‘Nova runner tops NCAA regional

Mary Elizabeth Donovan

Frances Koons took first in the cross country meet last Saturday and led the Lady Wildcats to a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Lock Haven University. Koons beat her season-best time with 20:02, almost 30 seconds better than the second-place runner. Because of her dominating performance, she will advance to the NCAA National Championship Meet at Indiana State University.

“We had some great performances from several individuals,” Koons said. “I took first, and was really grateful to have so much support from my coaches and team.”

Akilah Vargas also finished strongly, coming in 14th place at 21:11. Freshman Siobhan Coleman ran well with a 32nd-place time of 21:37.

Although the team came in second place last year at the regional meet and advanced to the national championships, the Wildcats tied for fifth this season and will not have a spot at the meet. However, Vargas improved 10 positions from last year, and Koons made an improvement from fourth to first, securing a spot for herself in the meet which will be held on Monday.

“The NCAA is an awesome event,” Koons said. “Villanova has a great tradition and history at the NCAAs, and I am proud to be able to represent the Wildcats at the championship.”

Princeton took first at the regional meet, Georgetown, second and La Salle, third. West Virginia finished fourth, and Villanova tied for fifth place with Bucknell.

The men’s team, on the other hand, came in third place but still did not automatically advance to the championship meet. If they receive one of the 12 at-large bids, they will have the opportunity to compete in the meet on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.

Milos Mitric finished first among the Wildcats and ninth overall with a time of 30:41. Also running strongly, Robert Curtis finished in 11th in 30:47. Two spots behind Curtis, Andrew Keino finished in 30:51 and, Michael Kerrigan placed 15th with a time of 31:01.

Allan Brett, ‘Nova’s fifth runner, had to pull up at the three-mile mark because of a hamstring injury and ended up finishing in 43rd place.

“The members of the Villanova men’s team were the heroes of the day, racing with pure heart and determination,” Koons said. “Despite dealing with injuries and sickness of several key members of the team throughout the season, Villanova put it all on the line on Saturday.”

The Georgetown Hoyas won the meet and the American University Eagles came in second place. The first and second teams automatically advanced to the NCAA National Meet. The Wildcats are hoping they can obtain a bit to the tournament as well.