ACC Makes Mark In 2016 NCAA OT&F Championships

Conference student-athletes collect one gold, three silver and five bronze medals

EUGENE, Ore. (theACC.com) – Three top-20 team finishes – along with one gold, three silver and five bronze gold medals – highlighted the Atlantic Coast Conference’s collective showing at the 2016 NCAA Track and Field Championships, which concluded Saturday evening at Hayward Field.

Virginia placed seventh in the overall men’s standings with 20 points, with Virginia Tech just behind in eighth place with 19 to give the ACC two teams among the top-10.

The Virginia men’s finish marked their highest ever in NCAA Outdoor competition.

"It has been an incredible year for our program overall, starting in the fall with our women winning the ACC cross country title for the first time in 33 years then have our men finish it off outdoors with a top-7 finish," UVA head in the coach Bryan Fetzer said. "We will always strive to improve but to put things in perspective, in the last 80 years, UVA has had only two individuals win NCAA titles in track and field and we have had two last five months. As a men's program, since 1934, the team had not ever finished in the top-20 nationally in track and field and we have now done that in three straight seasons (2015 outdoors and 2016 indoors and outdoors), including back-to-back top-8 finishes this year.”

Virginia Tech’s eighth-place team finish was the fourth top-10 showing in program history and first since 2012.

“Finishing in the top-10 was definitely the highlight of the meet,” Hokies head coach Dave Cianelli said. “Torben (Laidig) had a good meet on the first day (with a silver medal in the pole vault). Starting (Friday) with Marek Barta getting third (in discus) was huge, then Tommy (Curtin) running (to a fourth-place finish in the 5,000 meters) was absolutely fantastic. Finishing in the top-10 was our goal, and I’m glad we were able to do that.”

The Miami women had competitors in the women’s high jump, women’s 400m final and women’s 4x400m final in Saturday’s final day of competiton and earned top 10 finishes in each of the three events to move up the scoring ladder. The Hurricanes finished in 16th place with 15 points to lead ACC women’s teams.

“We fell a little short of our goals today, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort,” Miami head coach Amy Deem said. “We will build on what we did well and be stronger next year.”

Twenty-six ACC student-athletes earned first-team All-America honors – 15 in men’s competition and 11 in women’s. Virginia thrower Filip Mihaljevic led the contingent with his shot put throw of 20.71 meters (67-11.5) on opening day that set a Virginia school record and held up for the meet’s lone gold medal by an ACC student-athlete.

Virginia Tech’s Laidig earned his silver medal with a pole vault of 5.55 meters (18-2.5). Miami women’s vaulter Alysha Newman capped her elite season with a silver medal mark of 4.30 meters (14-1.25). 

An ACC record fell in Saturday’s competition when Florida State junior Kellion Knibb delivered a discus throw of 6.44 meters (201-7) to earn a silver medal and break her previous mark of 61.34 (201-3). It was another highlight in a banner season for Knibb, who also set a new meet record at last month’s ACC Championships and earned Most Outstanding Collegiate Performer honors at the Penn Relays in April.

Earning bronze medals on the men’s side were Virginia junior Henry Wynne in the 1,500 meters (3:38.35), North Carolina’s Kenny Selmon (49.56 in the 400 hurdles), Louisville’s Edwin Kibichiy in the 3,000-meters steeplechase (8:30.71) and Virginia Tech’s Barta in the discus (60.96 meters/200-0).

Miami junior sprinter Shakima Wimbley took the bronze in the women’s 400 with a dash of 51.43.

Two ACC student-athletes claimed first-team All-America honors in two individual events. Virginia’s Mihaljevic placed fifth in the discus in addition to his gold medal throw in the shot. NC State senior Alexis Perry became the only competitor in program history to earn All-America honors in both the women’s 100-meter hurdles (fifth place) and the long jump (fourth place).