Written by Samuel Graham ~ Guest Writer
Photo Credit: @lynchburg_distance on Instagram via Kyle Lauffenberger
Lynchburg celebrates a pair of Old Dominion Athletic Conference team titles on the campus of Bridgewater College. It was the 13th championship in program history for the women and the 31st all-time for the men.
Bridgewater, Va. — The Lynchburg men’s and women’s track and field teams each won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championship on Monday afternoon on the campus of Bridgewater College, securing a third consecutive sweep of the men’s and women’s outdoor titles.
This is also the second straight year in which both the men’s and women’s teams have completed the ‘triple crown,’ achieved by winning the conference titles in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track.
While the women secured their 13th title in program history in style, defeating second-place Washington & Lee by 98 points, the men escaped with their 31st championship in a more dramatic fashion, staving off a late meet comeback effort from Washington & Lee.
Dramatics were supplied in large part due to a lap miscount in the men’s 5,000-meter, which resulted in many athletes believing they were finished a lap early, at 4,600 meters.
This led to mass confusion before a mad scramble by all athletes involved in a pivotal race which had the potential to swing the outcome of the meet.
The event was ultimately scored through that 4,600-meter mark, with Lynchburg’s Frank Csorba capturing the win. Had it been scored with the official 5,000-meter results, Washington & Lee would have drawn within four points of the Lynchburg lead.
However, all was put to rest a short while later as the Lynchburg men’s 4×400-meter relay secured gold to secure the team victory once and for all.
It is the third-straight meet victory for the men and the fifth-straight for the women.
“This one was a lot of fun,” said senior Sam Llaneza, who picked up 18 points to lead the way on the men’s side, including an event victory in the 800. “This was the first time having the meet at a location other than our track and you could tell that the atmosphere was hard to match being away from Lynchburg.”
Llaneza, a four-time All-American ranks in the nation’s top-10 in both the 800 and the 1,500 and led the way for a men’s mid-distance group that put together a great meet.
“Our goals going in were to finish first through third in the 800 and 1,500 and we did that, even going first through fourth in the 1,500,” he said. “I think we see now that Lynchburg has by far one of the best middle distance programs in the ODAC and at the national level as well.”
Llaneza, the defending champ in the 1,500, failed to repeat his title in that event, though the victory remained with Lynchburg as freshman Chasen Hunt claimed the victory in a highly-strategic race.
On the women’s side, Lynchburg was led by sprinter and jumper Aniya Seward and distance athlete Kelsey Lagunas in scoring an impressive 251 points to run away with the title.
“Winning ODACs as a team again was so much fun,” said Lagunas, who competed in both the women’s 5,000 and 3,000-meter steeplechase. “Watching jumps, sprints, throws and distance all come together to do their individual parts for the team was such a magical moment.”
Lagunas successfully defended her 2022 conference title in the steeplechase by resetting her own meet and school record to run away with the victory on day one of the two day meet.
She returned on day two to put together one of the more impressive performances of the meet, using a late-race surge to propel herself in front of Washington & Lee’s Carolyn Todd to claim the 5,000 victory.
“It was great to win those two individual titles with the girls,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without their support in the race and outside the race. Yes they are two individual titles, but in the end, I do it for them.”
Seward supplied an additional 47 points, including a trio of event victories, and a total of five all-conference selections. In the process, she reset the school record in the 100-meter dash and was a member of the second-fastest 4×100-meter relay in school history.
All told, she competed nine different times across six different events, between preliminary and finals races.
The pair of teams will now turn their attention to last chance meets over the next two weeks in an attempt to qualify as many athletes as possible for the 2023 NCAA Division III National Championships, hosted by St. John Fisher University beginning May 25 and concluding May 27.