BLACKSBURG, Va. – In the practices and meets leading up to this past weekend's Virginia Tech Challenge, the coaching staff of the Virginia Commonwealth University track & field program focused on using the meet as a breakout weekend.
Since the meet would bring together powers from the ACC and fellow CAA foes, the Rams saw it as an important to compete against some of the region's best squads.
After spending 48 hours in Blacksburg, it's safe to say "mission accomplished" as the Black & Gold reeled off over 25 top-10 finishes, broke five school records, posted 14 personal bests and qualified for the ECAC/IC4A Championships 13 times.
"My staff and I are incredibly pleased with the effort and intensity our athletes put into this weekend," Head Coach Jon Riley said. "This meet was a big focus for our indoor season and I really feel we were able to accomplish some great things. I can't wait to see how our squads continue to develop heading into the outdoor season."
The biggest star of the weekend was junior Rachel Montague, who had her hand in three different record-breaking performances. After breaking the record in the 60-meter hurdles on Friday, the Marlton, N.J. native unleashed a leap of 39' 9 ¼" in the triple jump to break the school-record by over three inches and also qualify for the ECAC Championships.
Her weekend wrapped up as she teamed with Quina Fortune, Niaimani Aduma and Jazlynn Finney to shave off three seconds from the school record in the 4x400 meter relay. The quartet finished second in the event and qualified for the ECACs.
"Rachel was awesome this weekend," Riley said. "We're all finally seeing all of her talent come through and we all expect to see a lot of big things for her in the near future."
Junior Nicole Walters joined Montague as a record-breaker on Saturday, clocking in at 2:13.94 in the 800-meter run. The time also qualified her for the ECACs.
On the men's side, senior Joe Edwards led five different Rams to personal bests and IC4A qualifying marks. Edwards blasted his way to a mark of 47' 10 ½" in the triple jump. Classmate Antonio Norvell accomplished the same feat, but in the long jump with a mark of 23' 4".
The Black & Gold used the 1000-meter run to post two personal bests and two IC4A qualifying marks. Sophomore Alex Hinton clocked in at 2:28.78, while junior Tyler Simmons wasn't far behind at 2:28.98. Both times earned spots in the top-10 for the Rams.
Sophomore Dominic Costanzo continued his outstanding indoor season with another personal best with a time of 48.81 in the 400-meter dash, good enough for third-place and a spot in the IC4A Championships.
The Rams will take next weekend off before heading to the Reggie Lewis Track & Field Center in Boston, Mass. to compete in the IC4A/ECAC Championships.