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June 11, 2013

Tech's top ten of the past year

By: Jimmy Robertson

Here are the top 10 moments of the 2012-13 academic year as compiled by the magazine staff, with help from several in the athletics communications office:

1. Ziegler, Kruzliak claim national titles

Alexander Ziegler and Tomas Kruzliak continued Tech’s excellence in track and field throwing events, as both won national titles this past year for the men’s track and field program.

Competing in his last collegiate event, Ziegler won with the weight throw event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held in Fayetteville, Ark., in early March. His top throw of 73 feet, 8.25 inches (22.46 meters) stood for the final three rounds.

Kruzliak, a freshman from Nitra, Slovakia, dominated the competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Championships in Eugene, Ore., in early June. He recorded a throw of 226 feet, 1 inch (68.92 meters) on his first attempt and then increased that mark to 227 feet, 3 inches (69.26 meters) on his second attempt. His second throw turned out to be the winner, as no other competitor threw the hammer more than 69 meters.

With their two national championships, they gave the track program its 13th and 14th individual national champions – 11 in throwing.

2. Tech claims ACC indoor track title

Will Mulherin’s victory in the 3,000-meter run late at the ACC Championships propelled the Tech men’s indoor track and field team past Florida State and to the ACC team title. It also marked the third team title in a row for the Hokies, who won the ACC’s outdoor crown last spring and the cross country title last fall.

The 3,000 was the next-to-last event in the meet and Tech led by just a few points. But Mulherin held off Florida State’s Jakub Zivec to win by just two-tenths of a second and garner enough points to allow the Hokies to hold off the Seminoles by 17 points.

The Hokies also got huge victories from Thomas Curtin (5,000-meter run), Tihut Degfae (800), Alexander Ziegler (weight throw), Jeff Artis-Gray (long jump) and Stephan Munz (pole vault).

The men’s indoor title marked the Hokies’ second since joining the ACC.

3. Marone lifts Tech wrestling team to ACC crown

In the last match of the ACC Wrestling Championships, Tech senior David Marone dominated Virginia heavyweight Derek Papagianopoulos, and that victory lifted the Hokies to their first ACC team title.

Tech trailed Virginia by 10 points going into the finals. But Jarrod Garnett won at 125 pounds and Nick Brascetta, Jesse Dong and Pete Yates won at 149, 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. Virginia had three finalists lose, which set up the final between Marone and Papagianopoulos. Marone won 8-0, and Tech’s bench poured onto the mat in College Park, Md., to celebrate the title.

Tech had finished second on two occasions at the ACC Championships (2006 and 2011). The Hokies won their first conference crown since 1998 when it competed in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the ACC title marked the program’s 10th overall conference title dating back to 1955.

4. Men’s cross country team wins ACC title

Paced by redshirt senior Will Mulherin and getting top-10 performances from sophomores Brayden Burleigh and Thomas Curtin, the Virginia Tech men’s cross country team stunned the ACC by winning the cross country title at the ACC Championships held in Blacksburg – their first team title as a member of the league.

Mulherin became the first runner ever at Tech win an individual championship. He led the field with a course-record time of 23:37.3. It was the top time of the season for him. Burleigh and Curtin both finished with times under 24 minutes for the first time in their careers.

Thanks to their team championship at the ACC meet, the Hokies advanced to the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time since 1987.

5. Zagunis’ blast lifts Tech over FSU at ACC Baseball Championship

The Virginia Tech baseball team enjoyed one of its best seasons ever, advancing to the championship game of the ACC Championship and securing home games for the NCAA regionals. But the Hokies would not have gotten to that championship game without a dramatic home run from Mark Zagunis.

In the second game of pool play, Tech led 2-0 before Florida State scored two in the ninth to tie the game. But with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Zagunis drilled a pitch from FSU reliever Gage Smith into the left field seats for the game-winning home run. Tech won the game 3-2 and beat Georgia Tech the next day before falling to North Carolina 4-1 in the title game.

The win over the Seminoles marked Tech’s third over them this season. Florida State spent much of the season ranked in the top 10 nationally.

6. Harrell carries Tech in NCAA softball regional win over Marshall

The Virginia Tech softball team made it to the NCAA regionals for the second straight year (and sixth overall), and the Hokies faced a must-win game against Marshall on the second day of the regional to advance to the regional championship.

The two teams played 13 innings before Tech scored a run on Bkaye Smith’s single in the bottom of the 13th to win 3-2 over the Thundering Herd. But the story of the game was Tech starting pitcher Jasmin Harrell.

The senior from Irvine, Calif., pitched all 13 innings, setting a school single-game record. She also set a career high with 13 strikeouts and tossed 186 pitches in all – 121 of them for strikes. She did not allow a run after the fifth inning.

Tech’s thrilling run in the NCAA came to an end with a 1-0 loss to Kentucky in the final game. In that game, Harrell gave up just one unearned run in a losing effort to end a 38-21 season for the Hokies.

7. Green’s career high helps Tech stun No. 15 Oklahoma State

Tech guard Erick Green set his career high on numerous occasions this past season, but the first time came in the Hokies’ upset victory over visiting Oklahoma State.

Green scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half, including eight free throws in the final 1:16, to lift the Hokies to an 81-71 victory, giving Tech its first win over a ranked nonconference foe since 1995 and its first over a ranked nonconference opponent at Cassell Coliseum since 1978.

Green set his career high five different times this past season. He went on to become the ACC’s player of the year, and he led the nation in scoring at 25 points per game.

8. Tech women stun No. 19 Florida State in hoops

The Tech women’s basketball team struggled for much of the season, but the Hokies pulled off a shocker on Feb. 24 when they rolled past Florida State 71-52 at Cassell Coliseum.

A 14-0 run early in the first half gave Tech a lead it would not relinquish. Monet Tellier scored 24 points, including the 1,000th of her career, and she also dished out six assists in her best game of the season. Uju Ugoka added 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Hokies, who struggled to score for much of the season, shot 46.7 percent from the floor and made four 3-pointers. The win marked Tech’s lone win over a ranked opponent this past season.

9. Journell’s kick lifts Tech past UVa

The Hokies continued their dominance over in-state rival Virginia on the gridiron, but needed a Cody Journell field goal on the final play of the game to nip the Cavaliers 17-14 at Lane Stadium.

Tech became bowl eligible for the 20th straight year with the win and beat UVa for the ninth straight time and 13th time in the past 14 meetings.

Antone Exum’s interception set up the game-winning drive, which started with 3:21 left. Tech drove inside UVa’s 20, and with four seconds left, called a timeout to set up Journell’s 29-yard attempt. Journell drilled it as time expired.

10. Women’s soccer team beats No. 7 Wake to solidify NCAA bid

The Tech women’s soccer team probably would have made the NCAA Championships anyway, but in the last match of the regular season, the Hokies took away any doubt, blasting No. 7 Wake Forest 3-0 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Tech got goals from Katie Yensen, Ashley Manning and Jazmine Reeves, with Yensen’s goal coming less than two minutes into the match. Dayle Colpitts had two saves in goal and recorded the shutout.

The 2012 season marked the fifth straight in which the Hokies have upset a top-10 team. Tech advanced to the NCAA Championships and finished with a 13-6-1 overall record.