‘Cats run in California, Widener; prep for Penn Relays

Leslie Combs

The Mount SAC Relays held last weekend in Walnut, Calif., provided several Wildcats one last opportunity to compete among the nation’s elite in the track and field community before the prestigious Penn Relays got underway this week.

Representing Villanova was junior Adrian Blincoe, taking first yet again, this time winning the 1,500m run in 3:41.85. His time provisionally qualified him for Nationals and narrowly missed the automatic standard of 3:41.50.

Blincoe crossed the line in front of University of Montana’s Scott McGowen, who finished in 3:42.25, as well as the heralded American high school record holder Alan Webb of the University of Michigan. Webb had his collegiate debut at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium last Saturday night in the 1,500m run and finished ninth in 3:44.74.

Also representing the ’Cats in the 1,500m run was Ryan Hayden. The sophomore came in sixth in 3:42.74, a personal best for him.

Junior Jason Jabaut rounded out the trio Villanova sent on the men’s side, and he too had a successful day on the track, finishing fifth in the 800m run in 1:50.04, a personal best for him as well.

Men’s head coach Marcus O’Sullivan was pleased with the results the men achieved.

“It went pretty well from the men’s standpoint,” O’Sullivan said. “They all came back in good spirits.”

Kalin Toedebusch was the lone Wildcat representing the women last weekend in California. The freshman finished 13th in the 5,000m in 16:56 and was not as pleased as she would have liked with her performance, but women’s head coach Gina Procaccio explained that the experience of an elite meet was the priority of the trip.

“It was a chance for her [Toedebusch] to get out there and run,” Procaccio said. “Just to experience that type of competition. I thought she was competitive for her first big-time 5,000. I thought she did well.”

While several team members were competing on the West Coast, the rest of the squad stuck closer to home, competing at the Widener Invitational on April 20. Highlights from the meet included junior Tom Parlapiano’s 800m run victory in 1:51.03, a personal best.

On the women’s side, Melanie Rhoden took first in the 400m hurdes and her time of 1:02.68 qualified her for the Big East Championships this May.

Joceyln Fontaine also recorded a personal best last Saturday, going under 58 seconds for the first time in the 400m run, capturing first in 57.68.

Both the men and women have used all the meets thus far to prepare for the ones that count and this week marks the beginning of the ’Cats’ true season with the running of the Penn Relays.

The men are coming in as strong contenders in the distance field, defending their recently won indoor national title in the distance medley relay, as well as being the defending Penn Relay Champions in the DMR. Jabaut, Hayden, sophomore Paul Moser and Blincoe will run the event, comprised of an 800m, 1,200m, 400m and 1,600m leg. Jabaut, Hayden and Blincoe will reunite once again for the 4x1600m relay with the addition of Parlapiano.

Stanford, Arkansas, Michigan and Connecticut will give ’Nova fierce competition on the track, but the men are prepared to defend their title and perhaps pick up another.

“All the teams are coming in and we know we have our hands full,” O’Sullivan said. “But we are looking forward to it and we are going to be very competitive.”

The women are running one relay at Franklin Field this weekend; with such a young squad, they are not expecting the results the men are aiming for.

Sophomore Rebecca Mitchell is the lone upperclassman who will join the freshmen trio of Nicole Bridgewood, Holly Cosnett and Toedebusch in the DMR.

“We have only one runner that has run as a collegian at the Penn Relays,” Procaccio said. “We just want to let them be competitive and see where we end up.”

This weekend’s running of the Penn Relay Carnival marks the 107th year track and field athletes have gathered at Franklin Field for the elite meet.