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NATIONAL CHAMP! Michaela Meyer wins first in 800m race at NCAA Championships

Plus, Knight wins bronze in the 400m hurdles!

Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Virginia graduate student Michaela Meyer brought home some hardware from the NCAA Track & Field Championship, winning first place in the 800m race. Meyer set a school-record pace as she completed the event in a blistering 2:00.28 and became the first female runner to win an NCAA title in track and field.

The speedy 2:00.28 wasn’t just a school record, it was a new personal best for Meyer. “I am just so grateful for this opportunity and I’m happy to be representing Virginia,” Meyer said after the race. “It is an amazing feeling. I am beyond grateful,” Her time is the ninth best best in NCAA history, and she edged out Clemson’s Laurie Barton — who won the same event in the ACC Championships — for the NCAA title.

“I started the same way all of my races do and I knew that I wanted to stay in the top pack and if I were able to stay up there the first lap I knew I would have a chance to contend for the title. With about 150 (meters) to go, I knew it was now or never, so I just went for it and I gave it my all,” Meyer stated. “I was just running my own race. I didn’t know the schools that were around me or the people that were around me. I knew I wanted to run my race and to kick with 100 to go and see what happened.”

Virginia’s director of track and field and cross country, Vin Lananna, had great advice for the speedy runner, telling her to stay out in her lane (Lane 8) as long as possible to avoid the crowd of runners jostling for position.

“Everybody was going to vying for the same spot. I wanted her to sit in second place and for her to stay on the outside for as long as she had to in order to get up to second place,” Lananna explained. “And then I just told her to wait and be patient and when she felt like the time was right to make the move and roll that last 50. That’s what she did.”

Meyer wasn’t the only Cavalier to reach the podium on Saturday as fellow grad student Andrenette Knight placed third in the 400m hurdles.

Both runners earned First Team All-America status for their finishes, and the Virginia women finished tied for 16th in the team event — the best finish for the Hoos since 1983.