Garcia Wins ACC Title in Steeplechase in Record-Breaking Fashion
DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt senior All-American Stephanie Garcia claimed her second ACC title in the 3000m steeplechase Friday night to lead the Virginia track and field team on the second day of the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. Finishing with a personal-best time of 9:55.10, Garcia bettered her already school record (9:56.96 – 2011), shattered Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium record (10:02.85 – Mollie DeFrancesco, JMU, 2002) and broke the all-time ACC Championship meet record (9:56.29 – Barbara Parker, FSU, 2007). Her time also leads the NCAA this season and ranks No. 2 in the world.
“It is a huge honor to finally be back in top form at an ACC Championship,” Garcia said. “Going into the race, I had given no thought to records, I just wanted to have a great competition. I was a little nervous coming off the 1500m prelim – I had never done that double before. But I have confidence in my training and fitness, and an amazing support system of coaches and teammates, so once the gun went off I was ready to race hard.
“It’s exciting to reclaim my title and to reestablish myself as one of the top competitors in the conference.”
Garcia, the 2008 ACC Champion in the steeplechase, becomes the first Cavalier in program history to earn dual titles in the event and the third person in ACC history to do so. NC State’s Katie Sabino won the 2001 and 2002 crowns, while Florida State’s Parker was victorious in 2006 and 2007.
On the men’s side, Virginia was led by a third-place finish by senior Andrew Mearns in the 3000m steeplechase. Finishing with a personal-best time of 8:56.41, Mearns earned his first-ever All-ACC honor and ranks ninth on UVa’s all-time record board. Junior Andrew Revelle also scored for the Cavaliers in the event, finishing seventh in 9:02.58.
Sophomore Emily Vannoy led the Cavaliers in the field events, finishing sixth in the shot put with a throw of 49′ 7.75″.
Throughout today’s preliminary events, Virginia advanced 11 Cavaliers to tomorrow’s finals in six events.
Junior All-American Morgane Gay and Garcia started the day off for Virginia by automatically advancing to tomorrow’s finals of the 1500m. Garcia finished second in the first race on the track in 4:29.67, while Gay completed the race in 4:26.48 to finish third in her heat.
The men followed that up by advancing all three Cavaliers to tomorrow’s finals in the 1500m. Sophomore All-American Robby Andrews will be the top seed with his winning time of 3:46.45 from the first heat, while senior John Minen automatically advanced after finishing third in that heat with a time of 3:47.17. Sophomore Brett Johnson will join the duo in the finals, as he won the third heat in 3:58.13.
In the 110m hurdles, senior All-American Adams Abdulrazaaq qualified for his third-straight final. The 2009 ACC Champion in the event, Abdulrazaaq won his heat in 14.18 and will take the second-best time into tomorrow’s finals.
Freshman Patrick Farmer will make his first appearance in an ACC final, as he advanced in the 400m. Farmer finished with a time of 48.53 and will be the lone freshman in the race.
Virginia rounded out the preliminary events by qualifying two Cavaliers in both the 800m and the 400m hurdles.
Freshman Anthony Kostelac will take the top-seed time of 1:50.47 into the finals of the 800m, while reigning ACC Champion and All-American Lance Roller will join him in the field of eight competitors. Roller finished second in his heat with a time of 1:51.24.
In the 400m hurdles, the Cavaliers advanced two seniors, Kristina Chapman and Ayla Smith. Smith finished second in her heat in 58.59, while Chapman took third in her heat with a time of 59.61.
After seven scored events, the Cavalier women sit fourth with 28 points, while the men are ninth with 16 points. Clemson leads the women’s race with 66.5 points, Duke is second with 45 points and Florida State rounds out the top three with 36 points. Duke is atop the men’s leaderboard with 70.5 points, while Florida State is second with 51 points. Virginia Tech is currently third with 46.5 points.
Virginia will conclude the conference meet tomorrow, with field events beginning at noon. Competition on the track will open with the 4x100m relays at 4 p.m.