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Tech Women's Track and Field ACC Title a Historic Win for Jackets

Feb. 18, 2002

ATLANTA – Thanks to the Georgia Tech women’s track and field team, one of the most dominant periods in Atlantic Coast Conference history came to an end Saturday.

With a true team effort, the Jackets outscored nine-time defending champion North Carolina, 122-113, and won the program’s first ACC track title of any kind. The Tar Heels had won each league crown since 1993 and 13 of the 15 conference championships.

Ironically, the meet was held at UNC’s brand new Eddie Smith Field House.

Just as significant is the fact that this win is just the second women’s ACC title by a Georgia Tech team. The Jackets also won the 1995 volleyball crown.

“This win was confirmation that the work you’ve been doing was the right stuff,” said Tech head coach Alan Drosky. “The progress that you thought you were making, indeed you were making that progress. You think you’re making progress, but you’re still finishing third. You never know how close you are to winning the conference.”

Tech had finished third in three of the last four years.

But 2002 would be different. The chance of winning this meet was something that was discussed at the team’s first meeting in late August. Momentum built for the distance runners with a strong cross country season, which included a NCAA South Regional title and a national runner-up finish by sophomore Renee Metivier.

As the indoor track season progressed, Drosky said he saw the team really starting to believe in itself.

“Just in the last three or four weeks, you could really feel the team starting to believe that we did have a chance. We’ve got a very motivated group, but we added the motivation of everyone believing that we could win the conference championship,” said Drosky. “You could really just see everybody coming together at the right time.”

In Chapel Hill, Drosky saw that victory was within grasp when the team had a strong first day of competition on Friday. After day one, Tech was in second, trailing first-place NC State, 48.5-46. However, Saturday set up well, as everyone that was expected to have qualified for finals did so.

According to Drosky, the turning point of the meet came early on Saturday. Entered in triple jump was freshman Shanta Smith, who ranked sixth in the conference, and senior Mishanta Reyes, who had yet to compete in this event this season.

Smith, from Miami, Fla., jumped 41’10.75″ to win the event. Her mark broke a 10-year-old school record and provisionally qualified her for next month’s NCAA Indoor Championships. Reyes placed fourth with a career-best jump of 40’09.75″. When the dust had settled, Tech had added 11 points on its lead over the Tar Heels.

These points proved important, as Drosky expected a push from North Carolina in the mile. Tar Heel runners placed first, third and fourth in one of the fastest miles in meet history. Tech’s Nicole Campbell placed eighth with a solid time of 4:51.39, a mark that would have won the conference title four times in since 1994. Carolina gained 20 points on the Jackets in this event.

But the Jackets did enough down the stretch to hold off the “Carolina juggernaut.” Metivier and junior Amy Dock placed third and sixth in the 3000 meters, while the 4×400 relay squad of Dana Rogers, Campbell, Jessica DeFreitas and Smith took first in 3:46.01. Smith came from third to first on the anchor leg to seal the win for Tech.

One of the more significant points of this win was that it was truly a team championship, as the Jackets were still victorious despite just two event wins, Smith in the triple jump and the 4×400 relay.

The Jackets posted a trio of runner-up finishes, three third-place finishes, five fourth-place finishes, a pair of fifth-place finishes and five sixth-place finishes. These numbers are a testimant to the depth of this team, something that could lead to a strong showing at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, slated for March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Metivier is automatically qualified with her school record time of 16:12.26 in the 5000 on Saturday. This mark currently ranks second nationally. Those provisionally qualified are Metivier in the 3000, Dock in the 5000, Jamie Ostrov in the high jump, Smith in the triple jump and Angela Levens in the weight throw.

They will have the chance to improve their qualifying marks within the next two weeks. Tech travels to the Virginia Tech Last Chance Meet this week, and Yellow Jacket athletes could go as many as four different sites the following week in search of qualifying marks.

Drosky also sees Reyes as having a shot in the long jump, as well as Campbell and Sara Pardue in the 800 and a distance medley team, as also having a shot at qualifying.

One thing is for sure, Drosky and the rest of the team have little time to relish their historical victory, which elevates Tech to conference’s elite.

“The real significance will show in the future,” added Drosky. “Time will tell. We now have a group of kids that has a completely different attitude now that they’ve had that wonderful taste of victory.”

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