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May 28, 2016

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-Three student-athletes, juniors Filip Mihaljevic and Henry Wynne and redshirt freshman Oghenakpobo Efekoro, advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships from the NCAA East Preliminaries Saturday (May 28) at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

At the preliminary meet, each individual event (excluding the heptathlon and decathlon) has 48 competitors, while relays have 24 teams. The top 12 from every event move on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, to be held in Eugene, Ore., on June 8-11.

Wynne (Westport, Conn.) went wire-to-wire to win his quarterfinal of the 1,500 meters and advance to the national meet. Wynne finished in a time of 3:46.22, while fellow junior Mike Marsella (Hope Valley, R.I.) was 17th overall in 3:48.53. Wynne has now qualified for the national outdoor meet in the 1,500 meters for the second-consecutive year. Wynne captured the NCAA title in the indoor mile in March.

“I’m really happy about advancing to Eugene as that has been the goal all season,” Wynne said. “I went out there today and did what I have been doing all season. I won the heat, played it safe and now I am looking forward to two weeks from now and competing against the best guys in the country.”

“Henry ran a gutsy race from the front in tough windy conditions,” UVA distance coach Pete Watson said. “He did a great job staying out of trouble and continued to win races.”

Mihaljevic (Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina) finished third in the shot put and matched the UVA outdoor record with a mark of 20.16m (66′ 1.75″) to qualify for the national meet. Joining him in Eugene will be Efekoro (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who finished eighth with a throw of 18.76m (61′ 6.75″). Mihaljevic also qualified in the discus Friday, meaning he has qualified for the national outdoor meet in two events for the third-consecutive year.

“Today’s competition felt pretty good,” Mihaljevic said. “I equalized the school record and am getting into a pretty good rhythm, so that will give me extra confidence heading into nationals.”

“It is amazing to make nationals,” Efekoro said. “I had no idea what to expect and was really nervous the entire day, but I was able to put together one good throw and I am glad to be moving on, which was the main objective. I have some things to work on and I was hoping for a big throw (today), but we will have to save that for Oregon.”

“Both Filip and Pobo have been doing hard training in practice in hopes of peaking in Eugene, so it was a little bit of a risk, but I’m happy that they were able to complete this weekend’s goal of advancing to nationals,” UVA throws coach Kemal Mesic. “It is a joy to coach them and we are looking to have some fun and throw far in two weeks (at nationals).”

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Worrell (Fort Eustis, Va.) finished 17th in the triple jump with a mark of 15.72m (51′ 7″ – wind-aided).

In the 5,000 meters, senior Evan Chiplock (Saginaw, Mich.) placed 33rd overall in 14:43.89, while Wynne was 39th in 14:58.33.

Overall, the Cavalier men will have five student-athletes competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In addition to Efekoro, Mihaljevic and Wynne, graduate student William Gray (Birmingham, England – 3,000m steeplechase) and junior Jordan Young (Windsor, Ontario – discus) qualified Friday.

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