FAIRFAX, Ga. – Championships aren't built overnight, they need solid foundations on which to build upon.
That's exactly what the VCU men's track & field squad has been doing over the past two seasons under Head Coach Jon Riley and his staff. The Rams showed their foundation in the throwing events this weekend at the CAA Championships en route to a fifth-place showing at the conference meet.
George Mason won their third straight title, outscoring the rest of the field by over 100 points. The Black & Gold finished with 102 points, just 20 points away from the third-place slot.
"I'm so proud of both squads," Riley said. "Everyone surrounding the program worked tirelessly this weekend to help the athletes perform to their absolute best. We had a number of personal and season best and everyone chipped in whether they scored or not. Today, we became the team I've always envisioned."
45 of VCU's 102 points came from the throwing events led by freshman Brandon Ruffin who took home the shot put title and a second-place showing in the discus. The Chesapeake, Va. native unleashed a toss of 55' 2 ½" to win the shot put by a foot-and-a-half. He coupled that with a 155' 11 ¼" heave in the discus to take home second-place and another eight points.
"Brandon had a monumental performance today to win the shot put as a freshman and take second in the discus," Riley said. "He really has a bright future and will continue to work to achieve new heights as he is only scratching the surface of his ability now."
Junior Frank Afriyie was just as critical for the Rams, scoring in three different throwing events, highlighted by his third-place showing in the discus (153' 2 ¼"). He also finished fifth in the hammer throw and sixth in the shot put to tally a total of 13 points on the weekend.
"Frank really stepped up at key times when his teammates needed some momentum to feed off of," Riley said. "His performances were spectacular and vital to the team."
Another freshman Ryan Coles rounded out the stellar throwing performances with fourth-place finishes in both the shot put and the discus for a total of 10 points.
The throws wasn't the only area that VCU found success with junior Alex Hinton blistering the track for second-place finish in the 800-meter with a personal best of 1:51.33.
"Alex really worked hard this season to better himself, which is why he was able to rise to the occasion this weekend," Riley said. "He really made a great push down the last stretch of the race for a second-place finish, just missing the top spot by a couple hundredth of a second."
Senior Cameron Morse rounded out VCU's top-three performances as the veteran closed out his career with a 53.73 time in the 400-meter hurdles, good for six points for his squad.