The Virginia men’s and women’s track and field teams sent several student athletes to Eugene, Ore. to compete in the NCAA Track and Field Championships from Wednesday through Saturday. The Cavaliers earned various accolades, the greatest of which came from junior thrower Claudio Romero, who won an NCAA Championship in the discus throw event.
The action for the Cavaliers kicked off Wednesday evening as senior javelin thrower Ethan Dabbs received a silver medal for his efforts in the javelin throw event. The top-seeded Dabbs was competing in the javelin throw at the championships for the first time since 2019, and, despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021, he didn’t miss a beat in his return. Though Dabbs found himself in third place after his initial three throws, he elevated his game in the finals, launching a 79.68-meter throw to place second overall. This matches the highest finish for a Virginia athlete in the event.
Sophomore distance runner Yasin Sado also impressed Wednesday night with a 14th place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase. His 8:33.39 finish was good for second-team All-American honors.
The women’s team responded in turn by making Cavalier history for itself Thursday night. Sophomore thrower Maria Deavis competed in the shot put event. Deavis is the sixth female athlete in Virginia history to compete in the event, and she cleared the best distance in the Cavalier record book on her first throw, tossing the shot 17.97 meters. Deavis took fourth place overall in the event to cap off an outstanding sophomore campaign in which she set a variety of Virginia records and earned indoor and outdoor ACC titles in the shot put event.
Additionally, senior distance runner Helena Lindsay completed a 10:14.78 3000-meter steeplechase, placing 19th overall, while junior sprinter Jada Seaman ran the 200-meter in 23.94 seconds to earn a 23rd place overall finish.
The Cavaliers’ crowning achievement of the week came on the second and final day of competition for the men when Romero took home the crown in the discus event. After trading the top ranking with California’s freshman thrower Mykolas Alekna for the majority of the season, the two finally clashed at the championships and Romero emerged victorious as a result of a 66.17-meter heave. Alekna trailed by two centimeters heading into the finals and was ultimately unable to top the impressive efforts of Romero who became the second Virginia athlete to earn the title of NCAA Discus Champion alongside Filip Mihaljevic who won in 2017.
“I feel really good,” Romero said. “Sometimes even the best athletes come short of the NCAA Championship. Being able to call myself that is definitely one of the milestones of my athletic career that I wanted to check as soon as possible.”
Romero’s teammate, junior thrower Jacob Lemmon, also competed in the discus throw event, earning All-American honors and a 15th overall finish with a toss of 56.77 meters.
Graduate student thrower Ashley Anumba also earned recognition for her efforts in the discus event as she was named second-team All-American for a 52.24-meter heave that placed her 15th overall in the event. Anumba is the fourth female Cavalier to earn All-American honors in the event.
The men’s program turned in a 14th place overall team finish, while the women placed 41st overall at the championships. As a whole, Virginia demonstrated their ability to compete among the best programs in the country, and individual performances like that of Dabbs and Romero indicate a bright future for the program.
“This week proved that the University of Virginia is a competitor on the national level,” said Vin Lananna, director of track and field. “As a unified team, we will continue to chip away season by season until we find ourselves on the podium.”
Virginia Cross Country and Track & Field will return to competition this fall.