by Nick Toland
The women’s and men’s track and field teams competed in the Big East Championships last weekend at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
Both teams continued their recent success, as the men’s team finished fourth overall and the women replicated last year’s performance with another third-place title.
The highlight of Saturday’s events for the men’s team featured a Big East title in the distance medley relay.
It was the first championship in the DMR since 2010 and the 16th time overall the Wildcats had won the event in the Big East Championships.
Freshman Jordy Williamsz anchored Villanova to the 14th best overall time in the country in the DMR this season.
Junior Chris O’Sullivan handed the baton off to freshman Donald Urschel near the front of pack, giving him some momentum to eventually pass the baton to junior Alex Tully with the team in third place overall.
Tully maintained Villanova’s position, giving Williamsz the chance to make his move in the anchor.
It was not until the final 200 meters that Williamsz surpassed the runner from Georgetown to gain the lead and the victory with a time of 9:47.59, only one second faster than Georgetown.
Villanova juniors Chris Fitzsimons and Sam McEntee and redshirt freshman Robert Denault each earned Big East titles in their events to lead the way for the Wildcats on the final day of the tournament.
McEntee was the named the champion in the 3000-meter run after edging out the victory by less than a second.
Denault took home the title in the one-mile run with a time of 4:07.83 and Fitzsimons won the 800-meter run in fifteen-tenths of a second faster than Connecticut freshman Robert Rhodes.
Junior Dusty Solis finished third in the 1000-meter run for Villanova.
The women’s team finished second in the DMR and also scored points in the 5000-meter run on Saturday with a fourth place finish.
At least one Wildcat qualified for the finals in each event in which the team ran in preliminary heats.
Villanova, Connecticut and Notre Dame were separated by one-third of a second in the DMR in what was the tightest race among Saturday’s events for the women’s team.
’Nova sophomores Stephanie Schappert and Qualitra Brown ran the event with freshman Angel Piccirillo and junior Nicky Akande in time of 11:07.04, which was good enough to be the eighth fastest in the country this season.
Piccirillo would help the Wildcats to make a surge in the standings on Sunday with a victory in the women’s 4×800-meter relay and a second-place finish in the 1000-meter run.
Piccirillo was joined by Schappert, Akande and junior Emily Lipari in the 4×800-meter relay.
A narrow victory over Notre Dame in the race that was decided within the final tenth of a second earned ’Nova 10 points and solidified their standing of third overall in the tournament.
The women’s team finished with 98.5 points overall, 10 points shy of second place Connecticut and nearly 40 points short of first place Notre Dame.
Connecticut would claim first place in the tournament on the men’s side with 142 points, 60 points more than Villanova’s 82.
“We ended up a little below our expectations,” said junior Sam Ellison, who placed third in the 500-meters.“But on Sunday we really came together as a team. A lot of people put together some awesome performances.”
Villanova will travel westward to South Bend, Ind. on the first weekend of March for the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame as they try to build off their achievements from last weekend.