No. 7 Hokies sweep USTFCCCA Southeast Region honors

Full List
Award Winners

BLACKSBURG – On the heels of its fourth Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) indoor title, the No. 7-ranked Virginia Tech men’s track and field team earned four U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honors for the NCAA Division I Southeast Region, as announced on Monday.

Dave Cianelli was named the 2017 Southeast Region Coach of the Year, while Tech’s assistant cross country and distance coach Ben Thomas was named the 2017 Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Additionally, redshirt junior Patrick Joseph and sophomore Deakin Volz were named the Men’s Track and Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, respectively, for the first time in their careers.

Cianelli earned the honor for the 15th time in his 16-year Virginia Tech tenure, as he helped guide the Hokie men to their fourth ACC indoor title – all of which have come since 2011. The men’s squad totaled 109 points in the win, finishing 11 points ahead of in-state rival Virginia.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men’s Coach of the Year,” Cianelli said. “What makes this award so special is that it is selected by a vote of my peers throughout our region. This award really belongs to each of our student-athletes and my coaching staff who have worked and performed at a high level this season.

“Congratulations to Coach Thomas, Patrick Joseph and Deakin Volz for also being recognized with a regional award.”

Thomas received the recognition for just the third time in his 16-year tenure, as he was instrumental in helping guide the Hokie men to their fourth ACC Championship title. His distance and middle distance runners scored 62 of the team’s 109 total points, as they claimed ACC titles in the 800-meter run, mile and distance medley relay.

On the national list, his athletes are ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the 800, No. 11 in the mile and No. 10 in the distance medley relay.

Joseph, the 2017 ACC champion in the 800 meters, passed teammate Drew Piazza on the final lap to finish in a meet-record time of 1:46.23. The Leesburg, Virginia, native also broke the program record in the event set by Piazza in the preliminary round of the ACC Championships the day before. Currently, Joseph’s time is ranked No. 1 on the regional list and No. 2 on the national list. He also was a member of the No. 11 distance medley relay team (9:31.15).

“I think of both of these awards as team awards,” Thomas said. “Patrick ran a tremendous race and always brings out his very best for the biggest races. He had not won a race all season, but still raced at ACC’s like he believed he could win. That’s hard to do. But without Drew Piazza, Neil Gourley or Vincent Ciattei there pushing him in practice every day, he doesn’t win that race.

“As for the coaching award, without my very capable assistants and these hard-working athletes, we do not win. This is their award. We very much appreciate and are humbled to be voted for and recognized by our competition in receiving this recognition.”

Volz, the 2017 ACC runner-up in the pole vault event, holds an ACC- and school-record vault of 5.66 meters (18 ft., 6.75 inches) set at the Virginia Tech Challenge on Feb. 18. The Bloomington, Indiana, native currently owns the top mark in the region and is listed as the No. 2 vautler in the nation behind South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen.

“Deakin has been more consistent in his jumps this year compared to last year,” pole vault coach Bob Phillips said. “Of course, setting the all-time ACC record was a great accomplishment, but we still have some more things to accomplish. I’m feeling pretty good about where we are at this point. Now, we just have to keep going on this trajectory heading into NCAA’s.”

Award winners were determined by a vote of USTFCCCA member coaches. Only those individuals from USTFCCCA member programs are eligible for awards.

Click HERE for the USTFCCCA’s full release.

A group of 10 Hokies will compete at this year’s NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

ESPN3 will provide live streaming Friday at 6:25 p.m. ET and Saturday at 4:55 p.m. Of note, a condensed television replay will air on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The NCAA Championships are the final event of the 2017 indoor season before transitioning to the outdoor season on March 24-25 at the Weems Baskins Invitational in Columbia, South Carolina.

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