Four Hokies win titles on final day of ACC Outdoor Championships, clinch Commonwealth Clash

  • ACC Outdoor Championships

Results | VT All-ACC

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Rachel Pocratsky won two event titles and Eszter Bajnok, Marek Barta and Vincent Ciattei earned one apiece in their respective events, leading Virginia Tech track and field to a second-place finish on the women’s side and a third-place finish on the men’s side at the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Cobb Stadium on Miami’s campus.

The women ended up with 111 points, including 40 combined from Bajnok and Pocratsky, and the men finished with 105.5. Miami’s women won with 117 points and Florida State (116) and Syracuse (108) placed first and second in the team standings on the men’s side.

“We knew going into this meet that we would have to have a close-to-perfect meet to pull it off,” director of track and field and cross country Dave Cianelli said. “We had a great meet, but not a perfect meet – and that was the difference.

“The kids competed tremendously with unbelievable effort. But at the same time, I don’t want them to be satisfied with a top-three finish because this program is used to winning titles. And I want them to continue to strive and do that and not be satisfied with a second-place finish or third-place finish. But don’t get me wrong, in our conference with 15 strong teams, it’s good.

“There were so many great performances up and down the line, we really came out and competed. That’s what we needed to do and that’s what we are about. I told them that after the meet, we competed but we just came up a little short. Again, I’m super proud of them, especially for the seniors who have meant so much to this program.”

DISTANCE
Pocratsky led the way for the distance group, winning the middle-distance events. In the 1,500 meters, the junior ran the fastest time in the country and broke the school record with a time of 4 minutes, 10.03 seconds. A few hours later, she won the 800 in a season-best time of 2:03.36. Laurie Barton took fourth in 2:05.34 in the 800 and Katie Kennedy placed fifth in the 1,500 with a season-best time of 4:20.65.

The men saw success in the middle-distance events, too, as Ciattei won the third gold medal of his career, placing first in the 1,500 with a time of 3:46.37 and Diego Zarate was right behind in second with a time of 3:46.52. Ciattei went on to earn bronze in the 800, while freshman Bashir Mosavel-Lo took fourth in a personal-best time of 1:48.5. Sophomore Owen Buck took eighth with a time of 1:50.49.

The 5,000 meters saw Peter Seufer earn a fifth-place finish, two days after winning the 10,000 meters, in a time of 14:04.62. Lauren Berman (16:24.58) placed seventh and Sara Freix (16:26.15) finished eighth in the 5,000.

“I am extremely proud of our distance crew for their efforts this weekend,” distance coach Ben Thomas mentioned. “You score 50 points on the guy’s side after losing three national champions and All-Americans after the indoor season is just a tremendous, tremendous effort.

“And for the women to score 43 points against the competition they face in the ACC is also an outstanding achievement. Rachel Pocratsky is the MVP of the meet in my book, setting a meet record and then coming back in an hour and 20 minutes later, when the 800 is really special, is a special effort. We’ve now had to enter two years in a row where we had that happen with Hanna Green’s double last year and now Rachel Pocratsky’s. Really, really outstanding stuff and I’m super proud of all the girls.

“I’m also really happy with Bashir’s efforts in the 800 to get fourth as a true freshman, we’ve never had a true freshman score higher than that in the middle distances. I am also really proud of Fitsum Seyoum’s effort in the steeplechase to finish third and have a 10-second PR for a guy that was seventh last year at 9:11 was really outstanding. So, I’m excited to take this group to regionals and see what we can do next.”

JUMPS
Bajnok, who won the long jump on Friday, kept her momentum going in the jumps, taking home the triple jump with a school-record mark of 13.39 meters (43 feet, 11.25 inches). It marked the sophomore’s third gold medal this year. Freshman Stefanie Aeschlimann placed sixth with a jump of 12.70 meters (41 feet, 8 inches), earning second-team All-ACC honors for the second time of her career.

