Miami women’s track and field win ACC Outdoor Championships for fourth time in program history

Redshirt sophomore Daphnee Lavassas competes in the Women’s 1500m at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational Meet at Cobb Stadium on April 9, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

After two hard-fought days, Miami women’s track and field began Saturday in sixth place at the 2022 ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Durham, N.C., and finished as champions. The Canes won the ACC title for the fourth time in program history, their first since 2018.

The Miami men’s team also had a good showing, finishing in fifth place.

“I’m proud of all of our teams, but especially proud of [the women’s team] … they just really, really wanted it,” track and field director Amy Deem said. “We had to work really hard to get to this point. I don’t think anybody coming into the championships, except us, expected us to do this. From the first day to the end, they just kept fighting and kept fighting. I’m just very, very proud of this group.”

Debbie Ajagbe, who won ACC Field MVP, started the Hurricanes’ comeback on Day 3 by taking gold in the discus throw (54.85m). Two days earlier, she broke a 17-year-old program record in the hammer throw with a 63.32m mark, good enough for fourth place.

Moriah Oliveria then blazed past her competition in the 400m (51.85 seconds) to give the Canes another gold medal, boosting them further up the scoreboard.

Kennedy Brace’s bronze medal in the 400m (53.19) and Jacious Spears’ silver in the 100m (11.28) gave Miami more points. Kayla Johnson and Alfreda Steele added a pair of bronze medals in the 800m (2:04.90) and 100m (11.28), respectively, to push Miami to the brink of victory.

Steele secured the last medal of the evening for the women, taking silver in the 200m (23.01). The Canes finished the final day of the ACC Championships with 108 team points – 7.5 more than runner-up Duke.

“We’ve had some adversity this season, but I knew it was in there,” Deem said. “The coaching staff and I, we knew we had a good group. We just had to finally get them understand how good they can be, and now that they did, it’s really rewarding.”

Several Canes helped keep Miami within striking distance on Thursday and Friday, setting up the Day 3 comeback.

Erikka Hill had a strong performance in the hammer throw (55.10m) and javelin (45.33m), finishing in seventh place for both events.

Redshirt Sophomore Daphnee Lavassas capped off Day 1 by scoring in the women’s 10,000 meter with a time of 34:27.73.

The following day, Ajagbe and Hannah Hill shined, taking third (16.54m) and fourth place (16.52m) in the shot put, respectively. Selina Dantzler (15.59m) finished seventh in the same event, with Hill (15.14m) right behind in eighth place.

On the men’s side, three Canes brought home gold medals en route to a fifth-place team finish.

First, Decio Andrade won the hammer throw with a 70.88m mark on Thursday.

Russell Robinson highlighted Day 2, taking the triple jump with a 16.36m leap. Teammate Jeffrey Williams excelled too – his 18.49m mark in the shot put was good enough for both fifth place in the ACC Championships and third-best in program history.

On the final day of competition, Ayman Zahafi ran a personal best in the 800m, giving the Canes another gold medal with a time of 1:46.79.

After a storybook weekend, Miami gets back to business on May 25-28, when the NCAA East Preliminary takes place in Bloomington, Ind.

“We’re going to enjoy this for a little bit, go back and get a little rest and get ready,” Deem said. “I think we have great momentum going into the NCAA preliminaries. They’re always tough, but I think the confidence that we got this weekend is going to go a long way in getting a lot of people to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Oregon.”

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