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Feb 22, 2021

ACC Championships Preview: Distance

As the 2021 ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships draw near, we’ll provide a preview of what to expect from each event group while also reviewing their excellent achievements during the first six meets of the season. 


In her second season as an assistant coach with Clemson’s track and field program, Vicky Pounds has helped lead a resurgence in the Tigers’ distance group during the 2021 campaign. As evident in both the men’s and women’s cross country programs finding success on the course during their respective 2020 seasons, Clemson’s distance crew has carried their momentum over to the track in impressive fashion and looks to produce a strong showing during this week’s ACC Indoor Championships.

The women’s program has seen familiar faces step into new roles in 2021, as Riley Coggin and Josie Wirtz have proven to be two of the Tigers’ top competitors in the women’s mile and 3,000 meters. While only a redshirt freshman, Lauren Hayes has grown into her role as the Tigers’ top 3,000m runner, having already gone sub-9:50 in the event at the Hokie Invitational on Jan. 22. Wirtz recently found considerable success in the 15-lap race, breaking the 10-minute barrier for the first time in her career by running 9:56.01 at the Tiger Paw Invite.

Coggin will look to dip under 5:00 in the mile for the first time this season at the indoor championships. Coggin, an indoor redshirt-sophomore from Brentwood, Tenn., carries a season’s best of 5:00.70 into the meet following her performance at the Tiger Paw Invite.

On the men’s side, few people within the entire Clemson program have found more success this year than John Ward. Ward carried over his sizable momentum from cross country — a season which saw him finish as the top Tiger with a personal best time in each of his three meets — onto the track, setting personal bests at both 800m and the mile at various points throughout 2021. In the mile, Ward entered this season with a personal best from 2019 of 4:16.21 and has since lowered it to 4:07.18 following a controlled effort at the Tiger Paw Invite.

Ward will look to contest the mile at this week’s championships alongside Colt Griffith. Griffith enters the meet with a personal best of 4:11.77 and a season’s best time of 4:15.04 in the mile. 

Marlin Young and Michael Smith each returned to the indoor track this season for the first time since 2019, as neither athlete competed during 2020. Young has seen sizable improvements across a handful of events this year, while Smith has shown his return to top-class form thanks in part to an extended period of quality training. 

Young will look to take his talents back to the 5,000m distance at ACC’s after contesting the event for the first time indoors back on Jan. 29 at the Bob Pollock Invitational. Freshman teammate Samuel Garringer will join Young in the 25-lap race alongside some of the nation’s top talent.

Smith has proven to be the Tigers’ top male competitor at 3,000m and will be joined by freshman Jack McManus on the starting line this week. Smith enters ACC’s with a team-leading time of 8:30.09 set back at the Tiger Paw Invite, while McManus will look to improve upon his performance of 8:39.77 from the Bob Pollock Invitational. Before his stellar run at the end of January, McManus carried a best in the event of 9:06.24 set during his high school career at Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pa.

For all of the most up-to-date information regarding Clemson’s Track & Field programs, be sure to reference and follow @ClemsonTrackXC on Twitter!