The University of Virginia Cavalier track and field team gears up this weekend to host the Lou Onesty/Milton G. Abramson Invitational, which begins Friday at 1:30 p.m.
The Cavalier women enter the meet ranked No. 17 in the nation after their winning performance at last weekend’s Jefferson Cup dual versus the University of Missouri. This accomplishment marks the first time the Cavaliers have been ranked in the top-20 in over 10 years behind the strength of Virginia’s distance runners and throwers.
Ten different competitors who have each registered national top-55 performances so far this season have led the team to this ranking, including three runners in the 10,000m and four in the throws. The Cavaliers look to continue producing powerful performances in each of these events this weekend.
Emily Harrison, Kara Scanlin and Katie Read hold national rankings in the 10,000m. Harrison, who holds the top ranking in the ACC, is ranked 5th nationally with a time of 33:40.34. Scanlin and Read are ranked second and third, respectively, in the ACC, and ninth and 11th nationally.
Billie-Jo Grant enters this weekend’s competition ranked No. 1 nationally for her school record-breaking discus throw of 56.07m. The throw also broke the ACC’s all-time record. Ayla Smith is ranked ninth in the nation in the 400m hurdles while teammate Stephanie Garcia is ranked 11th in the steeplechase.
Notably on the men’s side, volunteer assistant coach and the most decorated shot putter in history, Adam Nelson will be competing in a special championship section of the men’s shot put. This meet will mark his first of the 2008 outdoor season in his quest to make his third Olympic team.
Though two-time Olympic silver medalist Nelson is arguably the most celebrated shot putter in recent history, he has yet to claim Olympic gold. With his throw of 73’ 6” in the indoor season, he lays claim to the third farthest throw in the history of indoor track and field, and he can set his sights on this year’s gold in China.
The special men’s championship shot put event will feature three additional NCAA All-Americans. The event will be held at noon on Saturday.
The men’s team, though not ranked, also features seven athletes ranked individual in the top-55 rankings of the nation. Most notably, Yemi Ayeni will be going into the invitational this weekend ranked ninth in the nation in the discus with a throw of 59.09m.
The competition will begin with the women’s hammer throw today at 1:30 p.m. The men will follow at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, field events will begin with the men’s discus at 9 a.m., while events on the track are scheduled to take place beginning with the women’s steeplechase at 11 a.m. The men’s 4x400m relay will wrap up competition at 6:05 p.m.