The Virginia Tech men’s track and field 4x800-meter relay team made history Saturday at the Penn Relays held in Philadelphia, as the quartet of Drew Piazza, Neil Gourley, Patrick Joseph and Vincent Ciattei won the 4x800 relay in the College Men’s Championship of America Invitational division. The group set a school record in winning with a time of 7 minutes, 13.75 seconds, besting the previous school mark by 7.53 seconds. The title marked the Hokies’ first at the Penn Relays in school history. In other action at the Penn Relays, Hanna Green came in second in the Olympic Development women’s mile with a time of 4:32.50. Several Tech track and field athletes competed at the Virginia Grand Prix in Charlottesville, Virginia and the Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas as well. Both Laurie Barton (800) and Abigail Motley (5,000) notched wins at the Virginia Grand Prix, while Deakin Volz and Brad Johnson finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the pole vault at the Longhorn Invitational. The Hokies wrap up the regular season Wednesday evening at the Liberty Twilight meet and Thursday evening at the Hokie Twilight meet. The ACC Championships will be held May 14-16 in Atlanta.
Drew Piazza, Neil Gourley, Patrick Joseph, Vincent Ciattei
Men's Track and Field • 4x800-meter relay team
The four student-athletes comprise the men’s 4x800-meter relay team that set a school record in winning the event Saturday at the prestigious Penn Relays held in Philadelphia. They ran together for the first time this season, and they snapped a school record that had been in place since 2011. The quartet easily won the event by nearly seven seconds over Penn State, which finished second.
This Virginia Tech women’s track athlete is a redshirt senior from Chesapeake, Virginia who earned second-team All-America honors in the mile during the 2016 indoor season. She answered the following questions so fans could get to know her as more than just a talented student-athlete.
Q: What is your dream vacation?
SM: Anywhere tropical. I love warm weather, the beach, fresh fruit and nice places to go sightseeing.
Q: What’s your favorite place to eat?
SM: Anyone that knows me know how much I love Japanese food! I probably eat it 2-3 times a week faithfully.
Q: What is your favorite city that you've visited?
SM: This is a tricky one. I loved New York City with all the bright lights and tall buildings, but the weather … I just can't get over how cold it is. So I'd have to say my favorite city that I visited is New Orleans. I went for a week during high school for the Junior Olympics, and there was just so much to do and a lot going on! Plus, the weather is great!
Q: If you could play another sport, what would it be?
SM: Just because I always talk a lot of junk when it comes to playing basketball with friends, … I would have to go with that sport. I just get really excited when I shoot, and it's all net. So to do that in a game … I could only imagine the feeling.
Q: Why did you choose Virginia Tech?
SM: Easy, on my official visit, I knew immediately that this was where I belonged, and that Tech was going to be my home for the next four years. The team atmosphere was basically, and still is, a family. Plus, the food was amazing!
Q: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
SM: If I could live anywhere, I'd choose somewhere where the weather is always warm. So maybe somewhere like Florida. I really just hate the cold and snow.
Q: What type of music are you listening to these days?
SM: My iPhone has a bunch of rap and R&B music. A lot of different artists!
Q: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?
SM: I would love to trade places with a professional track runner like Jenny Simpson. She's one of the best 1,500-meter runners in the world … she just got third in the 2016 Rio Olympics. I would want to see and experience what her training is like and what she does the same and also differently as I do now.
Q: What is the talent you’d most like to have?
SM: A talent that I'd like to have would be to do nails. I just love, love, love getting my nails done. Everything that they do looks fun to me, like the different tools they use, putting the actual nail on, painting, etc. I'm actually thinking about going to cosmetology school to learn to do that … hair and makeup.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a Virginia Tech athlete?
SM: My favorite thing about being on the track team here is all the opportunities that come with it. We are always in season, so … each season means another chance to run faster times, break records, championship meets, and make nationals. Virginia Tech has all the proper training and support to accomplish this and so much more!
For the 24th straight year, an NFL team selected at least one Virginia Tech player in the NFL Draft, as four Hokies were chosen this weekend by various NFL teams at the 2017 NFL Draft held this past week in Philadelphia. The four Hokies selected by NFL teams represent the most Tech players chosen in an NFL Draft since 2010. Chuck Clark, Bucky Hodges and Sam Rogers all went in the sixth round, while Isaiah Ford went in the seventh round. Clark went to the Baltimore Ravens with the 186th pick, while the Minnesota Vikings selected Hodges with the 201st pick and the Los Angeles Rams took Rogers with the 206th pick. In the seventh and final round, the Dolphins chose Ford with the 237th pick. Several other Tech players signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams, including Woody Baron (Dallas Cowboys), Jon McLaughlin (Arizona Cardinals), Ken Ekanem (Denver Broncos) and Nigel Williams (Buffalo Bills).
Virginia Tech women’s tennis players Natalie Novotna and Francesca Fusinato and were named to the 2017 All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Tennis Team, as selected by the league’s coaches this past Thursday. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes. Fusinato completed her senior season with a 16-8 dual-match singles record, topping a total of seven ranked opponents, including three inside the top 50. Novotna ended her freshman campaign with a team-best 18-5 dual-match singles record. She started the spring season rotating between courts, but settled in at court No. 2 midway through the year, totaling a 9-5 singles record in ACC action. She topped a total of three ranked opponents. Tech finished the season with an 11-13 record after falling in the first round of the ACC Championships.
The seventh-seeded Virginia Tech lacrosse team came out for its opener in the ACC Championship excited and confident in the first postseason action under head coach John Sung. The Hokies jumped out to a 4-0 lead over second-seeded Syracuse and held a lead deep in the second half before ultimately falling to the tenth-ranked Orange. Tech now awaits Sunday’s NCAA announcement to see if they will be selected for the 26-team NCAA Championship field in Sung’s first season at the helm of the Hokies.