Track stars compete at ACC Championships
Hazzard, Amirault highlight men's team; Bickersteth craves repeat title
The Virginia track and field team will be competing this weekend at the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Blacksburg. Both the men and the women finished fourth overall in this meet last year.
The men’s side is led by sophomore sprinter Payton Hazzard and graduate student and distance runner Mark Amirault. Hazzard set the school record this winter in the 400 meter dash with a time of 47.17 seconds, while Amirault will be running in the 3000 meter this weekend and defending his 5000 meter title after leading a 1-2-3 Cavalier sweep last year. Along with the rest of their teammates, both understand they will have their work cut out for them as they face tough competition from formidable Virginia Tech and Florida State squads.
“I feel like we are going into battle,” Hazzard said. “I am pretty excited, pretty hyped to see what we are going to do. [We’re] expecting big things this weekend.”
Hazzard currently ranks third in the ACC in the 400, only .09 seconds behind top-seeded Alonzo Russell from Florida State.
Amirault, meanwhile, enters the meet as the third seed in the 3000. He will be hard-pressed to topple NC State redshirt senior star Ryan Hill, who currently leads the ACC and sits second in the NCAA with a time of 7 minutes and 49 seconds.
Sophomore Christian Lavorgna currently stands in eighth place in the men’s heptathlon, despite besting his marks from last year’s seventh-place finish in his first four events, but the event does not conclude until Friday.
For the women, seniors high jumper Pearl Bickersteth and distance runner Vicky Fouhy look primed to excel. Bickersteth has a season best of 1.77 meters so far this season, just below the 1.79 meters which gave her the indoor ACC title last year. Though mindful of the challenges which loom for any defending champion, Bickersteth expressed confidence in her ability to again triumph against a vaunted field.
“I think [being a champion] adds a lot of pressure, but at the same time I know I can do it,” Bickersteth said. “If I do exactly what I [did] last year, I can repeat.”
Seeded second with a time of 4 minutes and 42 seconds, Fouhy will attempt to capture gold in the 1 mile run.
Versatile sophomore sprinter Jordan Lavender will also look to make some noise this weekend. Lavender has posted the team’s best marks in the 60, 200 and 400 meter runs as well as the long jump. However, she will limit herself to just the 400, long jump and 4×400m relay this weekend.
By the end of Thursday’s competition, one Cavalier had already boosted the women’s squad’s chances with a commendable performance. Junior Anna Finger finished fourth in the pentathlon, setting personal records in four out of five events and winning the long jump portion of the five-event competition.
Action continues Friday and Saturday.