Various Virginia sports teams have had an eventful summer so far. The ACC announced a major conference scheduling update for football, and track and field and women’s soccer athletes are making a name for themselves on the global stage. Additionally, several Cavalier teams saw success in the transfer and recruiting realm, and Virginia capped off another strong overall year in athletics with an 11th-place finish in the Director’s Cup.
Football schedule remodeled, dissolving existing divisional structure
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced a new football scheduling model, set to take place from 2023 through 2026. In the model, the Atlantic and Coastal divisions will be dissolved and, instead, teams will play the same three opponents every year — with Virginia’s primary opponents being Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech — while playing a home and away game with the other 10 teams during the four year span.
“I am very grateful that our student-athletes will have an opportunity to experience a game day environment at every other institution in the ACC,” Coach Tony Elliott said.
The envisioned goal of the model is to allow every team to play a home and away game against every other team, among other goals.
“The new model creates several enhancements for ACC football, which will be beneficial to the league, our student-athletes and our fans,” Athletic Director Carla Williams said.
Track and field stars on national stage, earning spot at World Athletic Championships
Meanwhile, another Virginia men’s track and field star is making headlines. After junior discus thrower Claudio Romero won the NCAA national championship earlier in June, senior javelin thrower Ethan Dabbs won the gold medal in javelin at the USATF Outdoor Championships, which took place June 26.
Dabbs was in fifth place with one throw left when he launched a throw of 81.29 meters to jump up to first place and capture his first national championship. Even more impressive is the journey Dabbs has faced to get back to his best athletic performance of recent memory.
Dabbs had surgery just a year ago on his throwing arm and has worked his way back to championship form. This season, Dabbs set an ACC and ACC Championships record, throwing 82.93 meters. Additionally, he was voted Virginia’s comeback player of the year by his teammates this spring.
After his championship performance, Dabbs will compete at the World Athletic Championships representing the United States with the javelin throw set to begin on July 21st. The championships will be held in Eugene, Ore. Dabbs will join Romero at the championships, where Romero will be representing Chile after qualifying earlier in the spring.
In addition to Dabbs, freshman Mia Barnett competed at the USATF U20 Outdoor Championships, where she finished in second place in the 1500 meters. Barnett set a Virginia freshman record this spring in the 800 meters and will look to improve on her impressive freshman season.
Current and former women’s soccer players compete at Concacaf Championships
The Virginia women’s soccer team has four athletes competing in the Concacaf Women’s Championship, which began July 4. Three of the athletes are alumnae — Diana Ordoñez, Becky Sauerbrunn and Emily Sonnett. The fourth and final Cavalier is fifth-year defender Claire Constant. Ordoñez is representing Mexico, Sauerbrunn and Sonnett are representing the United States, and Constant is representing Haiti.
With group play finished and all four athletes competing together in group A, the United States won the group and advanced to the final. Each athlete has logged at least one start, and Sonnett scored the United States’ first goal in their semifinal match against Costa Rica.
Cavaliers have transfer and recruiting success
In other recent news, the Virginia men’s basketball team received its first commitment for the 2023 recruiting class. Blake Buchanan, from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, announced his commitment to Virginia over Gonzaga July 3.
Buchanan is Idaho’s top-ranked prospect, a 6-foot-10 power forward/center and is ranked as the No. 107 overall player in the 2023 class. He is a great first addition to the 2023 class as the Cavaliers hope to equal or improve on a 2022 class that was one of the best Coach Tony Bennett has had at Virginia.
After an incredibly successful season, Virginia swimming and diving continues to improve. The women’s team won the NCAA national championship for the second consecutive year on March 19th, while the men’s team finished 10th overall. The women’s team is now adding two transfers to an already tremendous team, while the men’s team just received news of a transfer.
Rising junior Georgia transfer Maxine Parker and rising junior UCLA transfer Sam Baron both transferred to Virginia in May and will join the women’s team. Meanwhile, the men’s team received great news that rising sophomore Tim Connery, a Texas transfer, will be joining the team. Connery announced his transfer July 4 and won an individual Big 12 Championship in the 100-yard butterfly in the spring.
Director’s Cup final standings released
Finally, Virginia athletics as a whole had a very successful year. The LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup final standings were announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics on June 30th. Virginia finished 11th overall, the same place the Cavaliers finished last year too. NCAA team championships in men’s tennis and in women’s swimming and diving played a big factor in Virginia’s final place.
Virginia has placed in the top 25 for the 15th straight year. The points in the Directors’ Cup accumulate from a school’s NCAA postseason finish in 19 sports. Four of the sports must be both men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and volleyball.