Men’s Track and Field Competes in Raleigh Relays


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Nicholas Mollica had a time of 54.20 in the 400 meter hurdles.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

In the second meet of the outdoor season in Raleigh, North Carolina, the emphasis for associate head coach Anthony Williams was seeing improvements and teaching lessons to move forward in the chase of better times and form.

Villanova competed in three events on Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26 — the pole vault, 400 meter hurdles and the long jump.

Senior Jim Keys was the first to compete out of the three, taking part in the pole vault. Keys highest clear of the bar came at the 4.57 meter mark on his final attempt, and he was unable to clear the next height of 4.72 meters.

Keys was having difficulty with his form, which made it more difficult to clear the thresholds he wanted.

“He [Keys] was having some trouble trying to get his steps,” Williams said, who coaches the sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers. “He just fought through it and got a little bit better mark.”

For Keys, getting his steps right will come through one area, and that is practice. The ability to practice well is made tougher with the volatile and sometimes unfavorable weather in the northeast during March, but the value of fortitude is needed to believe in the ability to make a good jump.

On Saturday, sophomore sprinter Nicolas Mollica ran in the 400 meter hurdles. Mollica ran a time of 54.20, which was six one-hundreths of a second better than last week’s result of 54.26. Again, Mollica’s times will be better with more practice, especially timing the jumps over the hurdles.

“To be honest, that was a lot better run than last week because the conditions here really wasn’t that good,” Williams said. “It was on the cold side and very windy, but just had better competition, so he rose to the occasion.”

With better competition, the times will naturally lower, but the main focus is competing. The response to the competition is key for the track and field athlete to run a faster time.

Saturday’s mark is the second fastest of Mollica’s career, as he won Big East athlete of the week last week. 

Graduate jumper Michael Troup competed in the long jump on Saturday. Troup finished with a mark of 6.49 meters on his second jump. Like the other two, Troup needs to work on his fundamentals to get better marks.

“We’re trying to work on his approach, and he really showed some good,” Williams said. “He had some good runs in practices during the warmups, but just wasn’t able to put it together during competition.”

Another factor that the jumpers had to adjust for was the wind, as the inconsistent wind speeds created challenges. The adjustments for the wind have to be made mentally and physically to secure a good jump.

“You pay attention to what is going on during the warmups because that’s going to give you an indication of what adjustments you need to make if it happens during the competition,” Williams said. “You do try and gauge based off of what’s going on during the warmups, which a lot of times is pretty similar to what’s going on during the competition itself.” 

Considering Troup is working through adjustments and the wind, the effort was good, and the progress is there for the future meets.

Next week, a portion of the Wildcats travels to Florida for the Pepsi Florida Relays, from Thursday to Saturday, while other Wildcats will be local for the Philadelphia Big 5 Meet. Some races to focus on include the 400 meter sprinters for the men, who should have a solid showing because they had off this past weekend, and the field events will continue to get repetitions to strengthen what the team members have been working on in practice. The focus for all the athletes is improvement towards the bigger events at the end of the season.