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Virginia’s indoor track and field looks poised for a strong 2021 season

The Cavaliers’ roster possesses a healthy amount of valuable experience and pedigree for sustained success

<p>After placing second at last year's ACC Indoor Championships, sophomore triple jumper Owayne Owens will look to top the podium this year.&nbsp;</p>

After placing second at last year's ACC Indoor Championships, sophomore triple jumper Owayne Owens will look to top the podium this year. 

After a tumultuous fall season dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vin Lananna, the director of track and field and cross country and associate athletic director, will lead the Cavaliers after a successful 2020 indoor season that produced five All-Americans and five ACC titles. Last year, the men’s team secured a one-two finish in the triple jump and the women’s team secured a one-two finish in the long jump at the ACC Championships. The men’s team took home third place overall, while the women’s team finished 10th. 

This year’s roster boasts nine student-athletes that earned All-ACC recognition at the 2020 conference championships and rewrote the school’s record books last season. 

Senior Khyasia Caldwell and sophomore Jada Seaman highlight the 2021 women’s indoor roster after completing All American and NCAA Championship qualifying seasons in the long jump. Caldwell finished second in the long-jump at 6.28 meters (20’7.75”), while Seaman took home the gold with a 6.44 meter (21’2.5”) jump at the 2020 ACC Championships. Caldwell and Seaman earned All-ACC honors for their efforts. Seaman was also named the 2019-2020 ACC Indoor Freshman of the Year.

The rest of the women’s roster is filled with a plethora of other top performers from last season. 

Senior Halle Hazzard set a school record with a time of 7.24 seconds in the 60-meter event during the 2020 indoor season. Hazzard won the 60-meter and 300-meter events at this year’s Virginia Tech Invitational  with times of 7.31 and 39.14. She ranks second all-time in Virginia history in the 200-meter event with a time of 23.79. 

Graduate student Anna Jefferson is also coming off a great 2020 season. She earned second team All-ACC honors in the 200-meter and 400-meter events, earning top-10 finishes in both events at last year’s ACC Championships. Furthermore, at last year’s Virginia Tech Invitational, Jefferson recorded a career-best time of 7.40 in the 60-meter event, which ranks fourth all-time in Virginia history. 

Three-time All-American graduate student Andrenette Knight earned 2020 second-team All-ACC indoor honors in the 400-meter event after a top-five finish at last year’s ACC Championships. She ran a career best of 53.50, which currently ranks second all-time in Virginia history. Knight can also specialize in the 500-meter event. She placed second at this year’s Virginia Tech Invitational with a time of 1:16.10.

Sophomore Alahna Sabbakhan ran a career best 2:09.57 in the 800-meter and finished ninth at the 2020 Indoor ACC Championships. Sabbakhan’s 2020 posting currently ranks sixth all-time in Virginia history. 

Sophomore Maya Maloney headlines the pole-vault event for the Cavaliers. Maloney won the pole vault at last year’s Virginia Tech Invitational with a mark of 3.90 meters (12’9.5”). She tallied a season best jump of 3.97 meters (13’0.25), which ranks second all-time in Virginia history. 

Maloney will be accompanied by sophomore Riley Larsen who also posted a season-best jump in 2020, posting a height of 3.80 meters, which is  sixth all-time in Virginia history. Larsen won this year’s Virginia Tech Invitational  at 3.67 meters (12’1.5”). 

Seniors Brittany Jones and Eva Mustafic will lead the shot-put and weight-throw events for the Cavaliers. In 2020, Jones secured a career-best in the shot-put event  at 16.27 meters. In 2021, Jones placed second at the Virginia Tech Invitational with a mark of 14.56 meters (47’9.25).

Mustafic owns the seventh-best throw in school history with a mark of 26.92 meters set in 2019, and while she did not participate in the 2020 indoor season, she will look to pick up from where she left off in 2019. 

Junior Alix Still earned second team All-ACC honors in the pentathlon event. Still finished sixth in the event at the 2020 ACC Championships with a score of 3,657, which ranks ninth in Virginia history. 

The women’s roster should be well-equipped this season to set new marks and build on a strong showing in 2021. 

The men’s team consists of four individual ACC Championship winners and five school record holders. 

The roster will have to overcome a major loss with the departure of All-American and NCAA Championship qualifier graduate student Jordan Scott to Southern California. Scott led the NCAA in the triple jump and also set ACC and Virginia records in that category. For his efforts, he was named USTFCCCA Southeast Regional Field Athlete of the Year and ACC Field Athlete of the Year. 

The loss of Scott is expected to be offset with two All-Americans in graduate student Brenton Foster, a high-jump specialist, and junior Owayne Owens, a triple-jump specialist. 

Foster will be defending his ACC Championship in the high jump this season. He set the highest jump in program history last season with a height of 2.26 meters (7’5”), which was also the fourth-best in the country. 

Owens comes into this season as an ACC Championship runner-up and holds a career-best jump of 16.25 meters (53’3.75”), which was seventh best in the country last season, and he ranks third in program history. Owens won this year’s Virginia Tech Invitational at 16.35 meters (53’7.75).

Other top performers on the roster are seniors Jordan Willis and Brandon Outlaw, who are specialists in the 200-meter, 300-meter and 400-meter events. 

Willis earned second team All-ACC honors in the 400-meter event after a top-five finish in last season’s ACC Indoor Championships. He owns the fastest 200-meter time in program history at 21.42. He also sits third all-time in the 400-meter event with a time of 46.61.

In addition to Willis, Outlaw was also second team All-ACC in the 400-meter event after placing in the top five at the ACC Indoor Championships. In 2020, Outlaw secured the fastest 400-meter time in program history with a time of 46.58. He is also ninth on the all-time list in the 200-meter event. 

Senior Rohann Asfaw adds to the experience on the roster. He claimed second team All-ACC honors for the 3000-meter event and placed fourth at the Indoor ACC Championships last year. 

Graduate student Sam Young and sophomore Kane Aldrich highlight the pole-vault event. Young enters 2021 as a 2020 Indoor ACC champion and in 2020, he set a school record, clearing a height of 5.38 meters. 

Aldrich finished in the top 10 at last year’s ACC Championships. He also won this year’s pole vault event at the Virginia Tech Invitational with a height of 4.90 meters (16’0.75”). That mark is tied for eighth all-time in program history. 

The Cavaliers’ pole-vault team should receive an additional boost with the addition of graduate transfer Joey Kelly. Kelly comes in from Lehigh University. In 2020, he won the pole-vault  event at the Indoor Patriot League Championship and earned the Indoor Lehigh-Lafayette Dual Meet Male Field Athlete of the Meet award. 

Sophomores Derek Pekar and Elby Omohundro are the top indoor performers in the heptathlon event. 

Pekar was the ACC Champion in the heptathlon and earned All-ACC honors. He also won VaSID Field Rookie of the Year. He set the second-best heptathlon score in school history as a freshman with a score of 5,362.

Omohundro also earned All-ACC honors in the heptathlon event after placing fourth in the ACC Championships in 2020. He currently has the sixth-best score in program history at 5,038. 

Based on the success and experience of this year’s roster, team expectations will be high, and the sky will undoubtedly be the limit throughout the 2021 indoor season.  


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