Cavaliers Advance Most Student-Athletes to NCAAs Since 1983
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-For the first time since 1983, the Virginia track and field team have qualified 11 student-athletes for the NCAA Championships. Six Cavaliers advanced on the final day of the NCAA East Preliminaries at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday (May 26).
Senior Maureen Laffan (Toms River, N.J.) qualified in the women’s hammer, while junior Morgane Gay (Bethesda, Md.) moved on in the women’s 1,500 meters. Juniors Brett Johnson (Ocean City, N.J.) and Patrick Todd (Highland Park, Texas) advanced in the men’s 1,500. At night, freshmen Chelsea Ley (Woolwich Township, N.J.) and Kathleen Stevens (Roanoke, Va.) qualified in the women’s 5,000 meters.
With the six today, the Cavaliers have qualified 11 for the national meet in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6-9, joining seniors Vincenzo Chiariello (Staten Island, N.Y.), Marcus Robinson (Richmond, Va.), Lance Roller (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) and Catherine White (Roanoke, Va.) and junior Sean Keveren (Brentwood, Tenn.), who punched tickets earlier in the meet.
The number of student-athletes qualified, 11, is the most for Virginia since 1983, when they sent a school-record 12. The Cavaliers sent nine a year ago.
Laffan finished 11th in the women’s hammer with a throw of 58.03m (190′ 4″). The distance came on her third attempt.
“I am very happy to have the opportunity to go to nationals my last year here,” Laffan said. “With graduation passed, nationals are another great memory for me to add to my college career.”
Gay placed 12th in the women’s 1,500-meter quarterfinal in 4:20.49 and qualified based on her time. She finished second in her heat.
In the men’s 1,500m quarterfinals, Todd crossed the line seventh in his heat and overall in 3:46.96, while Johnson was 15th overall in 3:48.99. Based on time, Todd qualified, while Johnson advanced automatically with a fifth-place finish in his heat.
In the second heat of the women’s 5,000-meter semifinals, Ley and Stevens finished fourth and seventh in the heat, the faster of the two, to move on to Iowa. Ley crossed the line fourth overall in 16:15.11, while Stevens was 11th overall in 16:26.91.
The men’s 4×400 relay of senior Kevin Anding (Houston, Texas), Roller, sophomore Ozzie Bryan (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Payton Hazzard (Huntington, N.Y.) broke the school record in 3:07.11, placing 14th and narrowly missing out on advancing to Iowa. The previous school record was 3:07.14, set in 1988.
Freshman Nick Vena (Morristown, N.J.) placed 14th in the men’s shot put with a mark of 18.14m (59′ 6.25″), while junior Dallas Rose (Pearland, Texas) finished 23rd in the women’s triple jump with a distance of 12.47m (40′ 11″).
In the men’s 5,000 meters, freshman Kyle King (Yorktown, Va.) placed 10th overall in 14:15.27, but because all 10 came from his heat, he did not qualify for Iowa.
The Cavaliers return to action for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.