Rachel Pocratsky and Eszter Bajnok won two gold medals each, and Emma Thor, Vincent Ciattei, Peter Seufer and Marek Barta won one apiece, as the Virginia Tech track and field teams each scored more than 100 points at the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships held this past Thursday through Saturday at Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables, Florida. The Tech women’s team came in second in the team race with 111 points, finishing just six points behind winner Miami, while the Tech men’s team came in third with 105.5 points. Both teams finished ahead of rival Virginia at the event, and that enabled the school to take home the Commonwealth Clash, an all-sports competition between the two rivals sponsored by Virginia529, by a score of 12.5-8.5. Pocratsky dominated in her events, winning the 1,500-meter run in a time of 4 minutes, 10.03 seconds and later winning the 800 with a time of 2:03.36. Bajnok set the school record in both the long jump and the triple jump, winning the long jump with a leap of 6.17 meters (20 feet, 3 inches) and the triple jump with a top jump of 13.39 meters (43 feet, 11.25 inches). Ciattei (1,500) and Seufer (10,000) continued Tech’s dominance in distance running, and both Thor (hammer throw) and Barta (discus) carried the throws group. In the pole vault, Lisa Gunnarsson and Torben Laidig each won silver medals in the women’s and men’s events, respectively, and Pavla Kuklova earned a silver in the women’s hammer throw. In all, 15 different Hokies earned first-team All-ACC honors and another 13 earned second-team All-ACC honors. Select individuals now get ready for the NCAA East Preliminaries, which will take place May 24-26 in Tampa, Florida.
Rachel Pocratsky, Eszter Bajnok, Emma Thor, Vincent Ciattei, Peter Seufer, Marek Barta
Women's and men's track and field gold medalists
These six student-athletes all won gold medals at the 2018 ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Coral Gables, Florida over the weekend, with Pocratsky and Bajnok winning two. Pocratsky set the school record in the 1,500 and ran the top time in the nation this year, while also recording a personal best in winning the 800. Bajnok set school records in both the triple and long jumps, earning her first two ACC medals. In addition to winning a gold medal in the 1,500, Ciattei claimed a bronze medal in the 800, while Seufer won a gold medal in the 10,000 for the second straight year. Both Thor and Barta won the first ACC gold medals of their careers.
Virginia Tech distance runner Rachel Pocratsky has established herself as one of the premier runners in program history, owning five school records. The junior from Gaithersburg, Maryland answered the following questions so fans could get to know her as more than just a talented student-athlete.
Q: What would be your dream vacation?
RP: Probably Australia. I love the beach. I’ve always loved it, and I’m not the person who is going to be on the beach tanning all day. I’m the one who’s in the water for the majority of the time. I’ve just always like it, and Australia is beautiful. There is so much there. I would love that. I’d love to go scuba diving and see the coral reefs and all that, but also the area and all the different animals. It’s really cool.
Q: What’s your favorite place to eat?
RP: I love food. Gordon Biersch has this really good steak with mushrooms on top and caramelized onions. They have really good sides, too.
Q: What is your favorite city that you've visited?
RP: Definitely San Francisco. I thought it was neat. The day we went, they had a huge farmer’s market. It was massive that had tents outside and inside and had all sorts of food. There were all these different fruits that I hadn’t seen before. There was fresh everything, and it was so cool. Also, we went to Ghirardelli and Alcatraz, and that was cool, and I like how it’s on the water, too.
Q: If you could play another sport, what would it be?
RP: Probably gymnastics. It’s insane what they’re able to do. I know people obsess over it only during the Olympics for the most part, but if I could do the kind of flips and things that they during on any day I wanted to just because I was excited or something, that would be pretty cool.
Q: Why did you choose Virginia Tech?
RP: This place is so welcoming, and I saw a lot of opportunity here. When you go to Virginia Tech, pretty much anywhere we go for a track meet, there is always someone saying, ‘Go Hokies!’ There is always a connection somewhere it seems like, and that’s such a huge resource that I knew I’d be able to use throughout the rest of my life.
Q: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
RP: Probably California. I’ve heard a lot about San Diego, but I don’t know that I’d want to live in the city necessarily. If there were some place like San Francisco that was maybe a little warmer, that would be ideal. I’ve heard Santa Barbara is beautiful. I guess I like the West Coast.
Q: What type of music are you listening to these days?
RP: Maybe Taylor Swift. Her past CD, when it came out, I played it on repeat for five days straight. It was during finals this past semester, and it was what was keeping me going. She’s also just a really cool person it sounds like. I feel like everyone has a side that you don’t get to see … and if I were her for a day, I don’t know if I’d want to be around all that paparazzi, I kind of just want to see what it was like be her and be able to sing that well and come up with songs like that. I’ve basically been following her since her first album.
Q: What is the talent you’d most like to have?
RP: Probably being able to do a back handspring double back flip kind of thing. In soccer, if we would score, it’s became a tradition to do a cartwheel, but that was about as far as I could do. When you’re really excited, you want to be able to do something to express that, so being able to do something like that would be cool.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a Virginia Tech athlete?
