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Cavaliers Prepare For ACC Outdoor Championships


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia track and field teams head to the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at the University of Miami this weekend. Events will begin on Thursday at 11:30 a.m., and conclude with an award ceremony at 8:10 p.m. on Saturday. Live results will be available at, while will provide live coverage of events on Friday and Saturday.

The Cavaliers will send a total of five ACC Champions to the conference meet this season as Virginia looks to improve upon two top-five finishes from a year ago and add to the 18 Cavaliers who have already regionally qualified this season.

Virginia will send a strong contingent of competitors in the throwing events, led by two-time ACC Champion Yemi Ayeni. The senior All-American won back-to-back conference championships the past two seasons in the discus and is the favorite in both events heading into this weekend. He bettered his own school record with a 59’ 9.75” heave to win the shot put at the Jefferson Dual and threw 197’ 2” at the Lou Onesty just three feet shy of his school record - to win the discus event. Both marks were NCAA regional qualifying throws.

Junior Meghan Briggs and senior All-American Billie-Jo Grant are also regional qualifiers and the favorites to win their respective throwing events this weekend. Briggs, the 2008 ACC Champion in the javelin, won the Jefferson Dual title, throwing 163’ 11”, while Grant, the 2005 ACC Champion in the discus, threw 167’ 8” to beat the competition at the Lou Onesty. Senior Caitlin Kelly, another regional qualifier, will join Grant in the discus competition, as she currently ranks second in the conference, with the winning throw of 163’ 8” from the UVa Spring Swashbuckle.

Other NCAA regional qualifiers include freshmen Andrew Fahringer and Tara Karin in the javelin. Each of them rank third in the ACC in their respective competition with Fahringer throwing 208’ 3” at the Jefferson Dual and Karin owning a mark of 143’ 2” from the Raleigh Relays.

On the track, the Cavaliers have two regional qualifiers in the 800m with freshman All-American Lance Roller leading the conference with a time of 1:50.38 ran at the Jefferson Dual, while senior Kevin Tschirhart ranks third in the league with a time of 1:51.29 from the Lou Onesty.

Junior Stephanie Garcia, the 2008 ACC Champion in the steeplechase leads the conference with a regional qualifying time of 10:23.68 from the Raleigh Relays, while junior Samantha Stafford ranks fifth in the conference with an NCAA regional qualifying time of 10:48.21.

Junior Steve Finley and sophomore Andrew Mearns are both ranked in the top-three on the men’s side. Finley holds the second-fastest time in the league, a 9:04.13 regional qualifying performance at the Jefferson Dual, while Mearns ran 9:09.82 at the same meet.

In the 1500m, sophomore Emil Heineking ran a regional time of 3:46.62 at the UVa Spring Swashbuckle the second-fastest time in the ACC this season, while junior Trey Miller ran a regional time in the 5K at the Raleigh Relays, 14:11.68, to rank third in the conference.

Sophomore Ryan Collins ranks third in the 3000m, with a time of 8:23.97 from the Jefferson Dual.

Other regional qualifiers include junior Ayla Smith, who set the program’s 100m hurdles record over the weekend, running 13.65, the sixth fastest time in the ACC. Smith also qualified in the 400m hurdles, running 58.28 at the Raleigh Relays.

At the Jefferson Dual, freshman Morgane Gay qualified in the mile, winning the event in 4:48.63 and sophomore All-American Meikle Paschal hit the mark in the 400m, finishing in 46.99.

At the Lou Onesty this past weekend, senior Andrew Jesien, the 2008 ACC Champion in the 1500m, freshman All-American Sintayehu Taye and Heineking all met the qualifiying standard in the mile run, with Jesien winning the event in 4:02.18, Heineking claiming runner-up honors in 4:04.80 and Taye taking third in 4:05.38.

Following the conference championships, the Cavaliers will head to Philadelphia, Pa., for the annual Penn Relays on April 23-25.

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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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