FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — Following a record-breaking Friday with top national performances, the Hokies track and field squads Saturday solidified the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships as a meet that will go down in the Virginia Tech history books. With six All-American honors, including a third-place, school record 400m by Jacory Patterson, the Hokies earned their way to an all-time indoor championship weekend.
Patterson opened Saturday’s action for the Hokies with a monstrous time of 45.14 in the 400m finals. With a 21.05 200m split, Patterson set the stage for a historic run. In a complete performance, the junior crossed the line with a new school record, a third-place finish in one of the toughest events at the meet, the third fastest time in the world this year, and the 20th fastest time in world history.
In the 800m finals, Lindsey Butler earned five huge points for the Hokies as well as first-team All-America honors by placing fourth, finishing with a time of 2:02.15.
Across the rest of Saturday’s events, four more Hokies delivered top national performances. Bashir Mosavel-Lo posted a strong 1:51.83 in the 800m, good for eighth place in the nation. Three Hokies went to work in a stacked 3,000m field, as Antonio Lopez Segura, Ben Nibbelink, and Ben Fleming posted All-American level times. Lopez Segura earned ninth place with a personal record 7:55.87, followed by Nibbelink and Fleming in 14th and 16th as all three earned second-team All-American honors.
The loaded meet saw the most events the Hokies have ever competed in at the indoor national championships, and team scores reflected that statistic. On the women’s side, the Hokies tallied 15 points, the highest total since 2010, and the second-highest team finish in Hokies’ women’s history at 14th.
The Virginia Tech men’s squad earned 11 points and placed 16th while also crowning nine All-Americans. Across both squads, the Hokies earned nine first-team All-Americans and four second-team All-Americans and set four school records across the championship meet.
“This was an outstanding national meet for both the women and men with great efforts across the entire team,” Director of Track and Field Dave Cianelli said. “For the women to place 14th and the men 16th in the nation is a memorable performance. Both the men and the women have the chance to be even stronger at the outdoor national meet in June. We have a young team with almost every athlete returning in 2022. Our future is very bright.”
The Hokies look to begin the outdoor season on March 26.
On the first day of the 2021 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Hokies put on a show. Members of the Virginia Tech track and field team earned three first team All-American honors and set three new school records.
In the first event of the day, Essence Henderson defied all the odds she has faced throughout this season by smashing her own school record with a 56′ 11.5″ (17.36m) shot put. Henderson has struggled through injury all of 2021, but her massive throw showed her resilience and incredible ability as she placed fourth in the event and broke her school record by over a foot.
“Essence was just incredible today; her focus all day was on another level,” said Associate Head Coach Andrew Dubs. “Coming into this meet ranked 10th, finishing fourth in the way she did: with a huge new lifetime best and scoring big for the team. What really is there to say?
“Essence Henderson is the definition of resilience. What she has been through the last three months. What she has battled through. Her ability to come out of that, the way she has handled everything, how do you put that into words? How a person handles themselves in the face of adversity is the true definition of one’s character. Today, that was defined in her ability to show up against all odds. It was an inspiring performance to start off the meet for our team.”
Ben Nibbelink featured next in the mile prelims and delivered a performance for the ages. Setting a new Virginia Tech school record with a time of 3:58.24, Nibbelink ran the seventh fastest time in the prelims. His record-setting time was better than each time in the second heat, but he just narrowly missed out on advancing to the finals due to automatic qualification of the top four spots in each heat.
In a traditionally strong event for the Hokies, this year’s men’s distance medley relay topped all others in Tech history. The squad of Ethan Mills, Patrick Forrest, Thierry Siewe Yanga, and Ben Fleming ran a time of 9:27.67, over 2.5 seconds faster than the Hokies’ previous school record. Each member of the relay team ran incredible splits on each of the legs and placed fifth in the NCAA to earn first-team All-American honors.
“Really proud of all the efforts today,” Distance Head Coach Eric Johannigmeier said. “Two school records, fifth place DMR, and a men’s and women’s finalist in the 800m is a good start to the meet for the distance group!”
Rachel Baxter continued her storied vaulting career at Virginia Tech with a feat few others have achieved. Placing fourth in the event with a vault of 14′ 3.5″ (4.36m), Baxter claimed first-team All-American honors for the second time in her career. This marked the fourth consecutive season Baxter has received an indoor All-American honor.