Women’s XC Places Fourth at Big East Championships


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Amelia Arrieta was the first Wildcat to cross the finish line, coming in 20th.

Catherine Browne, Staff Writer

The Villanova women’s cross country team ended its conference segment of the season  as it secured fourth place out of 11 teams in the Big East Championship over the weekend. 

The strong lineup was composed of five runners, four of which were making their Big East Championship debut this weekend. However, one would not have noticed the inexperience across the roster. The Wildcats finished with 119 points as the five top scores were within a 25 second spread of each other. 

Earlier this week, prior to the race, the team learned that its star runner, graduate student Lydia Olivere, was sick and unable to race. 

“We still wanted to go in there and try and be a top four team,” head coach Gina Procaccio said of Olivere’s absence.  

Olivere is expected to recover in time for the NCAA Regionals in a couple of weeks. 

At Highland Park in Massachusetts, first year runner Amelia Arrieta marked in at 21:14, leading the team in 20th place. Following her race, Arrieta was named a second team all-Big East honoree. 

“She [Arrieta] is a great competitor, and it shows,” Procaccio said. “She’s got what it takes to really move up and finish in the top 10 next year.”  

The next two Villanova finishers crossed the line within a six second spread. Sophomore runner Emily Robinson finished in 21:24, good for 24th place, and graduate Ariana Gardizy finished two spots behind in 26th place in 21:30. 

Gardizy is an inexperienced Big East runner as she recently transferred from the University of Pennsylvania, but Procaccio felt that Gardizy competed well in her first Big East appearance. 

The remaining three team members were junior Anna Helwigh, sophomore Margaret Carroll and first year runner Kinsey Pogue. Helwigh is known to compete at her best in the Big East competition as she finished with a PR in the 400-meter relay and 3000-meter steeplechase in track and field last season. This time she solidified 30th place by finishing in 21:35. Carroll finished 32nd overall, with a time of 21:39. 

Pogue rounded out Villanova’s roster for this conference championship, finishing in 52nd, with a mark of 22:33. 

Although Robinson and Helwigh had experience competing in this race, the remaining four runners made their debut at the conference championships this weekend. 

“I thought they handled [the competition] pretty well and raced pretty competitively,” Procaccio said of the rookies.  

The Wildcats entered this race with a balanced lineup creating a 25 second spread among the top five scores of the team. This is the smallest range of finishing times for the team since 1990, when Villanova won its second Big East Championship title of six straight seasons. 

The team entered this conference race being ranked fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the latest polls released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. 

The Wildcats will make an appearance on Friday, Nov. 11 at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Penn State for an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championship. 

“We are going to get Lydia [Olivere] back in the mix and we are just going to go out there and give it everything we have,” Procaccio said.