Feb. 20, 2014
Championship Central | Heat Sheet
By Richard Finn
Special to BIGEAST.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships presented by New York Life return to the biggest name in the sport – the Armory – on Friday and Saturday.
“It is definitely cool to head to the Armory and a facility where all they do is track and field,” said Marquette head coach Bert Rogers. “There is so much history, it’s fun to go to a place like that.”
It is the second consecutive year and fifth time in six years that the fabled Armory in upper Manhattan has hosted the championships.
Competition begins on Friday morning with a schedule heavy with field events. Saturday’s program starts in the afternoon with a line-up of running finals including the men and women’s mile.
Perennial league powerhouses Georgetown, Providence and Villanova, with a combined 33 men’s and women’s leagues titles, will be joined by newcomers Butler and Xavier to showcase some of the nation’s finest track and field student-athletes. DePaul, Marquette and the St. John’s women will also compete.
“This is definitely one of the more exciting wide open conference meets in a few years. There are a lot of unknowns. With the new alignment of the new schools, you bring in a lot of new faces, different teams who bring different strengths to the conference,” Rogers said.
“There is not one dominant team. There are quite a number of teams in both men’s and women’s who could win,” said Providence head coach Ray Treacy. ”I think it is going to make for a very interesting meet.”
The super competitive landscape of the conference is reflected by the top performances this indoor season from an array of athletes. Of the 20 Track and Field Athletes of the Week honorees this season, there were just three repeat winners – long distance standouts freshman Patrick Tiernan and senior Emily Lipari of Villanova, and Marquette junior weight thrower William Koeck. Seven schools were represented altogether.
Tiernan and Lipari continued the Wildcats’ and BIG EAST’s lengthy tradition of long distance stars. Tiernan nabbed his honors for setting the school indoor mark of 13:37.73 in the 5,000 meters and in the 3,000 meters by breaking the eight-minute mark.
Lipari was the top collegiate runner in the famed Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games last weekend with a 4:35.24 clocking, which gave her the third-fastest time in the nation. Earlier in the season she ran the second-best time in the BIG EAST and third-fastest in the nation of 9:09.37 in the 3,000 meters.
However, top national and BIG EAST honors in the 3,000 meters this season belong to Providence senior Emily Sisson. She ran in 9:00.76 to win the Boston University Valentine Invitational.
Add Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan and if all three run, the 3,000 meters could be the highlight of the meet.
The exclamation point on Villanova’s long distance strength was put on display last weekend when sophomores Jordan Williamsz and Robert Denault broke the four-minute mark in the mile to sit 1-2 in the BIG EAST rankings this season.
Other distance standouts include senior Billy Ledder and freshman Ryan Manahan of Georgetown, and senior Claire Fisher and junior Mara Olson of Xavier.
“The meet hasn’t changed a whole lot for us,” Treacy said. “We will continue to be strong in the distance runs along with Villanova and Georgetown. It hasn’t made it any easier for us.”
Several standouts have not made it easy for the competition in the field events.
DePaul senior Matt Babicz has been dominating in the shot put with seven top-three finishes including four wins. He also threw a career-best 19.43 meters.
Koeck and his Marquette junior teammate Bret Hardin could be headed for a weight throw showdown.
Xavier junior Onya Edwards in the triple jump, sophomore Musketeer Mercedes Oliver in the shot put, junior Alexandra Wasik of Villanova in the pole vault and St. John’s senior Danette Hinton in the weight throw have turned in top performances this season.
Picking the winners this weekend won’t be easy. But there’s one result that is certain.
“There should be a lot of good performances this weekend,” Rogers said.