NEW ORLEANS – Virginia’s men’s track and field and cross country program finished 11th in the final standings of the inaugural NCAA Division I John McDonnell Program of the Year Award, as announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
The Cavaliers finished 14th at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, before finishing tied for 47th at the indoor national meet and tied for 48th at the outdoor NCAA Championships, collecting 113 total points in the standings. Oregon, which won the cross country and indoor track and field men’s national titles, finished with five points to win the inaugural John McDonnell Program of the Year Award, while Stanford finished runner-up with 21 points and Florida State was third with 32.5 points.
Virginia’s men wrapped up the year with two Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, including its second-straight cross country title and first-ever outdoor title, while the Cavaliers finished in a program-best third place at the indoor meet. Four Cavaliers won individual conference titles throughout the year, including senior Ryan Foster - who earned the program it’s first-ever individual cross country championship, sophomore Ryan Collins - who won the 5,000-meters indoors, sophomore Adams Abdulrazaaq – who claimed the program its first-ever 110m hurdles title, and senior Yemi Ayeni - who won his third-straight discus title outdoors. Head coach Jason Vigilante was named the ACC Coach of the Year for both cross country and outdoor track and field in just his first year at Virginia.
On the national scene, six Cavaliers earned All-America honors. Sophomore Emil Heineking earned his second-consecutive national honor, becoming Virginia’s first-ever two-time All-American in cross country, while the Cavaliers’ DMR team of freshman Lance Roller, sophomore Meikle Paschal, freshman Sintayehu Taye and senior Andrew Jesien broke the school record and earned All-America honors during the indoor season. Ayeni finished fourth at the outdoor championships to earn his third All-America distinction.
Ayeni also earned the program its first-ever NCAA East Region title, as he won the discus this year. Vigilante was named the NCAA Southeast Region Head Coach of the Year for leading the men’s team to its best-ever finish, sixth-place, at the regional meet.
The John McDonnell Program of the Year Award is named after USTFCCCA Hall of Famer and former Arkansas head coach John McDonnell. McDonnell’s Arkansas teams won a combined 40 National Championships and finished in the top ten in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field in 24 of his 36 seasons in Fayetteville. Five of his teams won the NCAA Triple Crown.
The award is given annually to the most outstanding NCAA Division I men’s cross country/track & field program. The award honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year (spanning the cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field seasons) based on the institution’s finish at the NCAA Division I Championships.
In order to be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for the NCAA Championships. Scoring is based on the team’s finish at each NCAA Division I Championship in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field (i.e. 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 points, 31st = 31 points) with the lowest total score for all three championships combined determining the award recipient.
Virginia and Florida State were the only two ACC programs in the top-16 of the final award standings.