of 5.55 meters (18 ft., 2.5 in.). Deakin Volz, who owns the ACC record in the pole vault, finished behind his teammate with a vault of 5.50 meters (18 ft., .5 in.). Brad Johnson and James Steck also earned points for the Hokies, tying for fourth place with a jump of 5.20 meters (17 ft., .75 in.). Additionally, Jeffrey Linta came back from an injury and competed in the event for the first time this season, placing 14th. Overall, Tech’s pole vault crew accumulated 27 points.

Additionally, Tech had seven competitors in the men’s 3,000-meter run. Daniel Jaskowak ran away with a silver-medal finish in the event, crossing the finish line with a time 8:05.96. Of note, Syracuse’s Justyn Knight ran away with the title for the second straight year. Neil Gourley and Peter Seufer also scored for Tech in the event, finishing in fourth and sixth place, respectively.

Tech’s 4x400-meter relay team of Brandon Thomas, Davenport, Chiles and Piazza finished in seventh place overall, earning the Hokies two more points to bring the squad’s point total to 109.

It wasn’t only the men’s team that put in quality performances on the final day of competition. Hanna Green easily defended her title in the women’s 800-meter race for the third straight year, recording a career-best time of 2:02.28 for the win. Green reset her own program mark of 2:03.18 set at last year’s ACC Championships. She also set a new ACC Championship meet record in the event. In the same race, Rachel Pocratsky claimed a bronze medal with a personal-best time of 2:04.60. Laurie Barton also placed seventh with a time of 2:08.79.

Courtney Blanden had amazing performances in the sprint events throughout the whole weekend, as she qualified for the finals in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Blanden set a new school record in the 200, notching a time of 23.60 seconds for a personal-best mark. Britni Spruill held the previous mark of 23.62 seconds set in 2008. Blanden earned a spot on the stand for her efforts, taking home a bronze medal in the event.

In the women’s field events, Eszter Bajnok appeared in her first ACC Championships as a freshman, tying the school record in the triple jump event with a mark of 12.60 meters (41 ft., 4.25 in.). April Byrd set that mark back in 2000. Overall, Bajnok notched a fourth-place finish on the day.

The women’s 4x400-meter relay team also set a new program record with a season-best time of 3:37.42, good enough for fourth place. The Hokie quartet of Ama-Selina Tchume, Arlicia Bush, Green and Blanden broke the previous mark of 3:38.16 set in 2011.

Overall, the women’s team finished in eighth place with 41 total points.

The Tech men and women combined won four individual ACC championships.

Looking ahead, the Hokies will be back in action in two weeks, as several Tech athletes will head to the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Of note, the ACC Indoor Championships served as two points in the Commonwealth Clash, presented by Virginia529, the official college savings plan of Virginia Tech Athletics. With higher finishes Saturday from both the Virginia Tech men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams, the Hokies added two points to the school’s overall total in the race for the Virginia529 Commonwealth Clash.

PERSONAL BESTS

Triple Jump

Eszter Bajnok (12.60 meters)

Mile

Vincent Ciattei (4:01.04)

Diego Zarate (4:02.72)

200

Courtney Blanden (23.60)

400

Courtney Blanden (53.54)

800

Hanna Green (2:02.28)

Rachel Pocratsky (2:04.60)

Patrick Joseph (1:46.23)

Drew Piazza (1:46.42)

3,000

Kayla Richardson (9:38.32)

Sarah Edwards (9:43.03)

Jack Joyce (8:16.04)

Ashkan Mohammadi (8:20.39)

Peter Seufer (8:09.29)

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