ACC Track & Field: Awards Announced For 2016 Outdoor Season

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – NCAA gold medalist Filip Mihaljevic of Virginia joins a silver medalist and two bronze medal winners among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s major award recipients for the 2016 Outdoor Track and Field Season.

The accolades, announced Friday morning, were determined by a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Mihaljevic earned ACC Men’s Field Performer of the Year honors, while Florida State’s Kellion Knibb earned the nod as the conference Women’s Field Performer of the Year.

Virginia’s Henry Wynne was voted the ACC Men’s Track Performer of the Year, while Miami’s Shakima Wimbley was selected the top Women’s Track Performer.

Wake Forest’s Robert Heppenstall was voted the ACC Men’s Freshman of the Year, while Florida State’s Shauna Helps was the top women’s rookie.

The ACC Coach of the Year awards went to the two individuals who guided their teams to conference titles, with Virginia Tech’s Dave Cianelli capturing the men’s award and Florida State’s Bob Braman taking honors on the women’s side.

Mihaljevic delivered a school outdoor-record throw of 20.71 meters (67-11.5) to capture the first-ever NCAA gold medal by a Virginia student-athlete in a field event. Mihaljevic followed with a fifth-place discus throw of 60.28 meters in the NCAA finals to claim a second first-team All-America honor. The strong NCAA showing came less than a month after Mihaljevic, a junior from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, earned Most Valuable Men’s Field Performer at the ACC Championships with first-place finishes in both the shot and the discus.

Florida State’s Knibb set both ACC overall and ACC Championship records in the discus throw during a stellar season in which she captured the NCAA silver medal and earned Most Valuable Collegiate Performer accolades at the Penn Relays. The redshirt junior’s ACC-record throw of 61.44 meters (201-7) earned the second-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Knibb broke her own ACC and Jamaican national record of 61.34 meters (201-3), which she achieved at the 2014 NCAA East Preliminaries. In May, Knibb established a new ACC Championship record with a throw of 60.62 meters (198-11) in taking the gold medal at that event.

Virginia’s Wynne encored his NCAA mile gold medal from the indoor season with a bronze medal time of 3:38.35 in the NCAA Outdoor 1500 finals. The Westport, Connecticut, native had earlier led qualifying at the NCAA East Regional Preliminary with a time of 3:46.22, and his time of 3:42.16 took the gold medal at the ACC Championships. Wynne was named the USTFCCCA Male Athlete of the Week following his performance in the Virginia Challenge on April 23, when he ran a school-record time of 3:38.05 that ranked second nationally for the 2016 season.

Miami’s Wimbley earned Most Valuable Women’s Track Performer honors at the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, giving her a season sweep following her ACC Indoor Championships MVP in February. Wimbley took home four gold medals from the ACC Outdoor Championships, including the 200 meters (22.56) and 400 meters (50.90). The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, junior also keyed the Hurricane 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams to first-place finishes. She went on to capture the bronze medal in the 400 at the NCAA Championships with a time of 51.96, and then earned her second first-team All-America honor as part of the Miami 4x400 relay team that posted a seventh-place time of 3:32.24.

Wake Forest’s Heppenstall picked up his second ACC Freshman of the Year award after earning the same honor during indoor season. The Hamilton, Ontario, middle distance runner capped his first collegiate season with an eighth-place finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA Championships, netting first-team All-America honors with a time of 1:51.14. That followed a regular season in which he ranked among the nation’s top 10 with a time of 1:46.92, and an ACC Championship in which he took the gold medal with a time of 1:49.27. 

Florida State’s Helps made her mark at the ACC Championships, taking the gold medal in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.68 to help the Seminoles earn the team championship. Helps was also part of FSU’s 4x100 relay team that placed fourth at the ACC Championships and went on the qualify for the NCAA Championships. Helps, of Belvedere, Jamaica, helped FSU post an ACC 4x100 relay time of 44.84 and a time of 44.66 at the NCAAs.

Virginia Tech’s Cianelli earned his 10th ACC Coach of the Year honor (indoor track & field, outdoor track & field and cross country) after leading his men’s squad to its second ACC Outdoor championship. Buoyed by a historic pole vault performance that saw Virginia Tech sweep the first seven places in last month’s meet at Tallahassee, the Hokies finished with 129 team points and placed 36 points ahead of second-place NC State. Cianelli, who was also named the Southeast Region Men’s Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA, then directed Virginia Tech to an eighth-place finish at last week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. It marked the Hokies’ third top-10 team finish in the last six seasons.

Florida State’s Braman, who claimed his 20th ACC Coach of the Year Award, guided the Seminoles to their fourth women’s conference championship and their second in the last three seasons. FSU finished with 106.5 team points at the ACC Championships, 18.5 ahead of second-place Miami. Braman, who was honored by the USTFCCCA as the South Region Women’s Coach of the Year, oversaw eight individual qualifiers for the NCAA Finals as well as one relay team.