For some Wildcats, they cleared the final hurdle before the NCAA National Championships for Outdoor Track and Field. This past weekend was the NCAA Track and Field East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida for both men’s and women’s teams. Villanova fared pretty well in the NCAA East Regional. Villanova sent a total of 15 athletes to Jacksonville, eight men and seven women. Now, after the dust has settled, six Wildcats will be flying west to Eugene, Oregon for the National Championships.
Elbert Maxwell, Samuel Ellison, Jordy Williamsz, and Patrick Tiernan move on for the men’s team. The duo of Emily Lipari and Angel Piccirillo will represent the women’s team.
Elbert Maxwell made his mark on the first day of competition. Maxwell set a new personal record for the long jump en route to securing a qualifying spot. He advanced to the finals, joining 15 other athletes who outlasted the initial field of 48. In his first attempt (fourth attempt overall) for the final round, Maxwell jumped for a career-high 7.52 meters. He followed that up by jumping 7.51 meters in the final attempt, tying his previous personal record. The top 12 moved on and Maxwell finished in 11th place. He wasn’t the only one to qualify and set a new personal record in Jacksonville, Samuel Ellison did the same. The top three finishers in each quarterfinal heat were given automatic spots for the National Championships. For the quarterfinals, Ellison ran the 800 meters in 1:47.60, a new personal record for an open race. He was in 5th place for the final 200 meters, before he kicked it into high gear and snagged a 3rd place finish. It will be Ellison’s third appearance at the NCAA National Championships. He will look to capture his first national title in Oregon. The pair of runners hailing from Australia, Patrick Tiernan and Jordy Williamsz, would top off the weekend by qualifying for the men’s team in the final night of competition. Williamsz finished 9th overall out of 24 runners in the 1500 meters. His time of 3:45.90 was the second best in the heat. By the end of the night, Patrick Tiernan found himself ranked 11th out of the field of 44. He finished fourth in his heat with a time of 14:14.57 in the 5000 meter race. For the men’s team, this is the highest number of athletes competing in the National Championships in 12 years.
For the women’s team, senior Emily Lipari was looking to rack up more accomplishments and accolades for not only a great year, but a great career. Sophomore Angel Piccirillo was looking to build up her young career and add to what has been a breakout year. The two teammates found themselves competing against each other in the same heat. The top five finishers in each heat and the next two overall fastest times receive a spot in the National Championships. Lipari dominated, setting a new personal record for the 1500 meters, a new meet record, and finishing 1st overall. She finished with a time of 4:14.64. As for Piccirillo? She was right behind her. She finished with a time of 4:15.16, good for fourth place in the heat. Her performance in the NCAA East Regionals was also a new career best. She broke her previous personal record by approximately 2.5 seconds, when she finished runner-up at the Big East Championships. Now, she will be moving forward to the NCAA National Championships, joined by Emily Lipari.
The NCAA National Championships will take place from June 11 to 14, at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.