Program-best finish lands Cavaliers a top honor
Cavalier men’s track and field team ranked fourth in Program of the Year standings
For the Virginia men’s track and field team, this year was one of accomplishment. The running program, combining the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams, finished fourth in the John McDonnell Program of the Year standings, as announced by U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Tuesday. The competition tracks points across NCAA championships for all three seasons of running and combines results to showcase the most well-rounded program.
The Cavaliers placed 18th at the cross country championships, 16th at the indoor championships and third, a program-best, at the recent outdoor championships in Eugene, Ore. This third-place finish solidified a top-spot in the rankings for Virginia, tying them with Tulsa at 39 points across all seasons. The Cavaliers were one of only five teams to earn a top 20 finish at all three NCAA championships. But a well-rounded program was never going to surprise head coach Bryan Fetzer — in fact, it was exactly what he had built the team around.
“Some universities specialize in cross country or outdoors, etc.,” Fetzer said. “But we will continue to strive to have a complete program. That was my goal from the beginning. We want to contribute to the department’s goal of winning the Learfield Directors’ Cup by producing the most points possible, and being nationally competitive in all three seasons does just that. It speaks volumes to where we are as a program and everyone associated with the program has played a role in the success.”
This year marked the cross country team’s fifth consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Individually, four student-athletes earned All-America honors during the indoor season, while seven student-athletes earned All-America honors in the outdoor season. Senior Filip Mihaljevic (Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina) also captured the NCAA outdoor title in the shot put and the discus. These individual and team efforts helped land the Cavaliers a top finish in the McDonnell Program of the Year standings for the third year in a row.
“This is very important to our program,” Fetzer said. “Three straight years of ranking in the nation’s top-five places us among the track and field royalty.”