CORAL GABLES, Fla.
Junior Steve Finley finished runner-up in the 3000m steeplechase to lead the Virginia track and field teams at the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships on Friday at Cobb Stadium on the University of Miami’s campus.
Finley’s runner-up finish in 8:59.74 and sophomore Andrew Mearns’ fourth-place finish in 9:09.71 in the steeplechase collected 13 points for the Cavaliers to push Virginia into second place at the conclusion of day two with 49 points. Florida State leads the men’s side with 63 points, with Virginia second and Duke rounding out the top three with 40 points.
“Our men had a very solid day,” head coach Jason Vigilante said. “We advanced eight people to tomorrow’s finals and are in excellent shape heading into the final day. We’ve done a great job staying competitive and near the top of the conference and we aim to have a great day in the finals tomorrow.
“Steve Finley had a disappointing round in the preliminaries of the 1500m, but came back a few hours later and finished second in the steeplechase. Andrew Mearns lost his shoe 300m into the steeplechase and still finished fourth. Those are the efforts our whole team needs to look at and continue to be inspired by. Tomorrow we will do our best to represent the University of Virginia and be pleased with how hard we’ve competed at this championship.”
For the women, junior Stephanie Garcia finished fourth in the steeplechase in 10:28.38 and junior Samantha Stafford finished seventh in 10:47.75 to pull the Cavaliers within two points of third place. North Carolina leads the women’s teams with 52 points, while Virginia Tech is second with 40. Florida State sits third with 39 points and the Cavaliers are fourth with 37 heading into the final day.
“Today on the women’s side, we advanced five athletes to tomorrow’s finals and I’m really happy about our point totals and where we stand thus far in the meet,” Vigilante said. “Our ladies have been competing hard and I am extremely proud. Stephanie Garcia recovered really well from a hard fall in the steeplechase and still managed to finish fourth. That’s the type of determination we’ve been seeing from our entire team. I’m really looking forward to watching everyone compete tomorrow.”
In today’s preliminary events, behind dual qualifying performances from junior Ayla Smith, sophomore Adams Abdulrazaaq and freshman Morgane Gay, the Cavaliers advanced 10 competitors to tomorrow’s finals.
Gay won the women’s 1500m in 4:27.42 to start the day before qualifying for the 800m finals by winning her heat in 2:08.70 qualifying for regionals in both events, while Smith and Abdulrazaaq advanced in both hurdle events.
Smith bettered her already school record in the 100m hurdles finishing in 13.51, before qualifying in the 400m hurdles, running 58.93. Abdulrazaaq ran 14.29 in the 110m hurdles an NCAA regional qualifying time - before finishing the 400m hurdles in 53.07.
Joining Smith in the 100m hurdles tomorrow will be sophomore Chidi Uche, who finished in 13.84 the program’s fourth fastest time and an NCAA regional qualifying mark. Uche also met the regional standard in the 400m hurdles, running 1:00.41.
Virginia qualified three in the 800m, with Gay advancing in the women’s event, while sophomore Andrew Lobb and freshman Lance Roller advanced for the men. Lobb finished in 1:50.57 and Roller completed the race in 1:52.60.
In the 400m, sophomore Meikle Paschal advanced by winning his heat in 47.59.
A trio of Cavaliers advanced to the finals in the men’s 1500m, led by junior Kevin Tschirhart’s 3:51.45 finish. Freshman Sintayehu Taye crossed the line in a time of 3:51.70 and senior Andrew Jesien the defending 1500m ACC Champion - rounded out the trio with a 3:58.12 finish.
In today’s finals, sophomore Greg Nelson finished sixth in the high jump, clearing 6’ 8.25”, while senior Yemi Ayeni finished sixth in the shot put with a throw of 56’ 9.25”. Freshman Maureen Laffan rounded out those scoring for Virginia, finishing eighth in the shot put with a throw of 46’ 0”.
Virginia will return to action tomorrow to conclude competition at the conference championships. Events will begin at 1 p.m., and conclude with an awards ceremony at 8:10 p.m.All-ACC Performers
Steve Finley 3000m SteeplechaseCavaliers Qualified for Tomorrow's Finals
Morgane Gay - 1500m
Andrew Jesien - 1500m
Sintayehu Taye - 1500m
Kevin Tschirhart - 1500m
Ayla Smith - 100m hurdles
Chidi Uche - 100m hurdles
Adams Abdulrazaaq- 110m hurdles
Meikle Paschal 400m
Morgane Gay 800m
Andrew Lobb 800m
Lance Roller 800m
Ayla Smith 400m hurdles
Adams Abdulrazaaq 400m hurdles