RP: Getting to represent the school, but also knowing that I have this huge community supporting me. There are so many resources here that I don’t think a lot of place have that I’m able to use to help me – all the trainers, academic advisers that make sure I’m on top of everything while still performing well, and still have a team that cares about me and is a family. I knew pretty much coming in that I was going to have a group of friends that I would be able to relate to from the start, which was really cool because I hadn’t really had that before. A group of people that had gone through all the same kinds of things as me, like the pain of running a 5K or something like and also have the same kinds of goals academically and will be there for me when I need something. It’s kind of cool. There is just a huge community here at Tech, which is what I was looking for.
The Virginia Tech’s lacrosse program’s first trip to the NCAA Championship was a success, as the Hokies knocked off Georgetown 13-10 in the first round before falling to No. 2 seed North Carolina 17-8, with both games being played over the weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hokies ended their record-breaking season with 14 wins, finishing 14-7 overall. Against the Hoyas, Meagh Graham registered 10 saves, and both Paige Petty and Tristan McGinley each scored four goals. Tech trailed 2-0 early in the game, but the Hokies scored five straight goals – three by Petty – and never trailed again. Against the Tar Heels, Tech fell behind 5-0 and never recovered. A Petty goal cut the North Carolina lead to 10-6 with 19:14 remaining, but the Tar Heels answered with four straight to put the game away, ending the Hokies’ season. Tech’s senior class of Emma Harden, Carly Primo, Kristen Kohles, Brittney VanVeldhuisen, Kelly Glatthorn, Marissa Davey, Graham and McGinley were a part of 36 wins, making this group the winningest class in school history.
Making its first NCAA appearance as a program, the Virginia Tech women’s golf team put itself in position to advance to the NCAA Championships, but came up short on the final day at the Austin Regional played early last week in Austin, Texas. Tech entered the final round in a tie for fourth place – the top six teams advance – and wound up 10th out of 18 teams. Elizabeth Bose led the Hokies in the final round, shooting a 3-under-par 69, and she finished in a tie for 24th place overall at 3-over-par for the regional, serving as Tech’s top finisher. Amanda Hollandsworth finished in 34tI place at 5-over-par. The event concluded the season for the third-year program, though the Hokies enter the offseason with lots of optimism, as the entire roster is slated to return for the 2018-19 campaign.
Making its 11th NCAA Championship appearance in the past 12 years, the Virginia Tech men’s tennis team saw its season end abruptly, as the No. 35 Hokies fell 4-0 to No. 26 Kentucky in an opening-round match played Friday in Columbus, Ohio. With the loss, Tech finished its season with a 17-8 record. The Hokies dropped two of the three doubles matches against Kentucky to lose the doubles point and fall behind 1-0. Mitch Harper, Alexandre Ribeiro and Carlo Donato each won the first set in their respective singles matches, but the Wildcats managed to pick up the requisite wins in the other three matches to seal the win and advance. The Hokies head into the offseason optimistic about their chances for the 2018-19 season, as only one senior departs and the entire starting lineup returns – led by Harper, who earned first-team All-ACC honors this past season. Harper will play in next week’s NCAA Men’s Singles Championship after earning an at-large bid to the field, and the doubles tandem of Ribeiro and Henrik Korsgaard will be playing in the NCAA Men’s Doubles Championship. Both events take place May 23-28 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
After enduring an up-and-down season, the Virginia Tech softball team ended its season on a positive note, upsetting Duke in the first round of the ACC Softball Championship before falling to Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the event held over the weekend at Mewborn Field in Atlanta. With the loss, the Hokies finished the campaign with a 23-30 record. Against the Blue Devils, Tech got a home run from Olivia Lattin and an outstanding pitching performance from Carrie Eberle, who went the distance, striking out seven and giving up just four hits in the Hokies’ 4-0 win. Tech nearly pulled the upset over the Panthers in the next round, as it led 4-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. But Pittsburgh scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to win 6-5. The Hokies return seven starters from this year’s team heading into the offseason, including Eberle, a second-team All-ACC selection. The Hokies, whose 11 newcomers tied for the most in the ACC this season, also will return two freshmen pitchers in Keely Rochard and Jordan Dail.
Virginia Tech held its spring commencement ceremony this past Friday, and more than 80 Virginia Tech student-athletes received their diplomas, with several receiving a second undergraduate degree and several earning master’s degrees in their various fields of study. The graduating contingent included nine football players – James Clark, Deon Newsome, Greg Stroman, Ricky Walker, Jack Click, Travon McMillian, Billy Ray Mitchell, D.J. Reid and Trey Skeens. Walker, a rising redshirt senior (on the field) from Hampton, Virginia who returns this fall as the leader of the Hokies’ defense, picked up two degrees, one in sociology and one in criminology. Also, seven men’s track and field athletes and seven women’s swimmers/divers graduated, along with six volleyball players and six lacrosse student-athletes. The lacrosse players and men’s tennis standout George Cartledge missed the commencement ceremony because of their participation in NCAA Championships events Friday, as Tech’s lacrosse team played against Georgetown in Raleigh, North Carolina and the men’s tennis squad took on Kentucky in Columbus, Ohio. Graduates from both teams, along with those on the Tech men’s and women’s track and field teams, were honored at a special ceremony on Monday afternoon at Lane Stadium. For more on student-athletes and graduation, please click here.