Shippee and Wiltrout win ACC titles

Jill Shippee won the women's hammer throw and Madison Wiltrout won the women's javelin.

Jill Shippee competes in the hammer throw.

North Carolina’s Jill Shippee and Madison Wiltrout each earned ACC titles on the opening day of the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Lannigan Field on the campus of the University of Virginia Thursday. Shippee won the women’s hammer throw and Wiltrout the women’s javelin to get the Tar Heels off to an incredible start.

“It was an exciting day,” head coach Harlis Meaders said. “Both Jill and Madison have held high national rankings all year so to see them bring those national-level performances to the conference meet was really exciting. Anna Keefer scored some points in the women’s long jump which was another great finish for us. The men in the 1,500 raced really smart. To have both Alex Milligan and Brandon Tubby in the finals is a big plus for us.”

Shippee, a sophomore from Clifton Park, New York, had a historic day to win her hammer throw title. On her first throw, she matched her latest personal record of 220-1 (67.09 meters) to take an insurmountable lead. Shippee extended that lead in the finals, throwing 224-3 (68.36 meters) to set the school record for the fifth time in her career. That 68-plus meter mark not only gave Shippee the new ACC Championship meet record but also set a new conference record to make the sophomore the best women’s hammer thrower in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“When you think about all of the great throwers to come through this conference, for a true sophomore to be the best in history — at this point — is really quite an accomplishment,” Meaders said. “I believe Jill is a super talented competitor and I think there are big things on the horizon for her.”

Shippee is Carolina’s first ACC champion in the women’s hammer throw since Laura Gerraughty won the event in 2006. With her performance today, Shippee moves up to first in the east region and fourth in NCAA Division I competition.

In the women’s javelin, Wiltrout, a redshirt freshman from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, also secured her ACC title on her opening throw. Her mark of 182-5 (55.60 meters) reset her own school record and ranks third regionally and seventh nationally.

“Madison, of course, was injured during her true freshman year and has been through a lot to simply get back to being able to throw,” Meaders said. “To be able to come back at this level was incredible and I think she’s still got a lot more in the tank. Coach Gorski has done an amazing job working with her.”

Wiltrout is the first Tar Heel to win an ACC title in the women’s javelin since Erin Donohue in 2002.

Joining Shippee and Wiltrout on the All-ACC stage, Anna Keefer earned her fourth-consecutive All-ACC honors in the women’s long jump. A sophomore from St. Michael Albertville, Minn., Keefer finished sixth with a season-best mark of 20-3 1/2 (6.18 meters). Keefer is expected to make at least one more appearance in the Championship meet, this time on the track in Friday’s 100-meter prelims.

“I think we’re off to a fantastic start and hopefully the other kids on the team will see what this group has started and just sort of feed the fire,” Meaders said. “I think we’ve got a great spark and a lot of energy and now it’s just up to us to keep it going.”