CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -
The Virginia track and field team will compete at the IC4A/ECAC Championships this weekend in Princeton, N.J., beginning Friday and concluding on Sunday. Last season, four Cavaliers won events at the championships to lead Virginia’s men’s and women’s squads to a second place finish overall. This season, 43 Cavaliers will vie for top spots and regional qualifying marks in 54 different events.
Ten Cavaliers will compete in multiple events to mark one of the largest number of competitors that Virginia has ever entered into these championships. The Cavaliers will look to focus on improving their marks to reach NCAA qualifying standards in order to gain entry into the regional meet on May 30-31.
“Going into this meet, our focus is to improve our times, heights and distance,” head coach Randy Bungard said. “We have a number of people that are very close to the regional standards. I like this meet because it is a championship atmosphere and the team is still a focus. That is not to say that we go out to win the meet, but if everyone does what they came here to do, then we will do very well as a team. I think that helps motivate people when it is all said and done. We have been a team-oriented group this year and any form of incentive this point in the season is helpful. I look for some great performances this weekend.”
Two-time IC4A champion in the discus and defending IC4A shot put champion Yemi Ayeni, and senior All-American Billie-Jo Grant, will look to lead Virginia’s throwers. Both have already qualified regionally in both events, and will be joined this weekend by Amy Bilmanis, Cailtin Kelly and Eric Pickle in the discus, while Pickle and Alexa Manning will join Ayeni in the shot put. Manning will also compete in the hammer throw, while Meghan Briggs has qualified for the javelin competition.
Reuben Jones had a solid performance in last year’s championships, winning the 100m, 200m and helping lead Virginia’s 4x100m squad the title. Jones will compete in both the 100m and 200m dashes again this year, while Janne’a Bridgeford will also compete in both. Galyn Iloka and Talia Wise will join Bridgeford in the 200m. Wise will also race the 400m, while Conlon Bonner and Meikle Paschal will compete in the 400m for the men.
Erin Crawford won the 400m hurdle title for Virginia’s women’s squad last year, while this year Keshia Ashe, Kristina Chapman and Ayla Smith will look to bring the title to the Cavaliers for a second-straight season. For the men, Adams Abdulrazaaq will race both the 110m and 400m hurdle races, while Chapman and Lauren Echko will compete in the 100m hurdles.
In distance events, Katie Read is the defending ECAC 5K champion and will look to defend her title again this year. Andy Biladeau, Ryan Collins, Ryan Foster, Emil Heineking and Trey Miller will also compete in the event. Alex Bowman and Lauretta Dezubay will run the 1500m, while Taylor Smith will run the 10K.
Jen Hovland, Huma Husain and Jordan Orr will all compete in the 800m, and three Cavaliers will vie for a top spot in the steeplechase; Steve Finley, Stephanie Garcia and Samantha Stafford.
In field events, Rashawnda James and Marcus Robinson will lead the way, competing in the long and triple jump. Katie Tershel will join the duo in the triple jump, while both Arthur Gennari and Greg Nelson have qualified for the high jump. Katie Darraugh will compete in the pole vault.
The Cavaliers have qualified five relay teams. Both the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams will compete, in addition to the men’s 4x800m squad.
Events are set to begin with the IC4A decathlon at 1 p.m. on Friday. Events on Friday will conclude with the IC4A 10K at 9:15 p.m.