‘Nova runs to All-American honors

Paul Martucci

Villanova’s other championship-caliber team was racing against the nation’s best competition at the NCAA championship in Arkansas over Spring Break.

The winter track and field team, which performed phenomenally all season, capped its campaign by earning multiple All-American honors and reaching several top ten finishes.

These finishes were highlighted by the performance of senior Marina Muncan, a standout cross-country and track runner who utilizes the winter track season to transition from the slower-paced, long distance cross-country season to the shorter, faster-paced spring track and field season.

“Winter season is important, and it serves as a base for outdoor [running],” Muncan said. “It can be hard to be in good shape for cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, so I guess for me indoor is a transition when we start doing some faster stuff.”

Transition or not, the season still proved to be successful for Muncan. After deciding with her coaches to focus only on the mile, Muncan ran the mile in a mere four minutes and 42.13 seconds, earning her a fifth place finish and All-American honors.

Her teammate, sophomore Frances Koons, also ran a strong race, running 3,000 meters in nine minutes and 27.49 seconds. This time placed her tenth in the championship meet.

The All-American performances for the team were produced by the long distance medley relays. The men’s team, which featured two freshmen, a junior and a redshirt sophomore, surprised the field of 12 by placing third with a time of nine minutes and 39.34 seconds.

Freshman Sean Tully ran the relay’s first leg, freshman Elvis Lewis ran the second, junior Drew Eckman ran the third and redshirt sophomore Bobby Curtis ran the fourth and final leg. This third place finish earned the team All-American honors, an achievement that is certainly significant for a young team.

The women’s long distance medley relay, keeping pace with the men’s team, ran exceptionally well against the competition despite being without Muncan, who chose to pass on the medley in order to rest for her race in the mile. The women placed sixth with a time of 11 minutes and 16.3 seconds, a pace that also earned them All-American honors.

Junior Akilah Vargas ran the first leg of the race, followed by fellow junior Tiera Fletcher. Fletcher handed the baton off to sophomore Arusha McKenzie, who then passed it to Koons for the final quarter.

“For Vargas, McKenzie and Koons, this is their first trip to the NCAA and with this in mind I think they performed admirably,” women’s coach Gina Procaccio said. “They have gained much from [the medley], and I think they can only go forward.”

Like Procaccio, Muncan also cannot help but look to the seemingly bright future.

“The results from the championship are exciting because it promises good results for the outdoor season and good results at the Penn Relays.”