Hokies prep for the 2017 ACC Outdoor Championships

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Virginia Tech track and field teams travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday through Sunday at Georgia Tech’s George C. Griffin Track & Field Facility.

The ACC Network Extra will provide a live stream coverage via WatchESPN and the ESPN app on each day of the championships. Former Olympic decathlon gold medalist Dan O’Brien will serve as the color analyst. He also will be joined by veteran ESPN play-by-play announcer Shawn Kenney. The ACC Network Extra will bring live action Friday evening from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Saturday’s live coverage will air from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., followed by Sunday’s finals from 5 p.m. until the meet’s conclusion. Admission is free to the 2017 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The No. 26-ranked men’s team is aiming for yet another ACC crown. The squad most recently took home its sixth ACC title at the 2017 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships held on the University of Notre Dame’s campus in February. Last season, the Tech men demolished the competition at the outdoor championships in Tallahassee, Florida, en route to the team’s third ACC outdoor title. It was almost a perfect performance, as the Hokies won four gold medals and six silver medals, scoring 129 points and winning in a landslide (36 points).

This season, the Hokie men have five ranked in the top 20 in the nation in their respective events: 800 meters (sixth and eighth), 400 hurdles (tied for 19th) and pole vault (tied for 2nd and tied for 16th). On the women’s side, the team received its highest ranking of the season at No. 15 on April 3 and have four ranked in the top 20 in the nation in their respective events: 800 meters (fourth and 11th), 1,500 meters (seventh) and hammer throw (tied for ninth and 20th).

Additionally, the Hokies have set a total of 10 new program records this season: pole vault (Torben Laidig), 400 hurdles (Greg Chiles), 800 meters (Drew Piazza), 200 meters (Courtney Blanden), 1,500 meters (Hanna Green), mile (Green), men’s 4x400-meter relay (Chiles, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Baker and Michael Davenport), men’s 4x800-meter relay (Neil Gourley, Vincent Ciattei, Piazza and Patrick Joseph), men’s 4xmile relay (Peter Seufer, Daniel Jaskowak, Ashkan Mohammadi and Diego Zarate) and the women’s 4x800-meter relay (Catherine Stone, Sarah Edwards, Green and Shannon Morton).

Tech will compete against 14 teams’ on both the men’s and women’s side. Individual first- through third-place finishes will earn first-team All-ACC honors, while fourth through sixth collect second team recognition. In the relay events, first place will be named first-team All-ACC, with second and third earning second team honors.

The field events will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The running events will then start at 6 p.m. Friday, 5:45 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. The multi-events will take place on Friday at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. The 2017 Outdoor Track & Field Championships will conclude Sunday night with an awards ceremony.

Sprints/Hurdles: Chiles leads the men’s hurdlers with a school record 50.83-finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the War Eagle Invitational. He also ran the 200-meter sprint at the Tennessee Relays for the first time in his career, clocking in at 21.26. Chiles’ school-record mark in the 400 hurdles ranks fourth in the conference, while his 200-meter time is tied for seventh overall. Davenport, the reigning ACC Indoor Track Freshman of the Year, made his outdoor debut in the 200 at the Weems Baskin Invitational, finishing with a time of 20.96 seconds. Of note, Davenport has boasted the fastest 200-meter time in the ACC since March 24. He also holds the fifth-best time in the 100-meter event with his 10.47-finish set at the War Eagle Invitational. Darius Watkins and Thomas also hold a spot on the ACC’s top-10 performance list in their respective events.

On the women’s side, Blanden enjoyed the best weekend of her career at the War Eagle Invitational. She broke the school record in the 200-meter run while crossing the finish line in 23.01 seconds for the win. Her 200-meter time ranks as the third best in the ACC. She also holds the 11th-fastest time in the 400 meters, winning the event in 53.48 seconds at that same meet. In addition, Arlicia Bush owns the sixth-best time in the 400, finishing in 53.29 seconds at the Weems Baskin Invitational to start the season. Nora McKiver also leads the women’s hurdlers with her 59.10-finish at the Texas Relays – the fifth-fastest time in the conference.

