The Virginia Tech men’s and women’s track and field teams made history over the weekend, as both teams claimed the team titles at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships held Friday through Sunday at Georgia Tech’s Griffin Track and Field Facility.
For the first time since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 academic year, both Tech squads won the team title at the same league meet. The Tech women finished with 124.5 points, beating Florida State by six points and claiming the program’s first women’s title since 2008. The Tech men finished with 120 points and beat rival Virginia by a single point to sweep the league titles this year.
“It’s so hard to win, but winning both is huge,” said Dave Cianelli, Tech’s director of track and field and cross country. “I knew we were in contention on both sides, but being in contention and winning is two different things. The fact that both teams came through is just incredible. Today’s performance probably ranks as the best performance overall because it includes both the men and the women. In the past, it was either one or the other. To have both do it, it’s really special.”
Both programs now have combined to win 13 ACC team titles in track and field and cross country.
“I told the men yesterday that they were not out of it [the team scoring],” Cianelli said afterwards. “They had to go out and fight. Going into today, we were so far behind. Some people thought it was over, but these guys knew that they had a shot. They had to perform, and they did.
“The women knew that it was going to be very close as well, and we had to come through on the relay. That was our first championship for the women in nine years. It actually happened right here on this track nine years ago. It has been special to build the women’s program back up. It has been a three-year process to get them in a position to win this title.”
The races for the team crown came down to the final two events. The Hokies trailed Florida State going into the women’s 4×400-meter relay, but the Hokies’ team of Courtney Blanden, Ama-Selina Tchume, Nora McKiver and Arlicia Bush came in second with a season-best time of 3:32.57, while the Seminoles came in ninth, thus sealing the title for the Tech women. The Tech men also trailed going into the 4×400 relay, but the Hokies’ quartet of Greg Chiles, Brandon Thomas, Drew Piazza and Michael Davenport came in third with a school-record time of 3:06.40 and finished three spots ahead of Virginia to clinch the title.
“You’re hoping things are going to fall your way on the final day, especially going from event to event, and they did,” Cianelli said. “The fact that it came down to the relay on both the men’s and women’s side was just nerve racking, but I had confidence in these kids that they could come through.”
During Sunday’s finals, the Hokies collected a total of four individual ACC titles: Hanna Green, (800 meters and 1,500 meters), Neil Gourley (1,500 meters) and Piazza (800 meters). Of note, the Tech men and women walked away with a total of seven ACC crowns, as Peter Seufer (10,000 meters), Irena Sediva (javelin) and Sarah Edwards (3,000 steeple) all claimed gold in their respective events prior to the final day of competition.
Green, a senior from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, captured gold medals in both the 800- and 1,500-meter events, completing her four-year career with a total of six ACC individual championships. She defended her outdoor title in the 800, finishing with a season-best time of 2:01.28 for a new championship meet record. The victory marked Green’s fifth ACC title in the event, as she won three indoor titles and two outdoor titles. She also won the 1,500-meter race Sunday with a time of 4:15.08, collecting her first ever ACC crown in the event.
Gourley, a senior from Glasgow, Scotland, placed first in the 1,500-meter race with a time of 3:46.05 to collect his first ACC individual title. He most recently won a gold medal as a member of the distance medley relay team at this year’s indoor championships. Of note, Gourley was able to share the moment with his teammates, as Vincent Ciattei and Diego Zarate finished second (3:46.26) and third (3:46.95), respectively, in the event to sweep the 1,500-meter podium on the men’s side.
Following the 2017 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Hokies will have one week off from competition prior to the NCAA East Regional held on the University of Kentucky’s campus in Lexington, Kentucky from May 25-27.
— Courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics