Cavaliers to Compete Against Nation's Best at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational
Feb. 3, 2006
With just a couple weeks to go before the 2006 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships, the Virginia Cavaliers are splitting their squad this weekend, sending some off to compete at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational this weekend at The Armory in New York City, and others to the Liberty Record Bash. After a strong showing at both the Niswonger Invitational and the Liberty Open, the Cavs look to take even more titles and position themselves within the ACC rankings to prepare for the upcoming conference meet. The Collegiate Invitational at The Armory is one of the top meets in the country this weekend, featuring a number of Olympians and collegiate champions from a year ago. More than 95 colleges and universities are sending teams, and over 15 countries will be represented at the meet as well.
At the Collegiate Invitational, the men will be led by both David Sullivan and Kellen Blassingame, both ranked 3rd in the ACC in their respective events. David Sullivan, who holds the school record, won the pole vault title at Niswonger. School record holder Blassingame is ready to compete in the 400 meters, after finishing third at Niswonger. He will have some tough competition from Xavier Carter, the Collegiate Invitational record holder, as well as both Eirson Hurtault (Columbia) and Justin Byron (North Caroline A&T) who have each won championships in the event. Both Reuben Jones and Tyler Hendry, both currently ranked in the conference in the 60 meter dash, are also looking to improve their times and take home the gold this weekend. They are scheduled to compete against Olympic gold medalist Kelly Willie from LSU. ACC Champions Andrew Dumm, Ryan Foster, and Will Christian are also all scheduled to compete in the 5K, while fellow ACC Champions Jan Foerster and Soeren Lindner will both compete in the 3K.
On the women’s side, a number of Cavaliers are looking to continue their preparations for the ACC Championships as well. First year Talia Wise is ranked in the conference in two events: the 60 meter dash (6th) and the 200 meters (10th). Competing with her in both events will be Janne’a Bridgeford, while Tomika Ferguson will join the both of the in the 60 meters. Erin Crawford, a third year, is ranked 8th in the ACC, and along with Tiffany Roberts, these two will compete in the 400m. Second year Emily Harrison, who holds the 4th place in the conference for the 3000 meter race, will run the 5000 meters. First year Lauretta Dezubay, who ran with Harrison at the NCAA XC Championships in 2005, will compete in the 3K where she will race against NCAA runner-up Caroline Bierbaum. Reigning ACC Champion Billie Jo Grant, currently ranked 6th, will also compete in the shot put where she will look to beat out Olympian Laura Gerraughty. Fourth year Rachel Marks, not only ranks in the top-five all time for Virginia, but is also ranked in the conference in the high jump, will compete in that event.
The Cavaliers are also sending selected athletes to compete at the Liberty Record Bash. First years Rob Rankin (9th) and Yemi Ayeni (10th), who are ranked in the shot put in the ACC, will compete in that event along with four of Virginia’s female throwers. Amy Bilmanis, Mallory Denniston, Caitlin Kelly, and Alexa Manning are each set to compete in the weight throw, with both Kelly and Manning to compete in the shot put as well. A pair of male pole vaulters, Stephen Thompson, who took home 7th place at Niswonger, and Jeff McClurg will compete. Additionally, Robert Assibey, who is ranked ninth in the ACC in the triple jump will participate in that event and he will be joined by teammate Devin Canaday, who is listed to compete in the long jump as well. Canaday will also run the short hurdles, with Briana Smith and Keshia Ashe set to represent the women.