BLACKSBURG, Va. -
Redshirt junior Ryan Collins became the first conference performer to win three-straight ACC titles in the 5000m Friday night at the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, while the women's distance medley relay team of junior Morgane Gay, freshman Vanessa Fabrizio, senior Lyndsay Harper and redshirt senior Stephanie Garcia claimed the DMR crown for the Cavaliers for a second-consecutive year, shattering Virginia's 28-year-old program record along the way.
With Collins' third-straight win, the All-American becomes just the 16th ACC student-athlete to win three crowns in an individual track event in the conference's 51-year history of the championship. He is also just the second Cavalier to do so, as former All-American Greg Canty won four-straight 1000-yard titles from 1977-1980.
Collins earned this year's title with a time of 14:07.68, outdistancing NC State's Andrew Colley, who finished runner-up in 14:09.12. Collin's time marks the third-fastest winning time in the 23 years the event has been contested at ACCs and the fastest since Florida State's Andrew Lemoncello set the meet record at 14:00.96 in 2007. The only other winning time faster than Collins' was from the first year of the 5000m championship - 1989 - when Clemson's Yehezkel Halifa ran 14:04.79.
In the women's DMR, Gay led off the relay by completing the 1200m leg in third with a time of 3:27.84. Fabrizio then ran the 400m leg in 56.89 and handed off to Harper in fourth. Harper - a member of the Cavaliers' 2010 DMR ACC Championship squad - made up the distance by turning in the fastest 800m time in the field - 2:08.63 - and led Garcia into the final mile in first place. Garcia completed the remainder of the relay in 4:40.80, helping the Cavaliers shatter the program's 28-year old record with a time of 11:14.15. That time ranks 14th nationally and betters former All-Americans Lisa Welch, Lesley Welch, Lisa Garrett and Jill Haworth's former world record time of 11:19.39 from 1982.
"It's unreal to be a part of both ACC Championship DMR teams," Harper said. "It's a huge honor to even be on the DMR, especially with the talented group of women we have this year. We went into this race with intentions of taking the title and a time that might take us to nationals. A lot of ACC schools have very strong DMR groups right now, so we knew it would be competitive race. It's very exciting to walk away with a win from an event like this that really showcases our distance depth and talent."
"I've been an ACC Champion before, but it means so much more to share it with a relay," Garcia said. "I love these girls and I've been with them for years now, so to see each one really maximize her strengths and give it all for UVa was really inspiring and special. Above all, this couldn't have happened without the entire team screaming and cheering the whole way through. At one point, I heard them chanting 'U-V-A, U-V-A, U-V-A' and I knew that if for some reason I got passed, I would be heartbroken to let everyone down."
Virginia's men's DMR also had an impressive performance to close out events this evening. The quartet of senior Andrew Mearns, sophomore Zach Vrhovac, freshman TJ Hobart and redshirt junior Emil Heineking combined to earn All-ACC honors with a runner-up finish in 9:44.75. Mearns completed 1200m in 3:02.31, while Vrhovac ran 400m in 49.55. Hobart finished 800m in 1:52.07 and Heineking wrapped up the final mile in 4:00.84 to give the Cavaliers a time of 9:44.75.
Virginia also saw seven other Cavaliers score points on the second day of competition. Junior Vincenzo Chiariello scored the first points for the Cavaliers by finishing fifth in the weight throw with a toss of 59' 4.25".
In the women's 5000m, freshman Katherine Walker and junior Anna Corrigan both scored. Walker finished fifth in a personal-best 16:46.02 - the 10th-best performance in UVa history - and Corrigan, despite falling midway through the race, recovered to finish seventh with a personal-best time of 16:57.50.
Sophomore Sean Keveren also picked up points for Virginia in the 5000m, finishing seventh in his best-ever time of 14:24.06. That mark stands as the fifth-best performance in program history.
In field events, Virginia's high jumpers - sophomore Pearl Bickersteth and freshman Emily Kianka - both cleared 5' 7" to score for the Cavaliers. Kianka finished sixth overall, while Bickersteth took seventh.
At the conclusion of six scored events, the Cavalier men sit sixth with 24 points. Virginia Tech leads the competition with 52 points, while Florida State is second with 33. NC State is third with 30.5 points.
