Sophomore Meikle Paschal was a member of Virginia track and field’s distance medley relay that earned All-America honors with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend. Paschal, running the 400m leg of the relay, was joined by freshmen Sintayehu Taye and Lance Roller and senior Andrew Jesien to form the quartet that broke the all-time program record with their 9:29.86 time that won the Alex Wilson Invitational and automatically qualified them for the national championships.
The Cavaliers open their outdoor season this weekend hosting the UVa Spring Swashbuckle on Saturday. Field events start at 8 a.m., with running events starting on the track at noon.
Question: You earned your first-ever All-America honor this past weekend, helping Virginia to a sixth-place finish in the DMR at NCAAs. What was that race like?
Paschal: The race was intense and quick. With so much talent in the same race, anyone has the potential to win so people were pushing each other around left and right at the handoff exchange. You wouldn’t think a bunch of skinny track guys would push each other around so much but they do have some sharp elbows.Question: How much does the All-American distinction mean to you? Especially earning it so early in your career?
Paschal: It’s really exciting to receive such an honor at such an early stage. God has truly blessed me to be able to compete for such an amazing team and at the NCAA Championships. The recognition is something I’m very proud of because just to make it to the NCAA Championships is hard enough but to be a top placer puts things in perspective. We have people who can be conference champions and this displays a lot of promise for our team in the coming seasons.Question: What was the atmosphere at the championships like?
Paschal: Seeing people from so many parts of the country emphasized that I was not on my home court. The atmosphere made me feel that we had one chance to make our first impression on the rest of the country. It was definitely electrifying to race with people I’ve seen at the Olympic trials and past championships.Question: The relay team broke the school record not long ago, how does it feel to be a school record holder too?
Paschal: To be a name in the record books at Virginia makes me very proud. This school has so many athletes and teams that honor the University through records and championships. To be able to run a time that nobody has ever done before reflects the training and hard work of my team and coaches.Question: How would you summarize the indoor season? How do you feel the season as a whole went?
Paschal: The season was surprisingly more successful than I had anticipated. With the injury of one our jumpers, a lot of people thought we would get crushed at the conference meet. The opposite happened and a lot of people stepped up and we were able to have our best finish in program history. The indoor season told us a lot about our team and the best part is that we are an even better outdoor team so good things are to come.Question: Looking forward to this weekend’s outdoor opener, what are your goals for that season?
Paschal: This outdoor season I’m excited because now I have a lot more experience from the past three seasons of track. I’m setting my sights on placing top-three again in the conference championships. We want to be a top-three team in the conference and with a growing team it’s beginning to seem possible. I also have my eyes on the 400 meter outdoor record, but we’ll see how that goes.Question: Do you prefer one season over the other, indoor or outdoor?
Paschal: I love outdoor. Indoor tracks are too small for me. I’m 6-2 and a little goofy looking when I run, I need more space. On an indoor track the turns slow me down whereas on an outdoor track I have a lot more space to extend my stride.Question: How has the transition with this new coaching staff been?
Paschal: The transition with the coaching staff was very smooth. The coaches have already made tremendous improvements within the program within our first conference performance, finishing third. All of our coaches possess knowledge of what it is like to compete at high level meets, which will help our team to take our athleticism to the next level.