Track & Field and Cross Country Program Ranked Among Nation's Best
NEW ORLEANS – Virginia’s men’s track and field and cross country program finished ninth in the final standings of the second annual NCAA Division I John McDonnell Program of the Year Award, as announced today by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Oregon was the recipient of the award for the second straight year, as the Ducks finished second at the NCAA cross country and indoor national championships, before claiming third place at the outdoor meet for 7.5 total points in the standings. Arizona State finished runner-up in the standings with 30 points and Northern Arizona State was third with 42.5 points. The Cavaliers finished ninth overall with 61.5 total points, improving upon an 11th-place finish last year.
Virginia and Florida State were the only two ACC programs in the top-17 of the final award standings. The Seminoles finished fourth with 51 points.
To be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for the NCAA Championships throughout all three seasons – cross country, indoor and outdoor. Scoring is based on the team’s finish at each NCAA Division I Championship (i.e. 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 points, 31st = 31 points) with the lowest total score for all three championships combined determining the award recipient.
Virginia’s men were one of 17 programs in the nation to score in all three championships. The Cavaliers were also one of only four programs to finish in the top-25 at all three championships, claiming 15th at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, before finishing tied for 20th at the indoor national meet and tied for 23rd at the outdoor NCAA Championships. Virginia concluded the year with its first NCAA Individual Champion since 1989, five All-Americans, six ACC Champions and 22 All-ACC performances.
Junior All-American Emil Heineking led the Cavaliers throughout the cross country season, winning his first ACC individual championship, while redshirt sophomore Ryan Collins finished runner-up at the conference meet.
Collins then claimed his second-straight ACC title indoors in the 5,000m before becoming the program’s first All-American in the event, finishing 11th at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The year also saw Robby Andrews become one of the most accomplished freshmen in program history. Andrews capped off an undefeated indoor season in the 800m by winning the ACC and NCAA Championships in the event, en route to ACC Freshman of the Year honors. He also captured the ACC title in the DMR with sophomore All-American Sintayehu Taye, sophomore Kevin Anding and senior Alex Bowman.
Outdoors, Andrews teamed with Bowman, sophomore All-American Lance Roller and junior Steve Finley to earn the program its first Championships of America relay title at the Penn Relays since 1943 – a 67-year drought that marked the second-longest period of time between championship titles in meet history.
Andrews also finished runner-up to ACC Champion Lance Roller at the conference meet and second to Oregon Olympian Andrew Wheating at the NCAA Championships. Andrews and Roller – who finished sixth at NCAAs – join former NCAA Champion Paul Ereng as Virginia’s only outdoor 800m All-Americans.
Taye also claimed an ACC Championship for Virginia during the outdoor season – winning the 1500m, while Finley finished runner-up at ACCs in the steeplechase before garnering his first All-America honor with an 11th-place finish at NCAAs.
The John McDonnell Program of the Year Award is named after USTFCCCA Hall of Famer and former Arkansas head coach John McDonnell. McDonnell’s Arkansas teams won a combined 40 National Championships and finished in the top ten in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field in 24 of his 36 seasons in Fayetteville. Five of his teams won the NCAA Triple Crown.