CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Throughout the season, the Virginia track and field team has qualified 26 athletes for the NCAA East Region Championships this Friday and Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. The Cavaliers are sending more competitors this season than any year before, and will be represented in 22 different events. Individuals placing in the top-five of their respective events will automatically qualify for the national meet, to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 11-14.
“It's exciting to have so many of our athletes represented in so many events,” head coach Randy Bungard said. “These student-athletes have earned this opportunity through hitting the regional standards and they understand that it's a new season come Friday and Saturday. If you are at this meet, you have an opportunity to go to the NCAA Championships.
“Having so many representatives at the meet, it's nice to go to a championship of this size and have a Virginia athlete on the track at any given time. The rest of the staff and I are excited to see what happens this weekend.”
Events on Friday will begin with the women’s discus trials and finals at 1 p.m. All-American and school record holder Billie-Jo Grant and Amy Bilmanis will compete in the event, while the men’s school record holder, All-American Yemi Ayeni, will throw the discus on Saturday.
Ayeni and Grant, in addition to Alexa Manning, will also compete in the shot put.
ACC Champion in the javelin, Meghan Briggs, will compete in the javelin on Friday, while Katie Tershel and Rashawnda James qualified for Saturday’s triple jump.
Events on the track will kick off with the 4x100 prelims at 3:30. Racing for the women will be James, Janne’a Bridgeford, Galyn Iloka and Talia Wise, while the men’s squad of Conlon Bonner, Reuben Jones, Adams Abdulrazaaq and Meikle Paschal met the qualifying mark for the relay. Brian Lee will head south with the squad to serve as an alternate.
The quartet has also qualified in other events, with Abdulrazaaq reaching the regional mark in both the 110m and 400m hurdles. Bonner and Jones will compete in the 200m, while Paschal will race the 400m. Greg Nelson joins Abdulrazaaq with a qualifying time in the 400m hurdles.
For the women competing in multiple events, Wise and Bridgeford will also race in the 200m dash. Lauren Echko, the school record holder in the 100m hurdles, will compete in the short hurdles and Huma Husain will run the 800m.
The Cavaliers provide the most depth in the 1500m, placing three distance runners in the event. The ACC’s top performer this season, Andrew Jesien, leads the trio, with Mike Hagos and Kevin Tschirhart also competing.
Lauretta Dezubay and Emil Heineking are set to conclude competition on Friday, racing in the 5000m finals.
Saturday will feature the finals to each of Friday’s preliminary events, in addition to the 3000m steeplechase and the 4x400m relays. ACC Champion Stephanie Garcia and Steve Finley will race in the steeplechase, while the men’s 4x400m relay of Bonner, Lee, Lobb and Paschal qualified for the meet’s finale. Adams, Jordan Orr and Greg Nelson will serve as alternates to the relay.