More school records fall during Saturday's competition

Highlighted by juniors Courtney Blanden and Greg Chiles record-breaking performances’ at Auburn University’s War Eagle Invitational in Auburn, Alabama, the nationally-ranked Virginia Tech track and field teams concluded a successful day of competition at three different meets Saturday.

Blanden had amazing performances in the sprint events, as she captured gold in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Her 200-meter performance was by far her best performance of the day, though, as she set a new school record in the event with a time of 23.01 seconds for a personal-best mark. Tech alum Britni Spruill held the previous mark of 23.17 seconds set in 2007. The Weddington, North Carolina, native also finished with a career best in the 400 meters, notching a time of 53.48 seconds for the win.

Chiles also highlighted the men’s side with a school-record performance in the 400-meter hurdles, shattering a program record that had been in place for 18 years. The Chesapeake, Virginia, native eclipsed a lifetime-best time of 50.83 seconds, finishing in first place overall. Saturday’s mark broke Justin Davis’ previous time of 51.28 seconds set in 1999.

“Starting off the season, we had three weekends back-to-back-to-back,” said sprints, hurdles and relays coach Tim Vaught. “I think a big part of them being able to run those times was taking last weekend off. I knew they were going to come into today’s meet a little bit fresher than two weeks ago, and I knew that if they would execute the way that they needed to, it would be a fast time. I just didn’t think it would be a school-record time.

“Courtney [Blanden] had an amazing time. The way that she pulled out in front of people toward the end was amazing. It was a great day overall. It was a good atmosphere with good competition. They were ready for it. It was a hard work out week prior to today’s competition, but they were prepared for it when they had last weekend off.”

Of note, 15 other Hokies earned top-10 finishes in their respective events at the War Eagle Invitational.

With Blanden’s first-place finish in the women’s 400 meters, the Hokies were able to go 1-2 in the event, as freshman Arlicia Bush finished with a time of 53.92 seconds – good enough for second place overall.

The Hokies also claimed two of the top three spots in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, as sophomore Austin Kolko notched a lifetime-best time of 52.86 seconds for third place overall.

Freshman Michael Davenport and junior Darius Watkins qualified for the finals in the men’s 100-meter dash, finishing in sixth and seventh, respectively. Davenport clocked a new lifetime-best time of 10.47 seconds, as he continues to own the fastest time in the event in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Watkins finished with a time of 10.54 seconds, nearly breaking his previous career best.

Additionally, three Hokies captured personal bests in the men’s 400-meter sprint. Freshman Brandon Thomas scored a fourth-place finish and earned the Hokies’ top mark of the day with a time of 47.24 seconds. Freshman Matthew Baker finished in ninth with a time of 48.56 seconds, while sophomore Jack Strollo clocked a time of 48.88 seconds.

The men’s 4x100-meter relay team of Chiles, Davenport, Watkins and Dante Price also clocked a season-best time, finishing in 40.48 seconds for sixth place ovearll. The women’s 4x100-meter squad – Ama-Selina Tchume, Blanden, Bush and McKiver – tied their season best in the event with a time of 44.92 seconds.

In the field events, sophomore Will Kendall placed seventh in the men’s high jump with a career-best height of 2.02 meters (6 ft., 7.5 in.). Freshman Eszter Bajnok also competed in the women’s long jump for the first time this season, placing 10th overall with a mark of 5.86 meters (19 ft., 2.75 in.).

The distance runners and throwers also concluded competition at the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier today.

Junior Katie Kennedy and freshman Sarah Edwards both clocked personal bests in the 1,500-meter run, finishing the race in 4:26.80 and 4:26.81, respectively. On the men’s side, senior Neil Gourley and junior Vincent Ciattei placed fifth and ninth, respectively, while senior Ashkan Mohammadi and sophomore Andrew Goldman both earned career bests in the event.

Sophomore Peter Seufer earned a fourth-place finish in the men’s 5,000-meter run, clocking a personal-best time of 13:53.92. Sophomore Deigo Zarate and freshman Jack Joyce also ran lifetime bests in the event, finishing in 16th and 30th, respectively.

In the field events, the women hammer throwers claimed three of the top five spots in the event. Junior Pavla Kuklova placed second with a 62.24-meter throw (204 ft., 2 in.), while freshman Emma Thor threw for 61.50 meters (201 ft., 9 in.) and finished in third place overall. Freshman Kasja Wennberg rounded out the top five with a personal-best throw of 57.93 meters (190 ft.).

Lastly, Tech’s pole vaulters traveled to Durham, North Carolina, for the Duke Invitational held at Morris Williams Stadium on the university’s campus.

Sophomore Deakin Volz and senior Brad Johnson each earned season-best marks and placed third and fourth, respectively, in the men’s pole vault competition. Volz cleared the 5.41-meter bar (17 ft., 9 in.) on his third attempt, but unattached vaulters Austin Miller and Scott Houston both cleared the bar on their first jump to finish first and second, respectively. Of note, Johnson finished with a height of 5.31 meters (17 ft., 5 in.), tying his career-best mark set at last season’s Texas Relays.

Junior Olivia Privitera also competed in the women’s pole vault competition for the first time this season, jumping a height of 3.62 meters (11 ft., 10.5 in.) and tying for ninth place overall.

Looking ahead, the Hokies will divide and conquer yet again, continuing their outdoor season at the Penn Relays, the Radford Invitational and the Virginia Grand Prix held on April 27-29.

Fans can follow all the action during each meet of the 2017 outdoor season by following the squad on Twitter and Instagram.


Pole Vault

Brad Johnson (5.31 meters)

Long Jump

Eszter Bajnok (5.86 meters)

High Jump

Will Kendall (2.20 meters)

Hammer Throw

Kajsa Wennberg (57.93 meters)

100 meters

Michael Davenport (10.47)

200 meters

Courtney Blanden (23.01)

Ama-Selina Tchume (23.82)

400 meters

Courtney Blanden (53.48)

Brandon Thomas (47.24)

Matthew Baker (48.56)

Jack Strollo (48.88)

1,500 meters

Katie Kennedy (4:26.80)

Sarah Edwards (4:26.81)

Ashkan Mohammadi (3:47.84)

Andrew Goldman (3:49.36)

3,000-meter steeplechase

Sara Freix (11:00.32)

5,000 meters

Peter Seufer (13:53.92)

Diego Zarate (14:08.57)

Jack Joyce (14:17.40)

10,000 meters

Daniel Rau (30:24.14)

100 hurdles

Nora McKiver (13.68)

400 hurdles

Greg Chiles (50.83)

Austin Kolko (52.86)

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

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