STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Virginia men’s and women’s track and field teams opened competition at the Penn State National Invitational where Conor Murphy put on a show in the 800-meters and the Cavaliers turned in a strong team performance across the board on Friday evening.

Murphy shined for Virginia his first crack at the 800-meters in 2023. The junior blazed to a victory winning his race with a personal-best time of 1:47.41. The time ranks third on the Virginia all-time indoor performance list and is the third-fastest time 800-meter time run in NCAA Division I this season.

Freshman Gary Martin turned in a strong performance in his first collegiate 800-meter race. The Warminster, Pa. native took fifth in his heat clocking 1:50.01 which ranks as the fifth-fastest time by a Virginia freshman.

On the women’s side of the event, State College Pa. native, Esther Seeland an impressive performance for her hometown crowd. In her first 800-meter race as a Cavalier, Seeland wasted no time taking down the Virginia indoor record in the event as she posted a time of 2:05.38 finishing third in the event. With the performance, Seeland edges past teammate Alahna Sabbakhan who set the record last season at the ACC indoor championships.

In his first trip to his home state as a Cavalier, Justin Rogers turned in an impressive performance. The Hershey, Pa. native finished fourth overall in the competition posting a mark of 5.01 meters (16’5.25”). Rogers cleared the five-meter mark for the first time in his collegiate career and became just the second freshman in UVA history to do so (Sam Young, 2017). On the women’s side, Caroline Dannenbaum took third place in the event.

Another freshman record fell shortly after as the Cavaliers took to the track for the men’s mile. James Donnahue blazed to a second-place finish in his heat clocking a Virginia freshman-record time of 4:01.97 topping Alex Tatu’s time of 4:03.00 set in 2005. Donnahue’s time ranks seventh all-time in Virginia history with just a fraction of a second separating him from teammate Wes Porter (4:01.82). Jack Eliason cruised to a third-place finish in his mile heat clocking a personal-best 4:03.51.

In the women’s mile, Ellie Desmond finished sixth overall posting a personal-best time of 4:43.88 knocking 12 seconds off her previous best.

Jada Seaman returned to action in the long jump as the veteran jumper took home a victory in the competition while teammate Tara Zeni placed ninth.

In the men’s weight throw, Jacob Lemmon placed fifth with a personal-best mark of 20.92 meters (68’7.75”), a mark that ranks third all-time at Virginia. John Fay also turned in a personal-best with his mark of 18.42 meters (60’5.25”).

In the 60-meter hurdles, Peter Djan placed fifth with his time of 8.10 seconds. While in the women’s 60-meter dash, Kayla Bonnick placed fourth clocking 7.46 seconds while Sarah Akpan placed eighth with her time of 7.58.

The first day of competition was capped by a 1-2 finish in the 5000-meters as Jacob Hunter took the victory clocking 14:05.03 followed by Andrew Jones in second with his time of 14:21.40.

From Director of Track & Field Vin Lananna:
“This was a really great opening day of competition for us as a team. Individually, Conor Murphy and Ellie Desmond are just a few of the many individuals that had some great performances across all event areas. I am proud of how we competed as a team today and am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Up Next:
The Cavaliers will resume action at the Penn State National tomorrow (Jan. 28) beginning at 10 a.m.