Five win gold medals on final day of ACC Indoor Championships

  • ACC Indoor Championships
2018 ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships

Final men's results

Final women's results

2018 VT All-ACC honorees

CLEMSON, S.C. – Deakin Volz, Vincent Ciattei, Neil Gourley, Rachel Pocratsky and Eszter Bajnok all won gold medals in their respective events to headline the performances of the Virginia Tech track and field teams on the final day of the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Clemson Indoor Track and Field Complex on Thursday through Saturday.

Both squads came up just short of their goal of sweeping the team crowns, as both finished in second place in the team standings. The Tech men scored 107 points, just four short of Florida State, which claimed the team title. The Tech women also came in second, scoring 81 points, which was 10 shy of the Seminoles.

“If you’re in a position where you’re disappointed with second, then I think your program is in a really good spot,” Tech director of track and field and cross country Dave Cianelli said. “Overall, I think we had a really, really good meet on both sides. The men were really close – it came right down to the end.

“I was telling the coaches that you can’t go back and start picking certain spots where you say, ‘Oh yeah, maybe we could have scored a couple more here or a couple of more there.’ Then you have other events where you exceed your expectations, so it goes both ways. Without those performances, the ones that are really surprising in a good way, we’re not close. Those were the performances that kept us in there. We had to have close to a perfect meet to come out on top, and four points is pretty close.”

The Tech men pretty much performed as expected, starting with their continued dominance in the pole vault – a Hokie won the individual indoor title in this event for the 11th time since the school joined the ACC. Volz won his first career ACC championship, leading a trio of Hokies at the top of the leaderboard.

Volz and teammate Torben Laidig finished with top vaults of 5.50 meters (18 feet, 0.5 inch), but Volz won on progressions. Laidig claimed the silver medal, while freshman Joel Leon Benitez captured his first ACC medal with a top vault of 5.10 meters (16 feet, 8.75 inches). Jaelyn Demory finished sixth with a personal-best vault of 5.00 meters (16 feet, 4.75 inches).

“The guy vaulters did a tremendous job today,” pole vault coach Bob Phillips said. “Deakin and Torben jumped season bests to take the top two spots. Joel is still not 100 percent, but was able to take a couple of jumps and make the podium, which was a fantastic effort. And Jaelyn may have been the performer of the meet for us, scoring in his heptathlon debut the first two days of competition and then jumping a triple PR today.”

The Hokies’ distance runners dominated in this meet, starting by earning both gold and silver in the men’s mile run. Ciattei won his second straight indoor mile title by toppling the competition in a time of 4 minutes, 3.08 seconds. His win gave the Hokies their seventh in this event since the school joined the ACC.

Diego Zarate held off Notre Dame’s Jacob Dumford in the final few meters to come in second in a time 4:04.18. The Hokies also received points from Daniel Jaskowak, who came in seventh with a time of 4:09.72.

Gourley then took care of business in the men’s 800, giving the Tech men their fifth win in this event since the school joined the league. He won in a personal-best time of 1:47.04 despite trailing heading into the final stretch. He passed Clemson’s John Lewis and Wake Forest’s Robert Heppenstall to win in a time that broke the facility record. Tech’s Patrick Joseph added points toward the team total as well, finishing fourth in a time of 1:47.47.

Peter Seufer notched a podium finish for the second straight day, as he won a bronze medal in the 3,000 following his bronze in the 5,000. Seufer’s time of 8:04.63 was a personal best and only a little more than two seconds behind Justyn Knight of Syracuse.

Also in the 3,000, Ciattei and Jack Joyce came in sixth and seventh, respectively. Ciattei ran a personal-best time of 8:10.91, while Joyce ran the event in a tie of 8:13.42.

“I think we scored 62 points as a distance unit at the ACC Championships, where there are so many great athletes,” distance coach Ben Thomas said. “You can’t be disappointed, but of course, we’re disappointed in not winning the title for the seniors. We had a lot of people step up, but I think the other team just earned it in this case. Florida State really had an outstanding meet. We’ll just get ready for nationals. I’m excited to have one more opportunity with my senior guys [Gourley, Joseph and Jaskowak].”

Keishaun Limehouse and Greg Chiles both scored points for the men’s team as well. Limehouse came in seventh in the 60-meter hurdles, while Chiles finished sixth in the men’s 200 with a time of 21.20 seconds.

Chiles was part of a 4x400 relay team that came in third in a school-record time of 3:09.33. The quartet of Chiles, Brandon Thomas, Joseph and Michael Davenport broke the previous time of 3:11.11 set by Chiles, Thomas, Drew Piazza and Davenport last season.

On the women’s side, Pocratsky continued Tech’s dominance in the women’s 800, as a Tech runner has now won this event each of the past five years. The junior from Maryland held off two hard-charging Clemson runners to win in a time of 2:03.17 for her first gold medal. Teammate Laurie Barton came in fourth in the 800, running the event in a personal-best time of 2:03.72.

“Rachel had an outstanding meet,” Thomas said. “She led off our DMR, and I think we’ve got the No. 1 time in the NCAA right now. … She has her choice at NCAAs of the mile, the 800 or the DMR. So we’ll see, but we’re excited about how she’s performing.”

Bajnok won a gold medal in the final event of the Championships – the women’s triple jump. The sophomore from Hungary registered a school-record jump of 12.93 meters (42 feet, 5.25 inches), besting the competition by nearly four inches. Teammate Stefanie Aeschlimann came in sixth with a personal-best jump of 12.62 meters (41 feet, 5 inches).

“It was great to see the performance out of Eszter and Stefanie today,” jumps coach Paul Zalewski said. “Both have struggled this season, but to see them perform and compete like they did … I knew they had it in them.”

Sarah Edwards came up big in the women’s 3,000, winning a silver medal in a time of 9:18.99. She just missed her second career ACC gold medal, finishing only 32-hundredths of a second behind winner Elly Henes of NC State.

Katie Kennedy finished fourth in the women’s mile in a time of 4:44.77. She found herself in traffic toward the latter stages of the race, which allowed Notre Dame’s Jessica Harris to pull away. Harris won with a time of 4:38.58.

Caitlan Tate and Courtney Blanden also scored points for the women’s team. Tate came in eighth in the 60-meter dash in a time of 7.40 seconds, while Blanden finished seventh in the women’s 200 in a time of 23.84 seconds.

Like their male counterparts, the women’s 4x400 relay team broke the school record. The group of Kennedy Dennis, Blanden, Tate and Arlicia Bush came in fourth with a school-record time of 3:36.83. They broke the previous time of 3:37.42 set by Blanden, Ama-Selina Tchume, Hanna Green and Bush set last year.

Select members of both teams now gear up for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held March 9-10 in College Station, Texas.


M 800

Neil Gourley (1:47.04)

W 800

Laurie Barton (2:03.72)

M 3,000

Vincent Ciattei (8:10.91)

Peter Seufer (8:04.63)

W 3,000

Lauren Berman (9:36.30)

Sarah Edwards (9:18.99)

W Triple Jump

Stefanie Aeschilmann (12.62 meters; 41 feet, 5 inches)

Eszter Bajnok (12.93 meters; 42 feet, 5 inches)

M Pole Vault

Jaelyn Demory (5.00 meters; 16 feet, 4.75 inches)

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