On the women's side, Virginia is seventh with 21 points. Clemson is currently in first with 54 points, North Carolina is second with 36 and Virginia Tech rounds out the top three with 28 points.
Throughout today's preliminary events, the Cavaliers secured 10 spots in tomorrow's finals. Sophomore Brett Johnson will lead UVa, as he qualified in both the mile and 800m. Virginia will also be represented in the women's mile and 800m, in addition to the men's 60m hurdles and 400m dash. Women's Mile
Freshman Ariel Karabinus advanced to tomorrow's finals by finishing fifth in her heat and 10th overall with a time of 4:57.17. Karabinus will be among four freshmen in tomorrow's 10-person race. Men's Mile
Johnson and Mearns both qualified for tomorrow's finals in the mile. Johnson will take the top time of 4:05.99 into the 10-person race, while Mearns finished fifth in his heat with the sixth-best time of 4:08.51 heading into tomorrow's event. This will mark the first appearance in the final round of the mile for both Johnson and Mearns. Men's 60m Hurdles
Both Cavaliers competing in the 60m hurdles advanced to tomorrow's finals. Senior Adams Abdulrazaaq won his fifth 60mH race in seven tries this year and will take the top time of 8.80 into tomorrow's race. This will mark the fourth-straight year that Abdulrazaaq has qualified for the finals of the 60m hurdles. Freshman Aaron Shepperd will join Abdulrazaaq in the eight-person race and will be the lone freshman in the field. His personal-best time of 8.06 was the eighth-best preliminary time and is also the fifth-best mark of all-time at UVa. Men's 400m Dash
Junior Kevin Anding advanced to the finals of the 400m for the first time in his career. Anding won his heat and ran the fourth-fastest time of the preliminary round - 48.24. Women's 800m Run
Fabrizio and Harper both advanced to tomorrow's final in the 800m. Fabrizio ran a personal-best time of 2:08.79 - the program's all-time second-best mark - while Harper finished in 2:09.91. Fabrizio won her heat and finished second overall, while Harper was third in her heat and seventh overall. This will mark both Fabrizio and Harper's first appearance in the finals of the event. Men's 800m Run
The Cavaliers advanced two to the men's 800m finals - sophomore Brett Johnson and freshman Anthony Kostelac. Both won their heats to automatically advance. Johnson won the second heat in 1:52.47, while Kostelac won the final heat in 1:50.05. This will be the first time that either Johnson or Kostelac have competed in the finals of the 800m.
In other events throughout the day, junior Erin Wykoff advanced to the finals of the weight throw and finished ninth overall with a personal-best throw of 57' 3.5".
Sophomore Danielle Williams had a personal-best performance in the 200m, as she won her heat in 24.33 - a time that stands third all-time at Virginia.
The Cavaliers will return to action tomorrow to conclude this year's conference championships. Field events are set to begin at 11 a.m., while action on the track will kick off at noon. Saturday Schedule for Virginia Track
W Mile (Noon) - Ariel Karabinus
M Mile (12:10 p.m.) - Brett Johnson, Andrew Mearns
M 60mH (12:50 p.m.) - Adams Abdulrazaaq, Aaron Shepperd
M 400m (1:10 p.m.) - Kevin Anding
W 800m (1:40 p.m.) - Vanessa Fabrizio, Lyndsay Harper
M 800m (1:50 p.m.) - Brett Johnson, Anthony Kostelac
W 3000m (2:20 p.m.) - Rosemary Barber, Anna Corrigan, Chelsea France, Stephanie Garcia, Morgane Gay, Katherine Walker
M 3000m (2:55 p.m.) - Ryan Collins, Taylor Gilland, Emil Heineking, Sean Keveren, Drew Paisley, Andrew Revelle
W 4x400m Relay (3:25 p.m.)
M 4x400m Relay (3:40 p.m.)
Awards Ceremony (4 p.m.) Field
W Shot Put (11 a.m.) - Maureen Laffan, Emily Vannoy, Erin Wykoff
W Triple Jump (11 a.m.) - Dallas Rose
M Shot Put (1:30 p.m.) - Thomas Fuson
M Triple Jump (1:30 p.m.) - Marcus Robinson