Tech men finish fourth, women 14th at NCAA Indoor Championships

  • NCAA Indoor Championships

NCAA Indoor Championships Results | NCAA Records Broken | NCAA Release

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Finishing inside the top four for the first time in program history, the No. 12 Virginia Tech track and field men’s team placed fourth with 31 points in the team standings and the women finished 14th with 14 points at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships inside Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium on Saturday evening.

“What an incredible weekend,” director of track and field and cross country Dave Cianelli said. “It was just amazing what those guys did with running the mile, coming back and winning the DMR and then all three scoring in the mile. No one has ever done that. They were warriors.

“To me, getting fourth place, I’ve been waiting 17 years at Virginia Tech to bring home a NCAA trophy and we’ve been close a couple times, so to have our best-ever finish and do it with the DMR with these group of seniors just makes it that much more special.

“To be amongst that group of the powerhouses that finished ahead of us, Florida, USC and Georgia, is really a testimony to the coaches and having the student-athletes prepared and then the athletes competing at an amazing level this weekend.”

Coming into the final day of the meet, the men were in the lead with 16 points after the distance medley relay won a national title and pole vaulter Deakin Volz earned bronze on Friday. In the first track event of the day, the men’s mile saw three Hokies place in the top seven out of 10 competitors.

Vincent Ciattei, who won the mile at the ACC Indoor Championships two weeks ago, collected a silver medal by crossing the finish line in a school-record time of 3 minutes, 58.36 seconds. The time passed Michael Hammond’s record set in 2011 and was a personal best for the Maryland native, earning Ciattei first-team All-America honors.

The two redshirt seniors ran their final collegiate race in the mile and finished with first-team All-America honors. Patrick Joseph placed fourth with a time of 4:00.39 and Neil Gourley clocked a time of 4:00.64 to place seventh.

In total, Tech racked up 15 points in the men’s mile, which was the first event of the day at 5:10 p.m. ET, and took a 13-point lead heading into the rest of the night with No. 2 Georgia owning 18 points in second place. Similar to golf with sitting in the clubhouse after the 18th hole, the Hokies had to sit back and watch to see if any team could crack the 31-point plateau.

Later in the night, the Bulldogs edged out the Hokies by a point to take third place and No. 3 Florida and No. 5 USC each ran podium finishes in the 4x400-meter relays to finish first and second.

"Historic meet for us," distance coach Ben Thomas stated. "Our first national title in the DMR. Everyone we brought in the distance area earned All-America honors.

"I love my senior group, I will greatly miss seeing them compete. It has been one of the great joys of my career coaching these guys and Katie Kennedy these past four years."

On the women’s side, the No. 12 Hokies turned in eight points behind top-six finishes in the pole vault and 800 meters. The women finished 14th in the final standings with 14 points, marking their best finish indoors since 2010.

“The women did great as well,” Cianelli said. “We just didn’t have as many shots with the women to score, but amongst the women there is only one senior in Katie Kennedy. So, we have a great core of young student-athletes returning, so we can build on this.

“They had a top-15 finish in the country, I’m extremely happy with that. I think we can do even better outdoors, too.”

Rachel Pocratsky finished sixth in the 800, running around the track in a time of 2:03.93 to earn first-team All-America honors. It marks the junior’s first time being named an All-American.

The pole vault event was represented by two freshmen, competing in their first-ever NCAAs. Lisa Gunnarsson tallied a fourth-place finish with a mark of 4.41 meters (14 feet, 5.5. inches), earning her first-team All-America honors, while Rachel Baxter vaulted a height of 4.21 meters (13 feet, 9.75 inches) to claim 11th for second-team All-America honors.

On the weekend, the Hokies racked up 13 All-America honors with 11 student-athletes being named to the first team and two to the second team. Ciattei and Volz were the lone podium finishers individually, while both DMRs took a step on the podium, too.

“It was just an amazing job by all of the coaches and athletes, our entire staff and trainers keeping everybody healthy," Cianelli shared. "A lot of people had a role to play in this.”

STAT OF THE DAY

• The men posted their best point total in school history (31 points), topping the previous total of 23.5 points in 2017 at indoors. The women tallied the third-most points in indoor program history (14), with 18 points begin scored twice in 2010 and 2008.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I want to savor this and not just kind of bypass it,” Cianelli said. “And that’s what I told the kids after the meet. I told them, ‘Look, I want you to enjoy this because this is an incredible accomplishment. This is something you guys can take with you and remember for the rest of your lives of what you were able to do this weekend.’”

TWEET OF THE DAY

UP NEXT

• The indoor season for Tech has come to a close, but fans can tune in on ESPN2 Sunday at 7 p.m. ET for a re-air of the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Hokies will begin the outdoor season on March 23-34 at the Weems Baskin Invitational in Columbia, South Carolina.

MEDAL WINNERS
Neil Gourley, DMR, gold
Patrick Joseph, DMR, gold
Greg Chiles, DMR, gold
Vincent Ciattei, DMR, gold, mile, silver
Deakin Volz, pole vault, bronze
Katie Kennedy, DMR, bronze
Courtney Blanden, DMR, bronze
Laurie Barton, DMR, bronze
Sarah Edwards, DMR, bronze

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Vincent Ciattei, mile, DMR
Neil Gourley, mile, DMR
Patrick Joseph, mile, DMR
Greg Chiles, DMR
Rachel Pocratsky, 800
Deakin Volz, pole vault
Lisa Gunnarsson, pole vault
Katie Kennedy, DMR
Courtney Blanden, DMR
Laurie Barton, DMR
Sarah Edwards, DMR

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Torben Laidig, pole vault
Rachel Baxter, pole vault

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