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Virginia track and field enjoys a historic weekend at the Virginia Challenge

Several Cavaliers inked their name in both the event’s and program’s record books

<p>Sophomore sprinter Jay Pendarvis and senior sprinter Jordan Willis each set personal bests in the men's 200 meter event.</p>

Sophomore sprinter Jay Pendarvis and senior sprinter Jordan Willis each set personal bests in the men's 200 meter event.

Virginia track and field hosted several schools — including nine other ACC programs — from across the country for the Virginia Challenge, with the meet beginning Thursday in Lannigan Field. The Cavaliers rose through the packed field to come away with a number of successes by the event’s conclusion Saturday.


The first competition of the meet saw Virginia take the field for the men’s hammer throw. Junior thrower Jacob Lemmon earned sixth after a season-best toss of 62.59 meters (205’4”), a 0.74 meter increase from graduate thrower Evangelos Fradelakis’ previous season high. Fradelakis also competed, launching 60.81 meters (199’6”) to pick up an eighth place finish.

The women’s hammer throw followed, with freshman thrower Jada Marsh finishing 12th following a throw of 55.05 meters (180’7”). The throw was the fifth longest in Virginia women’s hammer throw history. 


The event’s second day began in winning fashion for the Cavaliers, as senior distance runner Peter Morris won the men’s 10000-meter with a time of 30:07.99. Sophomore distance runner Nick Karayianis followed in ninth, running a 30:47.17. 

Senior javelin thrower Ethan Dabbs put on a show in the men’s javelin, heaving a personal-best 80.41 meters (263’9”) to win the event — simultaneously setting a Virginia Challenge meet record and Lannigan Field facility record.

More records were broken in the women’s discus, this time by graduate thrower Ashley Anumba. After a personal-best 56.67 meter (185’11”) throw, Anumba won the event and took home the Virginia Challenge meet record for the competition. 

Sophomore thrower Maria Deaviz and senior thrower Thelma Kristjansdotti also competed in the event, finishing third and fourth with throws of 49.99 meters (164’0”) and 48.74 meters (159’11”), respectively. 

Sophomore sprinter Abby Comella set a personal best in the women’s 400-meter race, finishing 14th with a time of 55.49 seconds. Senior sprinter Jordan Willis won the men’s 400-meter event after a blazing time of 46.48 seconds.

Virginia placed two runners inside the top four of the women’s 100-meter, with junior sprinter Jada Seaman and sophomore sprinter Kayla Bonnick earning second and fourth following races of 11.43 seconds and 11.51 seconds, respectively. 

In the women’s 1500-meter, freshman distance runner Mia Barnett ran a 4:11.32 to pick up a second place finish. The time also placed Barnett second all-time in Virginia women’s 1500-meter history. 

Freshman distance runner Nathan Mountain participated in his first men’s 3000-meter steeplechase, finding immediate success with a sixth place finish and a time of 8:45.42. Mountain now ranks ninth all-time in the event in the program’s history.

The men’s 5000-meter competition also brought success for the Cavaliers, with sophomore distance runner Wes Porter running the fastest time in Virginia history. Porter placed fourth in the event, finishing in 13:36.84. 

Senior distance runner Rohann Asfaw garnered fifth in the men’s 10000-meter, running a 28:53.84. The time is the second fastest in the program’s history.

The men’s discus saw two more Cavaliers finish inside the top five. Junior thrower Claudio Romero had a toss of 64.79 meters (212’6”) winning the event handily and also breaking a Virginia Challenge meet record in the process. Lemmon ended in fourth after launching 57.65 meters (189’1”). 

To end the second day, junior pole vaulter Caroline Dannenbaum and sophomore pole vaulter Gabriella Recce tied for third place in the women’s pole vault event, each jumping 3.91 meters (12’10”). 

In the men’s pole vault, junior pole vaulter Kyle Mosteller turned in a personal-best performance of 4.81 meters (15’9.25”) to end in fourth. Junior pole vaulter Derek Pekar lept 4.66 meters (15’3.5”) for a fifth place finish. 


After a successful start to the meet’s opening two days, Virginia track and field finished in similar fashion, finishing near the top of nearly every event it competed in.

Senior high jumper Bex Hawkins collected fifth in the women’s invite high jump, soaring 1.76 meters (5’9.25”). In the men’s high jump, graduate jumper Jacob Kelly leaped a personal-best 2.04 meters (6’8.25”) for eighth place.

Seaman turned in a huge performance in the women’s 200-meter competition, taking the victory with a time of 23.18 seconds. It was a personal-best time for Seaman, and one that tied the Virginia Challenge meet record and came within one hundredth of second of a program record. Bonnick also garnered seventh, finishing the race in 24.01 seconds. 

Willis and sophomore sprinter Jay Pendarvis each inked personal bests in the men’s 200 meter event. Willis collected seventh with his time of 21.02 seconds, while Pendarvis’ race of 21.22 seconds was good for 13th.

The women’s shot-put found two Cavaliers within the top 10, including Deaviz and Anumba. Deaviz pushed 16.17 meters (53’0.75”) for third place, with Anumba finishing in eighth after a hoist of 15.03 meters (49’3.75”). 

Senior jumper Owayne Owens leaped 16.27 meters (53’4.5”) in the men’s triple jump to take home first place honors. The performance was Owens’ season best. Freshman jumper Heldi Valikaj placed 10th in the same competition, jumping 14.98 meters (49’1.75”).  

To close out the day, Virginia — represented by Willis, Pendarvis, junior sprinter Nigal Davis and freshman sprinter Alex Sherman — placed fourth in the men’s 4x400 relay. The Cavaliers completed the race in 3:11.19, a season-best time. 

Overall, Cavalier athletes set four Virginia Challenge records over the weekend and earned 11 personal best competitions in a three-day period that could only be considered a success for the program.

Virginia will return to action Thursday for the Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa., with the meet running for three days and concluding Saturday.