Cavaliers Host Inaugural Virginia-Missouri Jefferson Dual
This weekend’s track and field Virginia-Missouri Jefferson Dual marks a return from the contemporary style of marathon, fan-isolated, track and field meets of late to the traditional, thrilling, two-team competition of the dual meet. With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, the Virginia Cavaliers will host the University of Missouri Tigers in the inaugural Virginia-Missouri Jefferson Dual.
Thomas Jefferson, UVA, and…UM?
While every Wahoo and Cavalier fan knows Jefferson was the philosophical and architectural father of the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s connection to the University of Missouri is left a mystery in Hoo-ville. While the third president’s vision of a higher-education institution that broke collegiate conventions of education and architecture was manifested by the founding of the University of Virginia in 1819, UM was also founded on Jeffersonian ideals and continues to maintain them to this day.
Jefferson’s ties to the University of Missouri are slightly more ambiguous than his roots at UVa; however, his contribution to UM made the University not only more philosophically significant, but also set UM apart from other public universities in the nation. Jefferson’s leadership in funding expeditions through the Louisiana territories guided Missouri to statehood in 1821. In 1883, Jefferson’s family presented UM with a gift that was placed at his grave at his Monticello home. This headstone is still found on the Columbia campus of UM beside a statue of Thomas Jefferson, reminding students of his ideals and vision.
Jefferson’s ideas continue to resonate at UM through special awards and models that UM students try to live up to throughout their course of study.
The return of the Dual Meet: Virginia vs. Missouri
The dual meet, though the focal point of collegiate track for the better part of a century, was largely discontinued in the 1970s and 1980s in favor of a larger setting in which qualifying for national meets was emphasized above team-to-team competition. Recently, there have been efforts to revive the spirit of the dual meet and the fan-centric nature of the competition.
“We get so used to participating in these big invitationals that it is a breath of fresh air to get back to the roots of track and field – the dual meet,” said Virginia head coach Randy Bungard. “Our sport is difficult for the fans to follow and the meets are weekend marathons, usually spanning two days for 10-12 hours each day. A good head-to-head competition with a winner and a loser is something that our fans can really get in to.”
The Cavaliers have started the Outdoor season on the right foot, having come off the Hurricane Challenge last weekend with five titles, fifteen top-8 finishes, and a new school record for the women’s discus throw (Billie-Jo Grant, 56.07m). The Hoos look to strengthen the season they started at the end of March at the 49er Classic with a win this weekend at the Virginia-Missouri Jefferson Dual.
Not only are UVa and UM connected through Thomas Jefferson, but also through Missouri head coach Rick McGuire. A graduate of St. Lawrence University and Alfred University, McGuire pursued his Ph.D. in sport psychology at UVa, which he earned in 1983. While at Virginia, he served as an assistant coach to the track and field program. During his time as a Cavalier coach, the teams won the AIAW National Indoor Championship and two NCAA Cross Country Championships.
“Rick has always had a special place in his heart for UVa,” Bungard said. “He is all that is right with the sport of track and field. His values, his morals, and the way that he conducts his program are models of how to do it right.”
The meet will commence at 3:30 pm on Friday and resume at 11 am on Saturday. “I can’t wait,” said Bungard, and neither can the fans.
In addition to the dual meet, a few of Virginia’s top distance runners will be traveling across the country to compete at the 34th annual Stanford Invitational. The meet is comprised of a mixture of regional and national programs, such as national powers Arkansas and Tennessee, among others. The invitational is scheduled to begin Friday morning and conclude on Saturday. Flotrack.org will provide video coverage of the invitational by filming all of the races and interviewing student-athletes. Each race will be archived at http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=234, starting on Friday evening.
The women’s 10k will feature All-Americans Emily Harrison, Katie Read and Kara Scanlin, while Stephanie Garcia, the 2007 US Jr. National Champion in the steeplechase will compete in the women’s steeple. All-American Andy Biladeau will race the men’s 5000m.