Four Hokie throwers advance to nationals

  • NCAA East Regional Preliminary

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Following inclement weather conditions, the Virginia Tech women’s track and field team qualified four throwers Thursday at the 2017 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds held at the University of Kentucky’s Outdoor Track and Field Complex.

Sophomore Pavla Kuklova and freshman Emma Thor were the first to punch their tickets to Eugene, placing fifth and eighth, respectively, in the women’s hammer throw event. Kuklova finished with a 62.25-meter mark (204 ft., 2 in.) on her first attempt, while Thor threw a distance of 59.90 meters (196 ft., 6 in.) on her third and final attempt.

The Hokie women then tacked on two more qualifying marks in the javelin, as seniors Irena Sediva and Eva Vivod finished first and sixth, respectively. Sediva, the reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champion, threw 55.80 meters (183 ft., 1 in.) on her first attempt to earn the East region’s top mark of the evening. Sediva also holds No. 1 javelin throw in the nation. Vivod finished with 51.05 meters (167 ft., 6 in.), recording the distance on her second attempt.

On the track, 11 Hokies advanced from the first round to the quarterfinals in four different events.

Junior Greg Chiles was the final qualifier in heat three of the 400-meter hurdles. With his 52.03-finish, Chiles will run in heat two of the quarterfinal round on Friday at 7:15 p.m. Junior Courtney Blanden also qualified in the women’s 400-meter dash, finishing second in her respective heat with a time of 53.86 seconds to advance to the quarterfinal round set for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

In the men’s 1,500 meter-race, three-of-four Hokies qualified for the quarterfinal round scheduled for Saturday at 6:45 p.m. Senior Neil Gourley marked the third-fastest time in his respective heat along with the third-fastest time of the day, crossing the finish line in 3 minutes, 47.46 seconds. In addition, junior Vincent Ciattei placed third in heat one with a time of 3:50.38, while sophomore Diego Zarate earned a fourth-place finish in heat two with a time of 3:50.97, securing their spots in Saturday’s quarterfinal.

Junior Katie Kennedy was the lone Hokie to compete in the women’s 1,500-meter race, placing third in her respective heat with a time of 4:22.58 to qualify for the quarterfinal round set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Furthermore, all five Hokies qualified for the 800-meter quarterfinals. Seniors Drew Piazza and Hanna Green, the reigning ACC 800-meter champions, ran the fastest times of the evening on both the men’s and women’s side. Piazza recorded a time of 1 minute, 48.79 seconds, while Green crossed the line in 2 minutes, 5.66 seconds. Senior Patrick Joseph (1:50.87), sophomore Rachel Pocratsky (2:06.94) and freshman Laurie Barton (2:07.23) also earned qualifying marks in the event, as the top three times in each heat plus the next six best times advance. The women’s 800-meter quarterfinal is set to begin on Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by the men at 6:45 p.m.

Other Hokies who participated in Thursday’s competition, but did not qualify for the next round in their respective events included Olivia Privitera (T14th, pole vault), Erica Hjerpe (29th, pole vault), Michael Davenport (28th, 100 meters), Arlicia Bush (25th, 400 meters), Jada Gundran (36th, 400 hurdles), Nora McKiver (DQ, 400 hurdles) and Ashkan Mohammadi (29th, 1,500 meters).

Junior Abigail Motley also raced in the 10,000-meter semifinal, placing 42nd overall with a time of 35:50.70.

Friday and Saturday’s field events are scheduled to start at 2 p.m., while the running events commence at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Tech men will lead us off in the pole event at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by the women’s 400-meter quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, the SEC Network will provide a live stream coverage via WatchESPN and the ESPN app during each day of competition. Friday’s coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m., while Saturday’s broadcast starts at 6 p.m. and runs until the meet’s conclusion.

Of note, the top 12 competitors in each event will advance to the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Eugene, Oregon, from June 7-10. The Hokies will have a week off from competition prior to the NCAA Championships.

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

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Pole vault

Olivia Privitera (4.10 meters)

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