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June 15, 2011

Ziegler and Habazin claim national titles at NCAA Championships

By: Jimmy Robertson

Alexander Ziegler and Dorotea Habazin became the fourth and fifth student-athletes at Virginia Tech to win national championships after both won their individual hammer throw events at the NCAA Championships held in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 8-11.

Their accomplishments give Tech 10 national championships – all in track and field and five in the hammer throw.

Behind Ziegler and 10 All-Americans among the Hokie men’s contingent, the Tech men’s squad finished in fifth place with 36 points – the program’s highest finish ever. Texas A&M won the national title with 55 points, one point ahead of Florida State.

Habazin and Samira Burkhardt, who finished fifth in the shot put with a new school record of 56 feet, 1 inch (17.09 meters), earned All-America honors for the women’s team and accounted for the team’s scoring. The Tech women finished tied for 20th with 14 points. Texas A&M also won the women’s national title.

“It was a fantastic national meet for Virginia Tech,” said Dave Cianelli, Tech’s Director of Track and Field. “This performance shows we continue to be one of the elite programs in the nation. I must congratulate each of our coaches and staff as they prepared our athletes so well for this meet.”

Ziegler won in thrilling fashion. He was in second place behind teammate Marcel Lomnicky heading into his sixth and final attempt, and he trailed Lomnicky by almost a foot before throwing a career-best 72.69 meters (238 feet, 6 inches). Lomnicky’s best throw was 72.35 meters (237 feet, 4 inches), thus enabling Ziegler to capture his first national title.

Habazin tossed the hammer 68.15 meters (223 feet, 7 inches) on her third throw and made it stand, just missing her own school record by six inches. She beat Southern Illinois’ Jeneva McCall by 16 inches and Georgia’s Nikola Lomnicka – Marcel’s sister and the 2010 national champion – by nearly 11 feet.

The Hokies nearly saw another of their own crowned as a national champion, as Matthias Treff finished second in the javelin. He set a school and an ACC record on his second throw, which went 245 feet, 5 inches. That broke the school record of 242 feet, 9 inches set by Jacobus Smit in 2005 and the ACC record of 243 feet, 6 inches set by Virginia’s Brian Kollar in 2001.

Treff’s final throw of 255 feet, 6 inches pushed him into second place behind Illinois State’s Tim Glover, who won the gold with a toss of 263 feet, 6 inches.

The remaining seven All-America performances included:

• Joe Davis, a senior from Sarasota, Fla., earned his first All-America nod, as he finished eighth in the polo vault, setting a personal best with a vault of 17 feet, 2.5 inches.

Ronnie Black was an All-American in the high jump, finishing tied for seventh. He made it past the first three heights, but faltered at 7 feet, 1.5 inches (2.17 meters). Still, he became the first Tech All-American in the high jump.

• Hasheem Halim and David Wilson became the first Tech All-Americans in the triple jump since 1987. Halim came in fourth place with a new personal-best jump of 53 feet, 3.75 inches (16.25 meters) that came on his fifth attempt. Wilson finished sixth, jumping a personal-best 53 feet, 1.75 inches (16.20 meters) on his third attempt.

Wilson became the third Tech football player to earn All-America honors in track and field. Dennis Scott was fifth in the 60-yard dash at the 1978 indoor championships and Kenny Lewis was third in the 60-yard hurdles at the 1980 NCAA indoor meet.

• Hunter Hall was a second-team All-American with the same vault as Davis. Hall, though, finished 11th after clearing that height on his second attempt, leading to second-team honors.

• Michael Hammond was a second-team All-American after finishing 14th in the 1,500 with a time of 3:49.45.

• Denis Mahmic finished 14th in the hammer throw and earned second-team honors.