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June 14, 2016

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NEW ORLEANS, La.-The Virginia men’s track and field/cross country program has finished fifth in the 2015-16 John McDonnell NCAA Division I Men’s Program of the Year rankings, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Tuesday (June 14). The rankings honor the institutions that achieve the most success each academic year over all three seasons (cross country, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field), based on the school’s finish at the NCAA Championships.

The fifth-place finish for the Cavaliers matches last year’s ranking and is tied for the best finish in program history. With a 22nd-place finish at the national meet in cross country and program-best finishes in indoor track and field (tied for eighth) and outdoor track and field (seventh), UVA was just one of six schools that finished in the top 25 in all three seasons and one of three (Oregon, Oklahoma State) that have completed the feat the last two years.

“The USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings are very telling on the overall strength nationally of our men’s program,” UVA director of track and field/cross country Bryan Fetzer said. “This group has worked diligently at becoming one of the best programs in the NCAA and to finish in the top five each of the last two years is the direction and level we strive for at UVA.”

Amongst the highlights for the Cavaliers were the men’s cross country team qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the fourth-consecutive year, junior Henry Wynne (Westport, Conn.) capturing the NCAA title in the indoor mile and fellow junior Filip Mihaljevic (Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina) becoming the first Virginia field event NCAA champion after winning the outdoor shot put.

“We have a unique situation where athletes are asked to compete in three very different sports over the course of one academic year,” Fetzer said. “Some universities are competitive in just one but the goal here is to be great at all three, scoring as many Director’s Cup points as we can for the University.

“Being ranked among the best overall programs in our sport speaks volumes about our student-athletes and my entire staff. In particular, our head athletic trainer, Shelley Blakey, and our medical staff plays huge role in our success. It is difficult for a team to keep healthy over the course of one season. We are very blessed to have her and the medical staff supporting us.”

In order to be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for each of the NCAA Championships. Scoring is based on the team’s finish at each NCAA Championship in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field (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. Ties among schools split points for positions taken.

The Cavaliers finished with 37.5 points, their best-ever score, and were the highest ranked ACC school. Oregon defended its Program of the Year title with nine points, followed by Arkansas (10), Stanford (24.5), Washington (33), UVA (37.5), Virginia Tech (50), Oklahoma State (58.5), Syracuse (63.5), Colorado (70) and BYU (72).

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