Track and Field faces heavy competition at Virginia Challenge
1,200 athletes from 62 teams to compete at Lannigan Field
On a blustery Saturday evening two weeks ago, the Virginia track and field teams wrapped up their first home meets of the season with their heads held high. Collectively, they had broken many school and personal records, won a plethora of events and continued coalescing as a team.
This Friday and Saturday, the Cavaliers will host one of the biggest collegiate meets of the outdoor track and field season — the Virginia Challenge.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to compete … in the NCAA on our home track in our home city,” coach Bryan Fetzer said.
At this meet, 62 teams from around the nation will send over 1,200 athletes to compete at Lannigan Field. Of those 62 teams, over ten are in the USTFCCCA Top 25, Fetzer said. And, of those 1,200 athletes, there will be several national champions and potential Olympians.
“The sheer magnitude of it is amazing,” Fetzer said. “There’s not a better track and field competition in the state of Virginia, and there’s probably not a better overall competition on the east coast.”
In addition to the tough competition, this meet is also notable for being the teams’ Senior Night. One of the seniors competing is distance runner Adam Visokay.
“I love competing at home,” he said. “The fact that we don’t have to travel and the fact that we get to sleep in our own bed … are huge advantages.”
For Visokay, this meet represents more than just a chance to receive support from his fellow Cavalier faithful. An alumnus of Albemarle High School, Visokay has the chance to see some old family and friends at this meet, he said.
“I really feel the support a lot [being from Charlottesville],” he said. “It’s a really good time to see people that maybe I haven’t seen in as long of a time.”
For Visokay, he is unsure if this will be his last meet. As someone who was redshirted, he has one more year of eligibility to compete for Virginia if he so chooses. That decision will depend on the graduate schools he hears back from.
Regardless, Visokay is not letting the idea of this being his last home meet as a Cavalier affect him, he said.
“One of the things that coach Fetzer emphasizes a lot … [is] running every race like it may be your last race,” he said. “I’m going to try to have my best performance that I possibly can on that day.”
With only one more meet after the Virginia Challenge before the ACC Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., this upcoming meet represents an important opportunity for both teams. For the unranked Virginia women, it’s a chance to continue to unite as a team and make a splash. For the No. 6 Virginia men, this meet can further legitimize the team’s ranking and continue to harbor national spotlight.
However, for Fetzer, this meet is just like any other.
“It’s about the process,” he said. “This meet is just one more step in that process.”
An integral part of this process for Fetzer is getting everyone on the team to contribute. While both teams have their stars, other athletes have been stepping up in several ways, whether it be by setting personal records or by winning events.
“[Teamwork] has been one of our goals since I got here four and a half years ago,” Fetzer said. “The better our team comes together, the better we’re going to perform overall.”
Visokay said that this teamwork stems from the desire to achieve success by each individual on his team.
“I think that the men’s team has been pursuing the same goals this whole time and pursuing them one step at a time,” he said. “People have really risen to the occasion.”
Both Virginia teams have a lot to celebrate for this year. However, the season hasn’t reached its finish line just yet.
“I know the whole team is really excited with where we are now, but the hunger is still there,” Visokay said. “We’re not complacent at all.”