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Virginia track and field stuns at NCAA Outdoor Championships

The event was highlighted by senior Shane Cohen becoming the men’s 800-meter national champion

<p>Appleton races toward a First Team All-American finish.</p>

Appleton races toward a First Team All-American finish.

This past weekend saw Virginia track and field travel to Eugene, Ore. for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, sending a total of 11 athletes — eight men and three women — to represent the Cavaliers from Wednesday to Saturday. The men’s team finished eighth overall with a total of 26 points, while the women’s team finished 40th overall with 5 points. The weekend also saw six Cavaliers become First Team All-Americans and four become Honorable Mention All-Americans.

Day One 

The weekend got off to an electric start on the men’s side, as both junior Nate Mountain and senior Yasin Sado qualified for the final in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. Both Cavaliers qualified comfortably with automatic positions — Mountain finished second in the first heat in a time of 8:32.92, and Sado finished fourth in the second heat in a time of 8:30.03. 

Keeping the momentum going, senior Shane Cohen delivered a fantastic kick with 100 meters to come from the back of the pack to win the first heat and advance to the final of the men’s 800-meter event in a time of 1:46.94. Senior Wes Porter also gained an automatic qualifier to the final in the men’s 1,500-meter event by placing third in the slower first heat with a time of 3:39.88. Unfortunately, star sophomore Gary Martin did not advance past this first heat, placing ninth in a time of 3:41.43. 

In the men’s 10,000-meter straight final, sophomore Will Anthony put forth a valiant effort to place 18th in the men’s 10,000-meter event with a time of 28:56.48. Back on the field, junior John Fay finished 23rd in the men’s hammer throw with a mark of 65.23 meters. 

Day Two 

Day two saw less action from the Cavaliers, as the only athlete competing, junior Janae Profit, did not record a mark in the women’s shot put.

Day Three

The third day of competition, in contrast to the day before, was action-packed and full of thrilling performances by the men’s team. The day was highlighted by the most noteworthy performance of the season — in a historic rise to the top, Cohen, a Division II transfer from Tampa that just had a breakout season at Virginia, rose to the occasion in the men’s 800-meter event. With the unbelievable kick he has become known for, Cohen turned on the engine with less than 200 meters to go, running wide and moving from solidly at the back of the pack to first place to become a national champion. In doing so, Cohen ran a personal-best time of 1:44.97 and became one of only two collegians to run under 1:45 in the 800 meters this season.

The electric performances on the track continued, as Mountain ran a strong race from the front of the pack in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase to finish in second place in 8:25.71. Sado also impressed with a seventh-place finish in 8:28.17 — combined, the two earned major points for the Cavaliers.  

Porter also delivered in the men’s 1,500-meter final to finish in an impressive sixth place in 3:40.39 — he was seeded 22nd out of 24 heading into Eugene, so he truly rose to the occasion in his NCAA Outdoor debut. The Cavalier men were equally successful on the field, as senior Jacob Lemmon placed sixth in the men’s discus with a throw of 60.43 meters. 

Day Four

The final day of competition was a big one for the women, as junior Margot Appleton ran a consistent race in the women’s 5,000-meter event to place fourth in a time of 15:24.24. Appleton displayed incredible range this season, as she moved up significantly in distance after placing third in the women’s 1,500-meter event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year. Sophomore Celia Rifaterra wrapped up a stellar weekend for the Cavaliers with a good showing in the women’s high jump, finishing 18th with a mark of 1.77 meters.

This was a truly exceptional weekend for Virginia track and field. The men’s team had a historic outing, finishing in eighth place overall — their third-highest finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in program history, with their second-highest point total ever of 26 points. It is also worth noting that Virginia placed higher as a team than any other school in the ACC for the second year in a row — a thoroughly impressive feat considering the depth and quality of the conference. The women’s team — while posting a weaker team performance of 40th place with 5 points overall —  also saw a truly standout performance from Appleton.

Overall, the 2024 campaign — punctuated by an ACC Championship — was wildly successful for the track and field program. Multiple All-Americans and a top ten finish for the men’s team provide promising momentum going into 2025 and beyond. 


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