‘Nova wins Distance Medley at Penn

Andrew Gordon

The men’s and women’s track and field team traveled to the University of Pennsylvania over the weekend to participate in the first and oldest relay meet in the country, the Penn Relays. The three-day event brings the best high school and collegiate track athletes together for over 33 hours of competition.

The most notable performance from the Wildcats was a victory in the men’s distance medley relay championship. The race began with a strong 1,200-meter leg from senior Sean Tully in a time of 2:56.7.

Showing great endurance, Tully kicked his last 200 meters to separate from the pack and hand off in second place behind Arkansas.

Fellow senior standout Elvis Lewis took the baton and continued to gain on Arkansas with a quick 46.3, 400-meter leg. Handing off to sophomore Jason Apwah for an 800-meter leg, Villanova was within one meter of the leader. Apwah ran a steady split, clocking in at 1:49.4.

Sophomore Matthew Gibney took the baton for the final mile-long leg. Gibney stayed within a competitive distance of Arkansas for the majority of the race, until his final 300 meters. At that point, Gibney was in third behind Texas and Arkansas. With an inspiring second wind, Gibney picked off the Texas runner and was neck and neck with the Arkansas miler until the home stretch, when the Australian-born runner passed Arkansas, finishing 10 meters ahead in a split of 3:58.4. This relay team clocked in at 9:30.81, giving Villanova its 23rd victory in the history of this event.

“I know how much this means to Villanova, especially Sean and Elvis, who are seniors and have been fairly close before,” Gibney said. “I really just wanted to earn it for everyone else because everybody at ‘Nova cares about it so much.”

The second competition for the men’s team took place early Saturday afternoon in the men’s 4×1,600 meter championship.

Sophomore Ben Guest, Tully, sophomore Carl Mackenzie and Gibney raced to a fifth place finish behind Arkansas, Virginia, Providence and Cornell. The Wildcat runners finished in 16:25.19, with splits of 4:07.5, 4:06.1, 4:06.1 and 4:05.5 respectively.

In the men’s 4×800 championship, the Wildcat team of senior Dan Tully, Apwah, Mackenzie, and senior Cody Harper finished in ninth place with a time of 7:24.35.

The Villanova women’s distance runners had an impressive day, finishing in the top four of both events they entered.

In a traditionally strong race for Villanova, the women’s distance medley relay championship, the ‘Cats quartet of juniors Nicole Schappert, Makalia Griffith, and seniors Ellen Dougherty and Frances Koons ran to a third-place finish behind Tennessee and Big East-foe Georgetown. The team’s time of 11:13.69 was a full 12 seconds faster than the fourth-place finisher.

Early Friday afternoon, sophomore Sheila Reid joined the familiar trio of Dougherty, Koons and Schappert to capture a fourth-place finish in the women’s 4×1,500 meter championship. Tennessee, Georgetown and Washington ran at a blistering pace to finish ahead of the Wildcats.

In the process Tennessee smashed the previous record of 17:15.62 set by Michigan in 2007, running a time of 17:08.34. Reid anchored the Villanova squad to a time of 17:22.29, running to the eighth-best time in the event’s history.

Both the men’s and women’s teams take to the track again this weekend for the Big East championships, held at Villanova Stadium.