• Sophomore Vinny Todaro won the 1500m run in a PR of 3:54.58 and finished fourth in the 800m run (1:54.89)
• Freshman James House won the 100m dash title (10.45) and finished t-4th in the 200m dash (21.85)
• Junior Paul O’Donoghue captured the 800m title in 1:53.53
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s track & field team crowned three Big South individual champions on the track during a spectacular Saturday for the Panthers inside Vert Stadium.
Junior Paul O’Donoghue (800m), sophomore Vinny Todaro (1500m) and freshman James House (100m) all won their first career Big South titles in thrilling races. Coupled with the 3000m steeplechase victory by senior Chris Colo on Friday night, HPU has now posted four individual champions in each of the past three Big South outdoor meets.
The strong Saturday finish helped the Panthers surge to a third place finish with 122 points, the third highest point aggregate in program history. HPU held off fourth place Campbell (101) and finished behind second place Coastal Carolina (182.50).
“I thought our guys really stepped up today,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “It really started rolling with the 4x100m relay, with a mix of a multi athlete, a sprinter, a hurdler and a jumps athlete. They posted a strong finish and started the momentum. This was exactly what we hoped for being at home. We had a bump in performance and the atmosphere was excellent. It was a lot of fun out there.”
Todaro got things started for the Panthers Saturday, capturing the Big South 1500m title in a personal best time of 3:54.58. Todaro was part of an early pack to start the race, then blitzed the field on the final lap to claim victory. Freshman Ryan Udvadia kicked strong heading into the final 400m, then held off a strong Campbell surge to place second in a solid time of 3:55.16. The dynamic duo for HPU put an impressive 18 points on the board for the Panthers in the race.
Also in the 1500m, freshman James Quattlebaum finished ninth in 4:00.72 while junior Benji Szalai placed 11th in 4:01.43.
Freshman James House – a two-time all-conference selection during the indoor season – announced to the rest of the league Saturday that he’ll be a forced to be reckoned with for years to come. The Cary, N.C., blazed a trail to victory during a 10.45 second 100m dash race that earned him his first Big South title. The time also puts him in strong contention for an NCAA preliminary berth later this month.
O’Donoghue entered the Big South Championship as the No. 1 overall seed in the 800m run and backed up that ranking with his performance. The Franklin, Mass., native led for the majority of the race and distanced himself from the field in the final straightaway to win the title in 1:53.53. Todaro added to his point total with a strong fourth place showing in the race (1:54.89), giving him 15 points on the weekend.
Other highlights for the Panthers included a breakout performance from junior Will Narramore, who shattered his previous triple jump PR by more than 0.6 meters en route to a second place finish. Narramore jumped 15.15m (49-8.5) on his first attempt, then topped that mark with a jump of 15.21m (49-11) on his second. The jump was just 0.25m off the school record set in 1992 and puts him in contention for an NCAA preliminary bid.
“Will really took advantage of a great atmosphere today and performed exceptionally well,” Esposito said. “He provided such a critical boost for our team with the second-place finish.”
Wrapping up distance action on the day, junior Paddy Grandinali fought off Camel after Camel to finish a solid third in the 5000m run with a time of 14:56.28. Senior Chris Colo placed eighth (15:21.29) to move his Big South point total to 11, while freshman Ryan Udvadia (15:30.75) and sophomore Chernet Sisay (15:45.89) finished 11th and 12th, respectively.
“I thought Vinny had a great meet and I loved what Ryan Udvadia did,” Esposito said. “He took a huge chance and it made the race. Paul’s been dominant all year in the 800m and now the next step for him is to get into the right race where he can clear 1:50.00. And I’m really proud of Paddy Grandinali. He played around with an international type pace and performed well.”
HPU’s 4x100m relay tandem of House, sophomore Eric Purnell and juniors Will Narramore and Nick Hula picked up five points with a strong fourth place finish (42:09) in the event. The Panthers’ 4x400m relay team of Purnell, redshirt-senior Tristan Faure, O’Donoghue and sophomore Luke Goodrich finished sixth in 3:25.07.
In other sprints action, House ran a strong race in the 200m dash to tie for fourth in a time of 21.85 seconds. House ended his first Big South outdoor meet with 19.5 points, the most by a Panther in 2015.
Hula ran an excellent race in the 400m dash final to finish sixth and pick up three more points for the Purple & White. From the lane eight position, Hula crossed the finish line in a strong time of 50:07.
The Panthers will now await the announcement of the field for the 2015 NCAA East Region preliminary round scheduled for May 28-30 in Jacksonville, Fla.