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June 15, 2011

Virginia Tech Athletics Department Overall Athletes of the Year

By: Jimmy Robertson

Dorotea Habazin
Senior • Throws
Zagreb, Croatia

After coming up just short in her attempt to win a national championship last year, Dorotea Habazin made sure to take advantage of her final opportunity.

Habazin concluded her incredible career by claiming her first national championship and becoming the fifth Tech student-athlete to win a national championship – all in track and field (Alexander Ziegler, Queen Harrison, Marcel Lomnicky and Spyridon Jullien). She also gave Tech its 10th national championship, five in the hammer throw.

As a result of that, and her exploits during the indoor season, Inside Hokie Sports named Habazin and Ziegler, who won the men’s hammer throw event, as its 2010-11 athletes of the year. According to magazine criteria, national champions are automatically athletes of the year.

Habazin and Ziegler became the 14th and 15th student-athletes to receive this recognition dating back to when the publication started naming athletes of the year. They join a list of winners that includes Queen Harrison, Marcel Lomnicky, Angela Tincher (twice), Spyridon Jullien (twice), Kevin Jones, Bryant Matthews, Lee Suggs, André Davis, Corey Moore, Katie Ollendick, Jim Druckenmiller and Cornell Brown.

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 6 inches. She beat Southern Illinois’ Jeneva McCall by 16 inches and Nikola Lomnicka – Marcel’s sister and the 2010 national champion – by nearly 11 feet.

The gold medal capped a great senior season for Habazin. In April, she won the ACC crown in the hammer with her record toss of 68.36 meters (224 feet, 3 inches), which was more than 42 feet beyond the second-place finisher. She broke the ACC mark of 220 feet, 6 inches by nearly four feet.

She also won a silver medal in the weight throw at the ACC’s indoor meet with a toss of 19.72 meters (64 feet, 8.5 inches). She finished 17th at the NCAA indoor championships in early March.

She will leave Tech as arguably the best women’s field athlete in school history. She is a three-time All-American and won four ACC titles – three in the hammer throw.

Alexander Ziegler
Sophomore • Throws
Dischingen, Germany

Alexander Ziegler stood in the shadow of his teammate for the entire track and field outdoor season.

But at the sport’s signature event – the NCAA Championships – Ziegler stepped out of the shadow and into the spotlight all by himself.

Ziegler pulled off the upset at the NCAA Championships when he beat teammate Marcel Lomnicky in the hammer throw on his final attempt. He won his first national championship and joined the list of elite Tech track and field athletes to win a national championship.

Ziegler was in second place behind Lomnicky heading into his sixth and final attempt. He trailed Lomnicky by almost a foot, but he threw a career-best 72.69 meters (238 feet, 6 inches). Lomnicky then came up for the final throw of the meet, needing to exceed that mark and surpass his best throw of the competition, which was 72.35 meters (237 feet, 4 inches). But Lomnicky only threw the hammer 71.29 meters (233 feet, 10 inches), enabling Ziegler to take the gold.

Ziegler also excelled during the indoor season, winning the ACC title in the weight throw for the second straight year, throwing it 21.45 meters (70 feet, 4.5 inches). He then finished second at the NCAA Championships in the weight throw with a toss of 21.27 meters (69 feet, 9.5 inches).

Though not as well known among Hokie faithful, Ziegler has easily established himself as one of the great throwers in Tech history.