Star of the Week: Koons takes individual title in regionals

Kaitlin Santanna

Whether she’s indoors or outside, on the grass or on the track, Frances Koons always seems to run in front of the pack. Throughout her five years at Villanova, this running star has garnered records and awards from the Big East and Mid-Atlantic Region in both track and field and cross country competitions.

Koons’ most recent success came last weekend at the NCAA Division I Mid-Atlantic Regional Cross Country Championship, hosted by Princeton University. The Allentown, Pa., native took the individual title in the 6K race. Koons won the Mid-Atlantic Regional with a time of 21:11, averaging 5:40 per mile. Koons, along with three of her teammates, was also named to the All-Mid-Atlantic Region Team as a result of her successful run, leading her to be named The Villanova’s Star of the Week.

While running is typically an individual sport, Koons’ successes contribute to bettering Villanova’s cross country team overall. After regionals, the women’s cross country team moved up to the No. 5 spot in the country and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. These championships will take place in Indiana on Monday.

These NCAA Championships may be Koons’ last chance to add to her already impressive resumé of results. Since her time at Villanova, a school with a traditionally excellent track and field program, Koons has dominated the Mid-Atlantic Region in cross country. In 2006, she was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Cross Country Athlete of the Year.

Although Koons is a leader on the cross country field, she has a multitude of outstanding finishes in both indoor and outdoor track and field. The ’08 outdoor track season was Koons’ most successful to date. After finishing 12th in the 5,000-meter finals in the NCAA Championships, she was named a USTFCCCA Division I All-American, the fifth time she received the honor. Earlier that season, Koons captured Big East titles in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter runs and was named the Most Outstanding Track Athlete for the 2008 Big East Championships.

Koon’s successful finishes in the 1,500-meter run brought her to any runner’s ultimate goal: the U.S. Olympic Trials. Ranked fourth-best among collegiate runners and 18th in the event overall, Koons finished third in her heat in the quarterfinal race early last July. Three days later, Koons was eliminated in the semi-final race. In a race where the top six advance to the finals, the Villanova runner finished eighth with a time of 4:17.41.

Although her collegiate cross country career will conclude after the NCAA Championships, Koons still has one more spring season of track and field remaining. Koons’ time at Villanova is soon coming to an end, but with her outstanding record, she will not be forgotten anytime soon. Her early successes at the national level at the Olympic Trials indicate that Koons may make a mark on the track world outside the collegiate world. Koons is certainly a runner that the ‘Cats are going to miss in every running season.