4x800-meter relays, Laidig claim titles at National Relay Championships

National Relay Championships Results

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Under the lights at John McDonnell Field Saturday night, the Virginia Tech track and field teams shined on the big stage at the inaugural National Relay Championships, as the 4x800-meter relays swept the titles on each side and pole vaulter Torben Laidig took first.

The 4x800 on the women’s side ran the ninth-fastest all-time collegiate performance, the second-fastest in the NCAA this season and broke the school record with a time of 8 minutes, 25.24 seconds. The time was put together by Katie Kennedy, Laurie Barton, Sarah Edwards and Rachel Pocratsky.

A few moments later, the men’s 4x800 went to work and ran the fifth-fastest time in school history with a time of 7:25.97. The group was made up of Thierry Siewe Yanga, Diego Zarate, Bashir Mosavel-Lo and Vincent Ciattei.

The distance medley relay on the women’s side placed third with a time of 11:28.21, the third-fastest in Tech history. Lauren Berman, Nora McKiver, Shannon Quinn and Sara Freix were the quartet. The men’s side saw Jack Joyce, Brandon Thomas, Dave Whitfield and Peter Seufer place fourth with a time of 9:40.86, the second-fastest time in school history.

“We got some good work in this weekend,” distance coach Ben Thomas shared. “School record for the women’s 4x8, and men’s DMR just missed. I like how some of our younger runners are stepping up and giving themselves a chance to contribute at ACCs. Berman, Freix, Seyoum and Edwards all had personal bests.

“I think we’re coming around as a team at the right time. ACCs is going to be a real challenge and our kids are excited for it!”

The 4x100-meter relays recorded season-best times on both sides, as the men clocked a 40.13 to place seventh and the women went 44.94 to finish eighth. The men were made up of Lawrence Harris, Samuel Denmark, Joseph Tay and Michael Davenport and the women consisted of Ama-Selina Tchume, Courtney Blanden, Arlicia Bush and Kennedy Dennis.

The eighth-fastest time in program history and season best took place in the 4x400-meter relay on the women’s side made up of Blanden, Ama-Selina Tchume, Dennis and Arlicia Bush with a time of 3:36.95 to place eighth.

“The way that we did it with winning our heat and Kennedy walking down the leader to claim it in the 4x1 was great,” sprints/hurdles coach Tim Vaught commented. “The guys going 40.1 seconds was pretty impressive, too, with Law opening up well, Sam and Joseph maintaining their legs perfectly and then Mike brought it home.

“Brandon ran 47.1 in his DMR split, so he really went to the well for that one. But it was a good day at a high-level meet.”

The field events took place before the relays at night during the SEC Network’s two-hour slot, starting with the pole vault.

Both Jaelyn Demory and Olivia Privitera posted season-best marks and fourth-place finishes. Demory cleared a height of 4.95 meters (16 feet, 2.75 inches) and Privitera propelled for a mark of 3.87 meters (12 feet, 8.25 inches).

In the invitational sections for the the pole vault later on in the day, Laidig vaulted a mark of 5.55 meters (18 feet, 2.5 inches) and freshman Joel Leon Benitez tallied a mark of 5.45 meters (17 feet, 10.5 inches) to place fourth, each posted season bests. Freshman Rachel Baxter set a collegiate personal record with a mark of 4.36 meters (14 feet, 3.5 inches) to place third, which reset the third-best mark in program history.

“It was a solid performance by the vault group,” pole vault coach Bob Phillips mentioned. “I’m really proud of how they competed and feel like they are rounding into shape just in time for the championship season.”

Junior James Carver posted a personal-best mark of 14.33 meters (47 feet, 0.25 inches) in the triple jump, finishing in fourth place.

The meet was scored and the men finished fourth with 17 points and the women tied for sixth with 18 points. Arkansas won with 52 points on the men’s side and Kentucky took it home on the women’s side with 42 points.

The Hokies will compete one more time before the ACC Outdoor Championships, as they will be back in action on May 2 at the Liberty Twilight in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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