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Virginia track and field in good form at Hokie Invitational

With a host of impressive performances, the Cavaliers are carrying momentum into the indoor season

<p>The Cavaliers won several events and marked numerous personal bests over the weekend at the Hokie Invitiational</p>

The Cavaliers won several events and marked numerous personal bests over the weekend at the Hokie Invitiational

After a strong showing at the Virginia Tech Invitational the previous weekend, the Cavaliers returned to Blacksburg Friday and Saturday, keeping the momentum going with event wins, personal bests and marks that secured places on Virginia top-10 all-time performers lists. 

Day one

The first day of competition got off to a strong start as senior Gabriella Recce opened her 2024 season with a win in the women’s pole vault, jumping four meters to earn joint fifth on the indoor all-time performers list and become only the sixth Cavalier to hit the four-meter mark. Junior Caroline Dannenbaum completed a sweep of the event with a jump of 3.85 meters to take second place. 

The Cavalier men also shined in the field events, with junior John Fay and senior Jacob Lemmon finishing first and second in the weight throw. Fay’s mark of 20.98 meters earned him a personal best and secured his fourth-place spot in the all-time indoor performers list, while Lemmon’s throw of 20.86 meters earned him second place at the invitational. 

The Cavaliers also impressed on the track, as sophomore Peter Djan advanced to the finals in the men’s 60 meter hurdles, ultimately placing fifth in 8.04 seconds. Senior Kayla Bonnick and sophomore Sarah Akpan dominated their heat in the 60-meter prelims and advanced to the final. Bonnick ultimately raced to sixth place overall in 7.54 seconds.  

Akpan continued to impress as she placed fourth overall in the women’s 300 meter event in 39.08, only .05 seconds off the school record. The women also put down confident performances in the distance events to wrap up the day, as junior Luci Illnicki-Lambert won the third heat of the women’s mile in a personal-best time of 5:00.15, with sophomore Katie Dorsey finishing fifth in the same heat.

Day two

The second day of competition saw the Cavaliers continue the momentum from day one, kickstarted by fantastic performances in the women’s pole vault. Sophomore Celia Rifaterra won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 1.84 meters, moving her to second place in the all-time performers list for the indoor high jump. Rifaterra was closely followed by junior Carly Tarentino, who tied her personal best with a 1.75 meters jump to earn her second place. The action on the field continued in impressive fashion with junior Jordan Hardy jumping 12.87 meters to take second place and set an indoor personal best in the women’s triple jump.

These excellent performances in the field events set the tone for what was also a great day on the track. Junior Alex Sherman won the men’s 400 meters in 48.53 seconds, with sophomore Evans White IV taking third in 48.96. The women also raced well over the 400-meter event, with freshmen Ariel Fletcher and Brooke’Lyn Drakeford setting personal bests to finish in fifth and sixth place, respectively. 

The men also ran a strong race in the 4x400 meter relay, finishing up the two-day event on a great note by placing second with a time of 3:16.84. 

Vin Lananna, director of track and field and cross country, offered several positive thoughts on the team’s performance this weekend.

“This week was another great opportunity to build on a good start in the early portion of our season,” Lananna said. “We saw impressive performances and excellent progress at the Hokie Invitational. As we continue to move forward, I am excited for our program to put all of the pieces together and compete as a team next week at the Penn State National Open.” 

The Cavaliers will be back to racing on the track when they travel to State College, Penn. to compete at the Penn State National Open from Friday to Saturday.


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