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Meyer’s National Championship highlights the conclusion of the season for a Virginia program on the rise

Several Cavaliers earn points for their team as the women record their best NCAA performance in 38 years

<p>Meyer became the first woman in program history to take home a national title</p>

Meyer became the first woman in program history to take home a national title

Day one

Junior Derek Johnson kicked off the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the Cavaliers by advancing to the finals in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Johnson ran a time of 8:36.91 and finished second in his heat to automatically qualify for the event finals on Friday. 

The only other athlete for Virginia to compete on the opening day of the meet was graduate student Sam Young in the pole vault. While Young did not record a clearance, he still earned All-American honorable mention status just by competing at the meet — becoming the first Cavalier to do so in this event.

Day two

Virginia had several athletes competing on the second day of the competition — the first for the women’s — at the NCAA Championship. Freshman Jada Seaman secured a ninth place finish in the long jump, earning second-team All-American honors. She jumped for 6.36 meters (20’ 10.5”) on her first attempt, which held up as her best of the day. She was joined in the event by sophomore Khyasia Caldwell, who finished 23rd with a best performance of 5.88 meters (19’ 3.5”). The two women were the first Cavaliers to compete in the long jump at the NCAA Championship since 2003.

Graduate student Andrenette Knight advanced to the finals of 400-meter hurdles after finishing second in her heat. Knight ran a time of 56.88 while advancing to the event finals for the first time in her career. Fellow graduate student Michaela Meyer also advanced to Saturday’s finals in the 800-meters by coming in second in the heat. Meyer clocked a time of 2:03.63 and will be the first Cavalier to compete in the 800-meter finals at this meet since 1985. In the shot put, freshman Maria Deaviz finished in 19th place after throwing for 16.36 meters (53’ 8.25”).

Virginia’s 4x100-meter relay team, made up of Seaman, freshman Kayla Bonnick, senior Halle Hazzard and graduate student Anna Jefferson, became the first ever group to represent the Cavaliers in the event at the NCAA Championship. They finished 16th with a time of 44.21, earning second-team All-American honors. 

Finally, the 4x400-meter relay team, composed of Seaman, Jefferson, Meyer and Knight, finished 17th with a time of 3:37.53.

Day three

The final day of men’s competition was highlighted by freshman Claudio Romero’s bronze medal in the discus throw, as well as fellow freshman Jacob Lemmon’s fifth place finish in the same event. Romero’s best throw of 61.36 meters (201’ 4”) came on his fifth attempt, while Lemmon’s threw for 57.78 meters (189’ 7”) on his first attempt, which held up as his best.

On the track, Johnson competed in the finals of the 3000-meter steeplechase. He came in seventh place after setting a school record time of 8:32.95. This was good enough to earn him a spot in the upcoming 2021 Olympic Trials for U.S. Track and Field.

The final Virginia athlete to compete for the men’s team was sophomore Owayne Owens in the triple jump. He was able to earn second-team All American status after a 15th place finish with a top effort of 15.77 meters (51’ 9”).

The five competitors for the men were able to tally 12 points and finish the meet in 28th place.

Day four

History was made on the final day of the meet as Michaela Meyer, after coming in second in her heat to qualify for the finals, became the first ever female Cavalier to win a national championship. She finished first in the 800-meters with a time of 2:00.28, breaking her own school record in the process. Almost immediately after crossing the finish line, Meyer was full of emotion.

“I am just so grateful for this opportunity and I’m happy to be representing Virginia,” Meyer said. “It is an amazing feeling. I am beyond grateful.”

Following this championship performance, Knight took third place in the 400-meter hurdles, running a time of 55.81. Both women earned first-team All-American honors for their efforts. 

After their races were scored, the Virginia women’s team finished with 16 points and wound up tied for 16th place at the meet. This was the best finish for the school since 1983.

This wraps up the first year for the team under Vin Lananna, director of track and field and cross country and associate athletics director for administration.

“I am very pleased with our week,” Lananna said. “We had some good performances … It’s great and we’re just getting started.”

The Cavaliers will surely celebrate the overall success of this season before beginning preparations to build on that success for next year.