Virginia men, women place second in tri-meet
Hazzard wins two individual events, one relay; Lavender runs season’s fastest 400-meter
Lannigan Field was the scene for a showdown Saturday between three of the nation’s finest public universities: Virginia, Cal and Michigan. Both the Virginia men’s and women’s track teams placed second in the tri-meet — a vast improvement from last year’s showing in Berkeley, Calif.
California won the men’s meet with 142 points, while Virginia trailed by 18 points for second and Michigan brought up the rear with 108 points. However, the Wolverines and their 157 points were victorious on the women’s side. The Cavaliers sat behind Michigan with 132 points, and the Golden Bears finished a distant third with 85 points.
The performance of both teams stood in stark contrast to an abysmal showing in Berkeley last season, when Michigan and California left Virginia in the dust.
“It was pretty embarrassing to finish so low last season,” junior Jordan Lavender said. “But today we showed a lot of people what we can do.”
The men won six events total. Junior Payton Hazzard was the most valuable Cavalier, winning two individual events, the 200 and 400-meter dashes. His 46.93 mark in the 400-meter dash is among the top-five fastest national times this season.
“My goal is pretty simple: I want to run a fast time,” Hazzard said. “This is the time to dig down and take my rightful place as being one of the nation’s best.”
Hazzard was also the anchor leg on the men’s 4×400-meter relay. He received the baton in a dead heat with the California team only to pull away and win with a four-second margin. On the day, Hazzard accrued 21 points for his team.
“Big points win championships,” coach Bryan Fetzer said. “[Hazzard] is a great, young man, and he continues to improve.”
Virginia took two field events, with freshman Filip Milhaljevic winning the shot put with a throw of 60’ 7.75” — more than four feet farther than the runner up — and junior Christian Lavorgna winning the pole vault with a 13’ 9.25” jump, his best of the season. Senior Anthony Kostelac won the 800-meter run, crossing the finish line in 1:50.65.
The Virginia women’s team won seven events, highlighted by Lavender’s triumph in the 400-meter. Lavender set a personal best with a 52.57 — the second-fastest time in program history and the best collegiate time this season.
“I am extremely confident right now,” Lavender said. “I feel like I’m starting right where I left off during [the indoor season]. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”
Lavender was also part of the winning 4×100-meter relay team of graduate student Dallas Rose, freshman Andrea Wright and sophomore Peyton Chaney. Lavender took the baton with her team trailing California, but she surged to erase the deficit.
Not to be outdone, the 4×400 meter squad of freshman Chimere Ezumah, junior Vanessa Fabrizio, Chaney and Wright also claimed first place in a time of 3:41.01.
The Cavalier women won two events in the field. Senior Abbey Karin threw an even 155’ in the javelin to cruise to a victory. Golden Bear junior Jaci Powell — the runner up — threw 15 feet behind Karin.
Rose outjumped fellow Cavalier sophomore Jessica Caldwell for the women’s triple jump title, clearing a distance of 40’ 10.25”.
“We had a lot of folks who stepped up today,” Fetzer said. “They did some things for the team and the betterment of it. For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about finding your role, and it’s great that many of our athletes have found their role.”
The team will travel to George Mason next weekend for a final tuneup before the ACC Championship meet in Chapel Hill, N.C.