The Virginia men’s and women’s track and field teams competed this past Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18 and 19, in the Keydet Invitational at the Corps Physical Training Facility in Lexington, Va. Both squads returned to action after opening the season last weekend at the Nittany Lion Challenge. The two-day meet consisted of Virginia in competition with 22 programs, including six student-athletes that place in the top 25 nationally in an event. Facing their first real test of the season, the Cavaliers responded by setting four facility records along with a multitude of PRs and first-place finishes.
On the first day of competition, the men set three facility records. Sophomore Alfred Shirley III opened his season with a facility record of 1:02.57 in the 500m run. In addition, both distance relay events set facility records. The 4x800 relay team of sophomore Ryan Buscaglia, redshirt junior Matthew Novak, redshirt junior Ari Klau and junior AJ Ernst ran a time of 7:40.41. In similar fashion, the distance medley relay team of Klau, Shirley, Buscaglia and redshirt junior Alex Corbett recorded another facility record time of 9:59.30.
"Today's races were a good way for some of our distance guys to start their seasons, and I was pleased with the results," assistant coach Jason Dunn said. "Relays are all about competing and that's the priority at this point in the season, so it was great for us to get two wins tonight in those events."
On the women’s side, record-breaking performances in the 60m dash, pole vault and high jump closed out the day’s series of explosive, breakout runs and field events. Redshirt freshman Halle Hazzard ran the second-fastest 60m dash in school history. Her time of 7.38 seconds in the semifinals earned her the top spot heading into tomorrow’s final. In the field, sophomore Gabrielle Hayes only paced the high jump but still managed to tie the facility record with a career-best jump of 1.70m.
“Highlighting the day was Halle [Hazzard] and Gabi [Hayes],” assistant coach Mario Wilson said. “Both established new collegiate bests today. Halle continues to hammer fast times and is exuding tremendous confidence in her craft. Gabi looked amazing today on her way to a first-place victory.”
Additionally, redshirt seniors Bridget Guy and Mia Barron both set facility records. Guy topped the pole vaulting field, clearing a height of 4.05m. Barron also paced the triple jump and still received a mark of 12.36m. In the 60m hurdles semifinal, three Cavaliers, led by senior Ciara Leonard, advanced to the next day’s final.
Returning to action the next morning at 10 a.m., the Cavaliers continued to string together fast times on the track and high marks in the field. Senior Nace Plesko highlighted the men’s side by setting a facility record in the shot put with a mark of 17.71m on his final attempt of the day.
The women’s team continued their hot streak in the sprints with Hazzard tying her career-best time from the previous day and winning the 60m dash, as well as junior Anna Jefferson taking first-place in the 200m dash with a time of 24.40. In the 60m hurdles, three Virginia runners competed in the finals with Leonard in second, junior Alexis Woodley in third and junior Andrenette Knight in fifth.
"I'm so excited for our ladies," Director of Track and Field Bryan Fetzer said. "We had back-to-back meets of growth and competitiveness. We continue to build each week, and this will be a very special year."
The Cavaliers will travel to New York City for the Columbia Challenge, another two-day meet, beginning Jan. 25.