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Track and field impresses at the Virginia Tech Invitational

The Cavaliers opened their 2021 season in Blacksburg, Va. this weekend, securing strong finishes across both track and field events

<p>Senior Halle Hazzard had an outstanding start to her indoor season, placing first in the 60-meter and 300-meter dash events.&nbsp;</p>

Senior Halle Hazzard had an outstanding start to her indoor season, placing first in the 60-meter and 300-meter dash events. 

Virginia track and field kicked off its indoor season at the Rector Field House in Blacksburg this past weekend as numerous athletes shook off the rust and secured career bests. 

2020 All-American junior standout Owayne Owens topped the men’s triple jump with a first-place finish and a career-best of 16.25 meters (53’3.75”).

The men also secured a one-two finish in the unseeded pole-vault event. Junior Kane Aldrich finished first in the event with a height of 4.90 meters (16’0.75”), tying a career best. Junior Colin Duignan also turned in a solid performance with a height of 4.75 meters (15’7”) to cement a second-place finish in the event. 

Two redshirt freshmen had great contributions in their collegiate debuts. Jacob Lemmon finished third in the weight throw with a mark of 18.70 meters (61’4.25”). His effort in the event now ranks fifth all-time in Virginia history. Claudio Romero had a throw of 17.50 meters (57’5”). That currently sits 10th all-time in school history. Graduate student Ty Kunzman also climbed the program’s record books with a throw of 18.19 meters (59’8.25”), which is now seventh all-time.

Senior Halle Hazzard starred on day one for the women’s team. Hazzard shined in the 60-meter and 300-meter dash. Her blazing times of 7.31 in the 60-meter dash and 39.14 in the 300-meter dash wrapped up a first-place finish in both events. 

Freshman Kayla Bonnick had a great showing in her first collegiate 60-meter dash, sprinting her way to second place with a time of 7.54. Bonnick’s time is now the ninth fastest in school history. 

2020 All-American performers sophomore Jada Seaman and senior Khyasia Caldwell added to Virginia’s great performance in the 300-meter event by placing third and fourth, respectively, with times of 39.79 and 40.15. Hazzard, Seaman and Caldwell secured three out of the 13 top-four finishes for the Cavaliers. 

The women duplicated the men’s unseeded pole-vault performance by placing one-two in the event. Sophomore Riley Larson sealed first place with a height of 3.67 meters (12’0.5”). Freshman Trina Barcarola had a great performance in her collegiate debut, clearing a height of 3.52 meters (11’6.5”) to secure second place. 

Vin Lananna, director of track and field and cross country and associate athletics director of administration, was very pleased with how opportunistic his players were on opening day. 

“After almost a full year of no competition, our student athletes took advantage of this great opportunity to compete at a great facility,” Lananna said. “Every event group shined. I am very proud of our team in every event.” 

On the second day of the Virginia Tech Invitational, the Cavalier women and men established their dominance over the field events against some tough ACC competition. 

Caldwell claimed the top spot in the long jump with an outstanding jump of 6.09 meters (19’11.75”). Caldwell’s jump catapulted to the fourth best in the NCAA this season. Seaman also earned a top five spot, placing fourth with a mark of 5.87 meters (19’3.25”).

The Cavaliers swept the women’s shot put, securing the top three spots in a field of 11.. 

Freshman Maria Deaviz secured first place with a score 15.43 meters (50’7.5”). Her performance set a new freshman record in Virginia history and is now ranked seventh best in all-time Virginia history. Senior Brittany Jones and junior Thelma Kristjansdottir placed second and third with marks of 14.56 meters (47’9.25”) and 13.75 meters (45’1.5”).

Freshmen Keara Seasholtz and Gabriella Recce were also impactful during their debuts.   

Seasholtz commanded the top spot in the women’s 800-meter event with a time of 2:12.07.

Recce earned a height of 3.67 meters (12’0.5”) in the pole vault. Recce’s performance landed the ninth spot on Virginia’s all-time list. 

Junior Rebecca Hawkins turned in a second-place performance in the high jump by clearing a height of 1.74 meters (5’8.5”). That now ranks eighth best in school history. Junior Alix Still placed fourth at 1.71 meters (5’7.25”).

The Cavalier women showcased what they are capable of as the season begins to take shape. 

“The women’s team showed great promise with Khyasia Caldwell and Rebecca Hawkins in jumps,”  Lananna said. “Maria Deaviz had a freshman record in the shot.” 

Freshman Jay Pendarvis had a great debut in the men’s 200-meter event. Pendarvis captured first place with a time of 22.46. 

Romero performed well in the shot put with a tally of 18.44 meters (60’6”) to finish second. He now ranks seventh all-time in program history. Lemmon finished fifth in the same event with a score of 16.47 meters (54’0.5”).

Junior Ayende Watson finished fifth in the long jump with a height of 6.43 meters (21’1.25”).

The Cavaliers’ distance medley relay team consisted of graduate student Randy Neish, senior Brandon Outlaw and freshmen runners Connor Murphy and Wes Porter. Together, they ran uncontested with a time of 9:48.73. 

The men’s solid weekend was further enhanced with the day-two performances.

“Claudio Romero’s big personal record in the shot coupled with a good solo effort in the distance medley bolstered the men’s weekend,” Lananna said. 

The Cavaliers will look to build on their success in a few days. Virginia will be returning to Blacksburg to compete in the two-day Hokie Invitational that begins Friday at Rector Field House. 

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