Gourley leads three men's distance runners into finals at NCAAs

  • NCAA Outdoor Championships
NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Day 1 results

EUGENE, Ore. – Neil Gourley, Vincent Ciattei and Drew Piazza all qualified for the finals in their respective events to headline the Virginia Tech action on the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field.

Gourley and Ciattei each qualified for Friday night’s final in the 1,500-meter race. Gourley finished fourth in his heat and fourth overall, running the race in a time of 3 minutes, 40.52 seconds.

Ciattei led for a chunk of his heat before a cluster of runners made a last dash to the finish line. He wound up fifth with a time of 3:44.88, but managed to qualify for the final, as the top five from each heat and the next two best times advanced to the finals.

Piazza won heat No. 1 of the 800-meter semifinals, finishing with a time of 1:46.75 and automatically qualifying for Friday’s final. He stayed with the pack for most of the race and then pulled away down the stretch, recording the fourth-best time among the three heats.

“To come in and get three of four guys through … you can’t be disappointed,” Tech distance coach Ben Thomas said. “Anything can happen. They ran really well. I was happy that all four tactically ran very smart races.

“I’m optimistic. This is Vince’s first outdoor NCAA, but of course, being second at the NCAA indoors [as part of the men's distance medley relay] – he handled it like he’d been here before. I think they were very smart and very composed. They’ve raced these guys before, and they know they can compete. So yeah, I’m excited for the finals.”

Two Tech athletes just missed on qualifying for the finals in their respective events, but still managed to earn second-team All-America honors. Running in the same heat as Piazza, Patrick Joseph came in third in the heat and 12th overall with a time of 1:47.56. Also, Brad Johnson finished tied for 16th in the pole vault to earn All-America recognition, as the top 16 in each event are designated All-Americans. Johnson cleared 5.15 meters (16 feet, 10.75 inches), but missed on three attempts to clear 5.30 meters.

Tech’s other competitor Wednesday, hurdler Greg Chiles, came in seventh in his heat in the 400-meter hurdles after tripping. He wound up 22nd overall.

Thursday’s action starts at 1:30 p.m. ET, but the Hokies don’t hit the track until 5 p.m. ET when Pavla Kuklova and Emma Thor compete in the hammer throw. Fans can follow along on live stats by clicking here.

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