“It’s hard to put into words how proud of am of these girls,” jumps coach Paul Zalewski shared. “Eszter’s performance was simply incredible. Just like the long jump, she hit the winning jump early and never looked back. Another school record and a big PR at 13.39 meters (43 feet, 11.25 inches) – I’m speechless. So proud of her and I cannot wait to see what she can do the rest of this season.

“Stefanie did a great job staying competitive and doing whatever she needed to do to advance. She went from 10th to fifth on her last prelim jump and gave herself some life and kept us in the hunt. I was happy to see her fight through it.

“All in all, these girls showed up huge for us this weekend.”

THROWS
Barta won a gold medal at ACCs for the first time since his arrival to Blacksburg. The senior tossed a mark of 59.67 meters (195 feet, 9 inches) on his second throw. The women’s discus saw Lindsay Herra place sixth with a lifetime-best throw of 50.96 meters (167 feet, 2 inches). Matthew Reinhart placed seventh in the javelin to start in the morning, throwing a personal-best mark of 63.63 meters (208 feet, 9 inches).

“Another incredible day for the throwers,” throws coach Andrew Dubs stated. “Starting off this morning with Matt Reinhart in the javelin, with throwing a huge lifetime best by almost two meters. We had talked about coming in that it was a wide-open event and anybody had an opportunity to win. The entire field all stepped up and had some big performances. For Matt to enter ranked eighth but step up with his big PR to finish seventh was just fantastic.

“Discus was the most interesting and strange circumstance I’ve ever been a part of. With that said, I have to take my hat off to the ACC for how the situation was handled and the decisions that were made for the betterment and safety of our student-athletes.

“To the competition, again I want to take my hat off to our three throwers for an absolutely outstanding performance. Each of them finished higher than they were ranked coming in. In his final meet as a senior and after battling a bad back injury all season, I was really really happy for Collin McKenny to go out the way that he did.

“Marek Barta, what can I say about Marek Barta other than that I am just really proud of his effort today. Facing very difficult circumstances, he stayed focused and did what he had to do to come away as an ACC champion. In the final meet of his Virginia Tech career, I wanted nothing more than for him to go out a champion and that’s exactly what he did.

“And Lindsay Herra, just couldn’t be happier for an individual. A graduate transfer in her final season, entering ranked eighth, she put together a huge performance for our team. After a nearly three-hour delay and the team title on the line, for her to throw a new PR and finish sixth was huge for our team heading into the relay to give us a chance. Watching her growth over the last four years, I was insurmountably proud of her today.

“Just a fantastic weekend by the entire throws group, to have everyone either PR, finish higher than they were seeded, and then two ACC champions, simply remarkable by this group.”

SPRINTS
In both of their final meets at ACCs, Greg Chiles and Austin Kolko rose to the occasion in the 400-meter hurdles. Chiles earned silver with a time of 50.56 and Kolko finished seventh in a time of 53.33.

Lawrence Harris placed fifth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.45, following the men’s 4x100-meter relay team posting a season-best time of 39.87 to earn bronze. The relay was made up of Harris, Joseph Tay, Samuel Denmark and Michael Davenport – all earned second-team All-ACC honors.

The women’s 4x100 relay squad clocked a season-best, too, in a time of 44.69 to earn fourth place. The team was made up of Ama-Selina Tchume, Courtney Blanden, Caitlan Tate and Kennedy Dennis. To close the night, the 4x400-meter relay team of Blanden, Tate, Dennis and Arlicia Bush crossed the finish line in 3:36.35, a season best, to place fourth as well.

With Tech finishing higher that Virginia at the meet, the Hokies won the Commonwealth Clash in back-to-back years.

The Tech-UVA contest is presented by Virginia529, the official college savings plan of Virginia Tech Athletics and the University of Virginia Athletics. The score for the "Commonwealth Clash" finished 12.5-8.5 in favor of Virginia Tech for the 2017-18 academic year. Learn more about Virginia529 and this competition at www.thecommonwealthclash.com.

Next up for the Hokies will be the NCAA East Preliminaries from May 24-26 in Tampa, Florida, on the campus of USF.

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