Wake Forest men’s and women’s track and field teams completed the ACC Championships this past weekend with six athletes being named All-ACC selections.
The final team rankings of the competition, which was held at Virginia Tech, do not encapsulate the Deacons’ weekend. The women’s team placed 11th out of 15 teams, with 19.5 points, and the men’s team placed 13th out of 14 teams, with 24 points. Clemson came in first place on the women’s side, while the host, Virginia Tech, took the title on the men’s side.
But despite neither team placing in the top-10, the Deacons had a successful weekend in Blacksburg, Va.
On the men’s side, senior Kyle Graves (mile), sophomore Simon Holden (800m), freshman John Maurins (shot put) and sophomore Michael Cyphers (pole vault), were all named to the Second All-ACC Team.
Cyphers broke the school record for men’s pole vault during the final day of competition on Feb. 28. En route to his fifth-place finish in the event, he cleared a height of 5.12m (16-9.5), breaking his previous record of 5.07m (16-7.5).
Graves, Holden and Maurins all placed fourth in their respective events. Holden set a personal record with a 1:49.80 800m run. Maurins also recorded a personal best with 18.01m (59-1.5) shot put throw.
On the women’s side, senior Nyki Caldwell and junior Sydney White both earned All-ACC First Team selections. White earned a bronze metal for her thirdplace finish in the pole vault on Feb. 27, clearing a height of 4.07m (13-4.5).
Caldwell became the first Wake Forest woman to win an ACC Indoor Track and Field title in a field event when she won gold in the high jump. She cleared a height of 1.78m (5-10) to claim the championship, earning 10 points for the women’s team.
The team will now begin preparing for the outdoor season.
“I think this weekend ended on a high note, and it is a great note to go into outdoors with,” Caldwell said. “I think there is a period now of kind of taking a break or slowing down a little bit, just so we don’t end up burning out or exhausting ourselves because our outdoor season is very long.”
Caldwell believes the team’s overall performance this weekend will help motivate them as they get into the outdoor season. “I hope to keep those positive vibes going, keep the team morality up,” she said. “I definitely think the atmosphere of our team is good right now.”
Close-up: Sydney White
Sydney White is a junior health and exercise science major and a pole vaulter on the women’s track and field team. From the nearby town of Kernersville, N.C., White won four state championships in pole vault while attending East Forsyth High School. She also was a member of the 2011 and 2012 USA World Youth track and field team.
Since coming to Wake Forest, White has continued her successful career in pole vaulting. She placed 13th at the 2014 NCAA Championships and was named a second-team All-American. At the Virginia Tech Elite Meet on Feb. 7, White broke the school record in women’s pole vault by clearing 4.12m (13-6.5), to break her previous record of 4.05m.
When did you first start participating in track and field?
Middle school, so probably when I was 12. It was just the middle school team, nothing too serious.
What drew you into pole vaulting?
My first pole vault coach was the first female vaulter at Wake. So she kind of pulled me aside in the beginning of indoor track my freshman year of high school and encouraged me to become a pole vaulter.
What are some track and field events you participated in before devoting yourself to pole vaulting?
I exclusively pole vault now. But in the beginning, I did long and triple jump as well, and a little bit of sprints.
You’re from nearby Kernersville. Did you always want to attend Wake Forest?
I really had no huge desire to come here or anything against coming here. It’s just the way it worked out.
How did it feel to break the school record at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet in early February?
Good! My first couple years here were filled with a lot of ups and downs. So I’m kind of glad to just start on a high note for this season.
How did you feel about your individual performance at the ACC Indoor Championships this past weekend and earning an All-ACC selection?
I’m definitely happy and grateful that I got third place, but as any athlete will tell you, they always want more. I’m definitely looking forward to outdoor season so I can improve and reach my goals.
What are some goals that you have for yourself and the team for your outdoor season?
Definitely to continue to score and hopefully to update my All-American status to first-team All-American rather than second-team All-American; also to make nationals. USA Outdoors is this summer, as well, and I would like to qualify for that.
What are some of your favorite classes that you have taken as an HES major at Wake?
Some of my favorite classes that I have taken would probably be medical anthropology with Dr. Steve Folmar [professor of anthropology] and human physiology with Dr. Pete Brubaker [professor of health and exercise science].
What are some things you like to do at Wake outside of track and field?
I serve on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and I really enjoy that. Mostly just hanging out with my teammates and my friends here, nothing too crazy. I go home every once in a while.
Is it nice to be close to home?
Yes, but I kind of forget I’m close. I never really see my parents unless it’s on my terms, so it’s not bad.
Is it nice to have them close by for meets?
My dad would come no matter where it was.