HPU Track and Field: Austin Miller shatters pole vault record at VT Challenge

• Senior Austin Miller crushed his previous vault record of 5.06m with a huge mark of 5.22m (17-1.5)
• Senior Paul O’Donoghue ran the fastest 800m time in the Big South Friday (1:52.64)
• Freshman Sean Banda ran a lightning-quick PR of 6.88 seconds in the 60m dash

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Senior Austin Miller continued to take his HPU pole vault record to new heights Saturday, shattering his top mark at the Virginia Tech Challenge in Blacksburg.

Miller surged to a huge mark of 5.22m (17-1.5) Saturday, eclipsing the 17-foot plateau for the first time in his career. His previous top vault had been 5.06m, which he set last week at the HPU Team Challenge. The mark earned Miller a 10th-place finish in an elite field that included a number of professionals.

“I thought Austin showed more of his potential today and really set himself up to compete well,” vault coach Scott Houston said. “After he executed his attempts at 17 feet last weekend, he was much more composed and ready to put good jumps together today. I’m excited to see what he will do next weekend at the Big South Championship.”

This weekend’s meet was a warm up of sorts for the Panthers, as the indoor conference meet will be held at Virginia Tech’s facility beginning Friday.

With a week to go to the big competition, a number of Panthers put together excellent tune up performances in Blacksburg.

Senior Paul O’Donoghue led the way for the Purple & White Friday with a third-place finish in the 800m run. O’Donoghue’s time of 1:52.64 was a new indoor PR for the Big South 800m outdoor champion and marked the fastest indoor time in the league this season.

Junior Vinny Todaro put together another efficient performance in the mile run while shaving nearly eight seconds off his indoor collegiate best. The Newville, Pa., native finished the race in 4:10.31.

Sean Banda continued his breakout freshman campaign Friday with a pair of outstanding performances in Blacksburg. The Zimbabwe product continues to impress in the 60m dash, as Banda surged to an eighth-place showing amongst a strong field in the event. He crossed the finish line in a lightning-quick 6.88 seconds, just .06 seconds off teammate James House’s indoor school record.

In the long jump, Banda also set a new PR with a mark of 6.55m (21-6) while finishing 11th. Senior Will Narramore joined the PR party in the long jump, placing eighth with a new career best indoor mark of 6.88m (22-7).

The Panthers return to action next weekend (Feb. 26-27) at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships in Blacksburg.