Track and field begins season with promising results

Matt Bolton

Both the men’s and women’s track and field seasons got under way last Saturday at the Jack Pyrah Invitational.  

There were a number of strong results for both teams who were each using this race as an early season test for their runners.  

Due to exams and the holidays this meet was actually the only one for both teams in the first month of the season. 

The men and women will not race until they both compete at the Gotham Cup in New York Jan. 16.

For the men, both sophomore Josh Lampron and senior Elbert Maxwell were individual winners in their respective events.  

It was a solid performance as a team for Villanova who competed in eleven events and produced seven top three finished. Lampron won the mile besting a field of 16 with an impressive time of 4:11.42.  

Redshirt freshman Drake Johnson was the second Villanova runner to finish in the mile coming in third with a time of 4:29:46.  Maxwell finished first out of the 10 competitors in the long jump with his distance of 7.22 meters.

Villanova also performed well in the sprints on Saturday.  Coming in second and third in the 300 meters was a pair of Wildcats junior Donald Urschel (35.44) and Senior Bryan Murphy (36.05).  

Each also ran a leg of the 4×400 meter relay in which Villanova finished second out of the 12-team field with a time of 3:25.96.  Murphy ran the first leg, Urschel ran the second, sophomore Kyle Cartwright raced the third and handed off to freshman Zach Swenson. 

Sophomore Vince Thompson stood out on Saturday with his strong performance in the sprints.  

He finished fifth in the 60 meters and seventh in the 300 meters.

In the middle distance events Villanova competed in both the 800 and 1000 meters.  Senior Chris FitzSimmons finished first with a time of 2:29.57. 

Senior Chris O’Sullivan crossed the line in fourth in the 1000 meter race with 2:32.62 and sophomore Kieran Brennan came in fifth in the 800 meter race with his time of 1:59.41.  

Both sophomore Dan Sullivan and junior James Rowen each competed in the throwing events.  Sullivan finished third in the shot put with a distance of 13.50 meters. 

Rowen finished fourth in the shot put with a distance of 13.15 meters and sixth in the weight throw with a distance of 14.17 meters.

For the women, there were eight winners and a total of 20 top-three finishes among the 12 different events Villanova competed in. 

The eight events won by the Wildcats included four in the sprints, three in the field and one in the distance races. Junior Shanice Grant won both the 60 meter hurdles (8.67) and the 300 meters (40.36).  Senior Varonic Johnson won the 60 meters (7.72) and finished second behind Grant in the 300 meters (40.45). 

Freshman Melissa June and sophomore Kalissa Caesar finished right behind Johnson in the 60 meters.  

June came in second (7.87) and Caesar placed third (7.95).  Rounding out the winners in the sprint races was Freshman Sidney Hayes who came first in the 500 meters with the top time of 1:16.94.

In the distance events both redshirt freshman Julie Williams and Senior Leanne Tucker ran impressively.  

Williams won the 3000 meters with a time of 10:06.98, with sophomore Alexandra Russo the runner-up right behind in 10:08.17.  Tucker finished strong in the 1000 meters coming in second in 3:01.15.

The quartet of Sidney Hayes, Yazmin Wilson-Jones, Veronica Scott and Chloe Winn combined to place second in the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:59.40.  

Senior Kathleen McPhillips led a trio of Wildcats to sweep the top three in pole vault.  McPhillips finished with a mark of 3.86 meters. 

Junior Virgina LaMacchia came in second with a mark of 3.60 meters and Abigail Nolte came in third with a mark of 3.45 meters.  Villanova got great performances in the throwing events. Sophomore Kristen Erickson won the shot put with a throw of 12.16 meters. 

Junior Alita Ostapkovich finished first in the weight throw with a throw of 14.75 meters.  

Ostapkovich also placed third in the shot put with a distance of 11.83 meters.  Claudia Tishler came in third in the weight throw of 13.28 meters.

With the long break before the teams get to race again, each individual will have plenty of time to improve before the Gotham Cup.  

The Jake Pyrah Invitational allowed for Villanova to get to see what it has before the season picks up.  

While the meet included positive performances in each event for each team it also proved the Wildcats have plenty to work on to get where they want to be.  

Both track and field teams have to understand the stretch after break is brutally competitive and will serve as a better barometer for what the realistic expectations should be for their seasons.