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State of the Program - Men’s Track and Field

Jordan Scott led the Hoos and will return next season

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championship Photo by Steve Nowland/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

On July 17, Bryan Fetzer, the Director of Virginia Track and Field and Cross Country stepped down and retired from coaching. Fetzer had been in this role for nine years after being an assistant at Harvard, Mississippi State, Cal and Ball State. He also held the lead role at Gardner-Webb and helped the program transition from Division II to Division I.

During his time at the helm, Virginia Track and Field experienced unprecedented success. Fetzer coached six individual NCAA champions and 54 individual ACC champions. In 2017, the Virginia Track and Field team finished 3rd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, their highest ever finish.

Men’s Track and Field Five Year Results

Maybe you already know this, but Track and Field is broken up into two distinct seasons. First is the indoor season, and second is the outdoor season. The team is (largely) the same, but the events are different. For example, the indoor short sprint is 60m and outdoor is 100m. Here are the results in each the last five seasons:

Men’s Track and Field Five-Year Results

Year Indoor Outdoor
Year Indoor Outdoor
2018-19 20th 18th
2017-18 unranked 55th
2016-17 16th 3rd
2015-16 8th 8th
2014-15 23rd 17th

2019 Recap

After a bit of a down year in 2018, the Men’s Track and Field program improved greatly this year. Finishing 20th indoor and 18th outdoor is a fantastic result. The Hoos also finished 5th in the ACC Indoor Championships and 2nd in the ACC Outdoor Championships (which they hosted at Lannigan Field).

As you’d expect with those team finishes, the Hoos also had some very strong individual performances. They were led by Jordan Scott’s NCAA indoor title in the triple jump (he finished second in the outdoor championships), and Scott was the ACC champion in both indoor and outdoor. Scott also won the ACC Outdoor Championship in the long jump, after finishing third in the Indoor Championship.

Here’s a short video about Scott and his struggles.

Some other highlights:

Hilmar Jonsson finished 3rd in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the hammer throw, which is the best ever finish for a Wahoo. He won the ACC Outdoor title in the event after finishing third in the ACC Indoor Championships.

Brenton Foster won the ACC Championship in the High Jump and finished 16th at the NCAA finals.

Ethan Dabb won the ACC Championship in the javelin and finished seventh at the NCAA Championships.

Oghenakpobo Efekoro won the ACC Championship in the shot put and finished fourth in the discus. Nace Plesko finished second in the discus.

Sam Young finished 3rd in the ACC Outdoor Championships in the pole vault.

Brent Demarest finished second in the ACC Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 meters, and finished 16th in the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Virginia actually had six of the top 20 in that event in the ACC Championships, but only Demarest qualified for the NCAAs. Demarest also finished fourth in the 5,000 meters.

Ari Klau finished fourth in the ACC Indoor Championships in the 3,000 meters.

UVA had six All-Americans in 2019:

  • Jordan Scott, Triple Jump, First Team
  • Hilmar Orn Jonsson, Hammer, First Team
  • Ethan Dabbs, Javelin, First Team
  • Oghenakpobo Efekori, Shot Put, Second Team
  • Brenton Foster, High Jump, Second Team
  • Brent Demarest, 10,000 meters, Second Team

2020 Outlook

Key Returners: Jordan Scott, Brenton Foster, Ethan Dabbs, Jordan Willis, Alfred Shirley, Trey Causey, Lachlan Cook, Ari Klau, Sam Young

Take a look at that five-year table above. The 17th ranked finish in 2015 was the highest ever for the program up to that point. Ten years ago, Virginia Track and Field finishing in 3rd place nationally was about as unfathomable as winning a national title in basketball. Obviously, Fetzer’s departure will have a big impact in the future.

For now, however, everything seems ok. The team returns many of the top performers. Scott returns for his senior year, as does Foster. Dabbs will be just a sophomore and has a bright future. Yes, the other three All-Americans are gone, but there’s still talent around.

The top two sprinters for the Hoos are Jordan Willis and Alfred Shirley, and both will be juniors this year. Neither competed in the NCAA championships this year, though Shirley finished 15th in the 400 meters in 2018 and was a second team All-American. He was also second team All-ACC in the 400m hurdles in 2018. Willis finished 12th at the ACC Outdoor Championships in the 400 this year. That duo hold two of the four fastest times ever for the Hoos in the 400 meters.

Freshman Trey Causey had the fourth best high jump and the ninth best long jump. That’ll give Foster and Scott some internal competition this season, as well as (hopefully) keeping Virginia relevant in both events in both the conference and national stage.

Virginia will continue to do well in the distance events, with a number of youngsters making a name for themselves. As mentioned above, six Hoos finished in the top 20 in the 10,000 meters at the ACC Championships. Four return, including Lachlan Cook, who has the fifth fastest time in Virginia history. They also had six in the top 20 in the 5,000 meters, including led by Demarest and Cook. Klau, Harry Monroe, Rohan Asfaw, and Alex Corbett will also continue to compete in the distance events. This group also competes for UVA Cross Country.

Virginia has never been much of a player in the sprints, but a new speedster is going to be on Grounds this fall. Incoming freshman football player Seneca Milledge holds the state HS record in the 100 meters, and his personal best of 10.51 would be the fourth fastest time in Virginia history. There’s no indication that plans to compete for track and field after the football season ends, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented if he did. Another Virginia football player, wide receiver Darnell Pratt, competes for Track and Field, though he did not run as a freshman. Here’s a video that Milledge posted, showing off his track and field success:

The current interim director is former assistant Jason Dunn, however Virginia will likely go out and hire a replacement for Fetzer in the near future. That person will be charged with trying to bring Virginia Track and Field to an even higher level.