Ayeni Defends ACC Championship Title in Discus; Jesien Wins 1500m

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
ATLANTA, Ga. - Defending ACC Champion and All-American, junior Yemi Ayeni, opened the final day of the 2008 ACC Outdoor Championships for the Virginia track and field team winning the discus. The senior threw an NCAA regional qualifying throw of 57.45m to win the event and lead the Cavalier men to a fourth place finish at the championships. Junior Andrew Jesien also claimed an ACC Championship, winning the 1500m, while Janne’a Bridgeford (200m), Billie-Jo Grant (discus), Andrew Lobb (800m), Meikle Paschal (400m) earned All-ACC honors. The men collected 94.50 points, two shy of third place, while the women, running without some of their top athletes, finished fifth with 92 points.

“I was proud of the way that both our men and women competed today,” head coach Randy Bungard said. “We came into the meet wanting to score 100 points on each side, but came up just a little short of our goal. The ACC Championships are a give and take, though. We had some people really step up and do something big and I think in the moment of competition, everyone competed very hard, so I’m happy with our results.”

Ayeni led the Cavaliers to a strong start in the final day of competition, and Eric Pickle helped lead Virginia to a short stint at the top by adding another four points to the Cavaliers’ score in the discus. On his last attempt, he threw a personal-best throw of 49.00m to move into fifth place.

A fifth-place finish by Conlon Bonner, Reuben Jones, Brian Lee and Adams Abdulrazaaq in the 4x100m relay bumped the Cavaliers up a spot before a strong performance by Andrew Jesien and Andy Biladeau in the 1500m propelled the Cavaliers into first overall. Jesien won the event in an NCAA regional qualifying time of 3:45.62 and Biladeau finished fifth in a time of 3:49.87.

The Cavaliers relinquished their lead to the eventual ACC Champions, Florida State, after the distance event, though.

All-ACC performers Meikle Paschal and Andrew Lobb led the Cavaliers throughout the rest of the day to a fourth place finish. Paschal took third in the 400m dash in an NCAA qualifying time of 46.61, while Lobb finished third in the 800-meters. Lobb finished in a time of 1:50.43, right ahead of teammate Jordan Orr, who finished fourth in 1:50.89.

Adams Abdulrazaaq placed in the 400m hurdles, and qualified for the NCAA regional meet, with a time of 52.13. Reuben Jones was also a top finisher, taking eighth place in the 200m dash in 21.76.

The men’s 4x400m relay team of Bonner, Lee, Lobb and Paschal rounded out the day with a fifth place finish in an NCAA qualifying time of 3:09.28.

The women’s side saw two Cavaliers earn All-ACC honors, while five qualified for the NCAA regional meet.

Senior All-American Billie-Jo Grant finished third in the discus with a qualifying mark of 51.09m and Janne’a Bridgeford took second in the 200m dash to also pick up a regional qualifying mark, both en route to earning All-ACC honors in their respective events. Bridgeford crossed the line in 23.69 and Talia Wise joined Bridgeford with a qualifying mark in the 200-meters, as the junior crossed the line in fourth with a time of 23.90.

Ayla Smith and Katie Tershel round out those who regionally qualified, as Smith took fifth in the 400m hurdles with a time of 58.79 and Tershel finished fifth in the triple jump with a leap of 12.39m.

Other top finishers include Katie Read’s fourth place finish in the 5000m, in a time of 16:54.11. Jones and Bridgeford both placed in the 100m dash, each taking seventh. Jones finished in a time of 10.82, while Bridgeford finished in 12.11.

In field events, Marcus Robinson finished eighth in the triple jump (14.61m) and David Lewis took eighth in the pole vault, clearing 4.85m. Amy Blmanis collected an eighth place finish in the discus, with a throw of 46.12m and in the triple jump, both Rashawnda James and Tershel picked up top finishes. While Tershel was fifth, James finished seventh with a jump of 11.92m.

The women’s 4x400m relay of Kristina Chapman, Ayla Smith, Bridgeford and Wise finished the day for Virginia with an eighth place finish in 3:46.84.

“When the meets over, you want to feel as if you competed in a way that you don’t feel the need to look back and figure out where you could have done better,” Bungard said. “I think the other coaches summed it up best when they said our runners were all over the track’. We didn’t score well in just one area; it was overall a full team effort. I think that’s what makes us a strong track and field team.”

The Cavaliers will compete this weekend at the Penn Relays. Events will begin on Thursday in Philadelphia, Pa., and conclude on Saturday.