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Ripping Rubber and Taking Titles: The Success of Virginia Tech's Track and Field Program

By Grant Mitchell | March 03
Jacory patterson
Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics

It has been a good season for the Hokies.

Whether it was five Virginia Tech runners breaking the four-minute mile barrier in the same race, Jacory Patterson running one of the 40 fastest times in the world this season or Lindsey Butler stealing the Atlantic Coast Conference 800m title with a 2:01.96 performance, good for second in the nation, there have been immense successes for the program this season.

The team is led by Head Coach Dave Cianelli, serving the 20th year of his tenure in Blacksburg since being hired in 2001.

Dave cianelli
Dave Cianelli (Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics)

VT began its season back on January 15th at the Virginia Tech Invitational with a plethora of individual wins and signs of future accomplishment. The Hokies’ roster strikes the perfect balance between experience and youth with large contributions coming from all classes, specifically the sophomores and juniors.

Jacory Patterson has been the standout star this season, winning five of the seven finals that he has participated in. Patterson’s marks of 45.38 in the 400m, 32.61 in the 300m and 20.62 in the 200m make him one of the most dominant competitors in the ACC.

Not too far off the pace is Lafayette, Indiana native Essence Henderson, who currently sits 10th in the NCAA’s shot put rankings. Henderson’s toss of 17.01m was enough to snag the gold at the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite competition and earn her an invite to the national championship meet.

Standout freshmen Sara Killinen, Maxana Grubb and Makhia Jarrett have made immediate contributions in the throws, mid-distance and sprints groups since their arrivals on campus. On the men’s side, Aidan Clark, Cameron Rose and Ethan Mills headline the newcomers that are already making their presence known.

Despite the many triumphs that occurred this season, there was no weekend more special than this past one for the Hokie crew.

The men’s squad took home the team title in a landslide victory while the women claimed fourth place, finishing half of a point above Clemson.

All-ACC performers are listed below.

All-ACC men's team

First place: Jacory Patterson (20.62 200m and 45.38 400m), Bashir Mosavel-Lo (1:48.34 800m), Antonio Lopez Segura (13:49.86 5000m), and the distance medley relay (comprised of Tyler Leeser, Patrick Forrest, David Whitfield and Benjamin Nibbelink).

Second place: Benjamin Nibbelink (7:56.88 3000m), Harrison Rice (5.12m pole vault), Chauncey Chambers (15.92m triple jump) and Tyson Jones (18.75m shot put).

Third place: Ben Fleming (4:00.01 mile), Aidan Clark (2.13m high jump) and Sean Murphy (5350-point decathlon).

Fourth place: Cole Beck (21.01 200m), Fitsum Seyoum (4:00.74 mile), Jacob Rice (5.02m pole vault).

Fifth place: Cole Beck (6.74 60m) and Thierry Siewe Yanga (1:50.36 800m).

Sixth place: Patrick Forrest (47.20 400m), Ethan Mills (4:03.27 mile), Antonio Lopez Segura (8:05.72 3000m) and Elijah Bell (2.07m high jump).

Seventh place: None

Eighth place: Tyler Leeser (4:05.00 mile).

Bashir mosavel lo
Bashir Mosavel-Lo leading the pack (Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics)

All-ACC women's team

First place: Caitlan Tate (53.32 400m), Lindsey Butler (2:01.96 800m) and Rachel Baxter (4.37m pole vault).

Second place: Essence Henderson (16.55m shot put).

Third place: None

Fourth place: Hannah Ballowe (4:44.92 mile).

Fifth place: None

Sixth place: Eszter Bajnok (13.02m triple jump) and Sara Killinen (19.77m weight throw).

Seventh place: Kennedy Dennis (7.49 60m), Caitlan Tate (24.15 200m), Grace Boone (2:05.46 800m), the 4x400m (comprised of Caitlan Tate, Kennedy Dennis, Ariana Rivera and Makhia Jarrett) and Rosie Cicmanec (1.70m high jump).

Eighth place: Laurel Miller (1.65m high jump), Emily Connor (3.77m pole vault), Eszter Bajnok (5.95m long jump) and Ellie Vest (3660-point decathlon).

Lindsey butler
Lindsey Butler (Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics)

Perhaps the most exciting prospect for coach Cianelli’s staff is that both halves of his team are trending upwards: numerous personal records were achieved from the most notable contributors down to the redshirt freshmen that competed unattached.

Virginia Tech has a tradition of producing the nation’s elite under the current regime, boasting 96 all-Americans, 17 NCAA individual champions and six Olympic competitors. With the talent of names such as Patterson and Butler combined with the depth and competitiveness of the roster as a whole, the surface of the track is guaranteed to be burning hot for years to come.