After impressive individual performances in 2021-22, the Virginia cross country and track & field teams are looking to put together high-level team results this season. With several top-tier athletes returning to the program and talented incoming recruiting classes, the Cavaliers may be able to do so.
The spring and summer afforded Virginia’s standout athletes chances to compete against the best competition in the country and, in some cases, the world. On the men’s team, graduate student javelin thrower Ethan Dabbs, who won silver at the NCAA Outdoor Championships this spring, won the USA Track and Field outdoor javelin title in June and represented the United States at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Senior discus thrower Claudio Romero — the 2022 NCAA outdoor discuss champion — represented his native country Chile at the World Athletics Championships. Last season, he set an ACC record in his event and won gold for a second consecutive season. His postseason performances earned him All-ACC and All-American honors, as well as ACC Field Performer of the Year.
For throwers like Dabbs and Romero – who are certainly now the veterans of the squad – the upcoming season is an opening to build on already established milestones. Results throughout the fall season will be indicative of the opportunity for both to excel even further on the national and global stage.
Graduate student triple jumper Owayne Owens logged his name in program history as the first ever men’s track and field athlete to be a first team academic All-American. At the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Owens earned first team All-American status with an eighth place finish in his event. During the outdoor portion of the season, Owens took silver at the ACC Championships and finished 19th at the NCAA Championships.
On the women’s team, sophomore distance runner Mia Barnett finished fourth in the 1,500 meter at the ACC Championships and qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships last spring. She became just the second women’s athlete in program history to be named ACC Freshman of the Year, joining Morgane Gay, who won the award in 2009.
Junior thrower Maria Deaviz became the sixth Cavalier in women’s program history to compete at the NCAA Championships, where she finished fourth and set another program record. She became the first ever Virginia athlete to earn first team All-American honors in the shot put.
Deaviz swept gold in the shot put at the ACC Championships for both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Her standout performances in the past year have been yet another indicator of the growing strength of Virginia across all throwing events.
The good news for the Cavaliers is that their program is bringing back all these outstanding athletes from last season and welcoming 15 new women and 16 new men to the program. Among the 15 women joining the women’s team are freshman distance runner Katie Dorsey — the Delaware 1,600 Meter State Champion — and freshman distance runner Amelia Maughan — the North Carolina 1,600 Meter and 3,200 Meter State Champion. Maughan is widely expected to be a key member of the cross country team.
Virginia has also brought in six transfer women’s athletes, including sophomore distance runner Addison Cox, graduate middle distance runner Esther Seeland, and graduate distance runner Rebecca Story. Cox — a transfer from New Hampshire — finished 11th at the America East Cross Country Championships last year. Seeland is a transfer from Division III Messiah College, where she won five NCAA championships between indoor and outdoor competitions. She competed in the World Championship Trials in the 800 meter this summer. Story, a distance runner from Stanford, helped the Cardinals secure a Pac-12 team cross country championship in 2020-2021.
The men’s recruiting class features transfer senior middle distance runner Kenton Bachmann and transfer graduate student sprinter Thomas Corel as well as several distinguished freshmen. Bachmann comes from fellow ACC program Wake Forest, where he earned second team All-ACC honors in the 800 meter indoor championship. Corel is a 400 meter specialist from Wagner University, where his relay teams won gold at the NEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Freshman distance runner Will Anthony represented New Zealand at the U20 World Championships. Freshman distance runner James Donahue finished third in the 1,600 meter at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. At the U20 Outdoor Championships, freshman Justin Rogers won the pole vault.
The addition of both new recruits and transfers should make a strong pairing with existing veteran athletes on the team. The blend of youth and experience will bode well for the Cavaliers for years to come.
In addition, new athletes to the program should serve the teams well as they head into competition this season. While the track and field portions of the schedule will not begin until later in the fall, the cross country team will begin competing Saturday at the Spider Alumni Open in Richmond. In the coming months, Virginia will host two meets and travel to Boston, Mass. and Bethlehem, Pa. for competitions hosted by Boston College and Lehigh University, respectively.
Virginia will host this year’s ACC Cross Country Championships Oct. 28, where the team will hope to improve on its 10th place women’s finish and seventh place men’s finish last season and qualify for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Louisville, Ky. two weeks later.