Distance: Tech shined at the Virginia Challenge, collecting 19 personal bests and a program record in the men’s 800-meter run. Piazza headlined the Hokies’ efforts, earning a third-place finish in the event with a school-record time of 1:46.02. Joseph was not far behind him, as he crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 46.47 seconds for fourth place overall. The Hokie duo currently sit at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the ACC’s top-10 performance list in the 800 meters. Gourley marks Tech’s fastest time in the 1,500 meters this season, clocking in at 3:42.82 at the Virginia Challenge – good enough for the fourth-fastest time in the league. Seufer also notched a team- and career-best time of 13:53.92 in the 5,000-meter race at the Virginia Challenge. His 5,000-meter mark ranks fourth in the league this season.

On the women’s side, Green collected a season-best time of 2:02.17 at the Virginia Challenge – the fastest time in the ACC this season. Rachel Pocratsky also owns the third-best time in the event in the conference, running the event in 2:03.87 at the Virginia Challenge. Laurie Barton checks in at No. 5 on the top-10 performance list, crossing the finish line in 2:05.77 at the Virginia Grand Prix. Additionally, Green ran the mile outdoors for the first time in her career, placing second in the Olympic Development mile run at the Penn Relays with a school-record time of 4:32.50. When converted to 1,500 meters, her time is listed at 4:12.31 - also a new program record as well as the fastest time in the league.

Jumps/Multis: Mackenzie Muldoon represents the Hokies in the men’s decathlon. Muldoon participated in the decathlon at the Tennessee Relays, recording personal bests in both the pole vault and 1,500-meter run. Will Kendall will round out the event group on the men’s side with the high jump event. Kendall jumped a lifetime-best height of 2.02 meters (6 ft., 7.5 in.) at the War Eagle Invitational, tying for 10th overall on the ACC’s top-10 performance list this season.

On the women’s side, Eszter Bajnok notched a career best in the long jump at the Virginia Grand Prix earlier this month, jumping a total of 5.98 meters (19 ft., 7.5 in.).

Pole vault: Laidig reset the men’s program record in the event with a top mark of 5.70 meters (18 ft., 8.25 in.) at the Texas Relays to start the season. He has showed the top mark in the league since March 29 and is tied for the second-best jump in the nation. Of note, the 5.70-meter clearance broke the previous ACC all-time record in the event. Additionally, Deakin Volz boasts the second-best vault on the team and the third-best jump in the league with a 5.41-meter height (17 ft., 9 in.) set at the Duke Invitational. Brad Johnson jumped a total of 5.31 meters (17 ft., 5 in.) at that same meet, ranking fourth on the ACC’s top-10 performance list this season.

Erica Hjerpe leads the group of Tech’s women’s pole vaulters with her 4.10-meter clearance (13 ft., 5.25 in.) at the Tennessee Relays, tying for the fifth-best jump in the conference. Olivia Privitera also finished the regular season with a career-best height of 4.08 meters (13 ft., 4.5 in.) at the Hokie Twilight, ranking seventh overall in the league.

Throws: The Tech women are well represented in the hammer throw event, with three underclassmen ranking inside the ACC’s top-10 performance list this season. Emma Thor threw a 64.69-meter distance (212 ft., 3 in.) at the Florida Relays and sits in second on the list, while Pavla Kuklova ranks third with a 62.61-meter throw (205 ft., 5 in.) set at the Weems Baskin Invitational. Kajsa Wennberg comes in ninth on the league’s list, throwing 57.93 meters (190 ft., 1 in.) at the Virginia Challenge. Irena Sediva and Eva Vivod also will compete in the women’s javelin throw for the first time this season.

On the men’s side, Marek Barta and Collin McKenny set to compete in the men’s discus event. Barta threw for the first time this season at the Virginia Grand Prix, throwing a distance of 56.94 meters (186 ft., 10 in.). He currently boasts the fifth-best throw in the conference. Additionally, McKenny shows a career-best throw of 49.23 meters (161 ft., 6 in.) set at the Virginia Challenge.

Following the 2017 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Hokies will have one week off from competition prior to the NCAA East Regional held on the University of Kentucky’s campus in Lexington, Kentucky from May 25-27.

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

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

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