Track and field runs past the competition indoors

Leslie Combs

Last weekend the track and field team took to the road and found success in both Boston and University Park.

Topping the list of the Wildcats’ recent accomplishments was the men’s distance medley relay team that placed third in the Adidas Boston Games held in Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College Feb. 1. The prestigious meet attracted the world’s top athletes in the track and field community.

For Villanova, the meet provided a chance to test its legs for the first time this indoor season against tough competition. Leading off for the ’Cats in his first race since returning from a knee injury, senior Tom Parlapiano ran an outstanding 1,200 meters in 2:56 minutes, handing junior Nic O’Brien the baton in first. O’Brien remained in the lead, running a 47.7 400m, and passed the stick off to junior Jason Jabaut, who then ran the first 800m leg in 1.50.1. Going down the stretch, Arkansas took the lead and junior Ryan Hayden received the baton behind the Razorbacks’ final runner.

Frustrated with the slow pace Arkansas reverted to in the front, Hayden went out to take the lead, wanting to run a qualifiying time for the NCAA Nationals. Pushing the pace up front, Hayden was passed in the final stretch of the track by both Arkansas and Michigan. In the closely-contested race, Arkansas came out on top setting a meet record in 9:34.76, while Michigan took second in 9:35.8. The ’Cats were right on the Wolverines’ tail, finishing third in 9:35.95. Kentucky came across a few seconds later in 9:37.76.

Although ’Nova did not secure a victory in Boston, it did secure an automatic qualifying time to the NCAA’s, its main goal of the meet. This feat was also done without the usual DMR contributions from senior standout Adrian Blincoe, out recovering from a knee injury and Mike Brown, who graduated last spring.

“All in all, it was refreshing to see a new team to evolve,” men’s head coach Marcus O’Sullivan explained. “It was a great start for them.”

While the men’s top distance runners battled it out up East, the remainder of the men traveled west once again to University Park to compete in the Penn State National Open, also held Feb. 1.

In the sprint events, freshman Aaron Smith took 14th in the 60 meter dash in 7.00 seconds flat, while football standout Clarence Curry finished 16th in 7.02. Both times earned the men a ticket to the Big East Championships later this season. Increasing in distance, junior Dan Marzluff captured sixth in the 500m run in 1:05.60 and classmate Paul Moser took third in the 800m run in 1:50.56. The junior class continued to impress, as Michael Botti and Mark Carberry took seventh and 14th in the 1,000m run in 2:26.63 and 2:28.92 respectively, while Patrick Dunn came across the line 11th in the 5,000m run in 14:50.13. All three juniors also qualified for the Big East Championships.

In the field, the senior Patrick Moore placed 11th in the shotput, going 15.11m.

O’Sullivan was pleased with the men’s performance last weekend, especially considering the entourage of knee injuries the team has had to deal with lately. “Penn State went really well,” O’Sullivan said.

He attributes the large number of knee injuries to the severe cold conditions in which the men had to train on and in during the past few months. Usually the team is able to run on the grass until January, but the snow forced them to begin running on the track much earlier.

“We just got killed,” O’Sullivan explained. “I was able to bring most of them back, but considering the conditions we could be much worse.”

The women joined the men in University Park last weekend, where the young squad continued to show signs of future success.

Freshman Yolanda Malcolm maintained her excellent track and field debut, finishing second in the 60m hurdles in 8.62 in a tough final heat.

“She [Malcolm] is doing really well,” head coach Gina Procaccio said. “Everytime she runs she PR’s in the hurdles.”

After her fast start in the indoor season, the rookie has one of the top 60m hurdles time in the Big East.

Sophomore Ioana Parusheva is also starting out strong indoors. Last weekend the Yugoslavian native captured the 1,000m run in 2:48.21. Parusheva was the favorite in the event and confidently took control of the race early.

“She [Parusheva] just took it right from the gun,” Procaccio explained.

Also finishing first for the ’Cats at Penn State was junior Rebecca Mitchell in the one mile run with her 4:47.78 performance.

Overall Procaccio is pleased with the progress the team has made thus far in the indoor season. “They are doing really well,” Procaccio said. “The season is going as well as can be expected.”

The teams both return to the track in two weeks, when they head to the Armory Collegiate Invitational Feb. 14-15.