Villanova Sweeps BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships

2014 BIG EAST Men's Outdoor Track and Field Champion Villanova

2014 BIG EAST Men's Outdoor Track and Field Champion Villanova

May 11, 2014

Men's Full Results Get Acrobat Reader | Women's Full Results Get Acrobat Reader

By Richard Finn
Special to BIGEAST.com

VILLANOVA, Pa. - It's already been a season to remember for Villanova, and Sunday was the exclamation point.

On the final day of the BIG EAST Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships presented by New York Life on Sunday, Villanova swept both titles to tie a ribbon on its record-setting track and cross country seasons.

Sunday was filled with plenty of highlights for Villanova. The Wildcats are the first team to win both men and women's outdoor titles since Georgetown in 1996.

"This is what we talk about," said Villanova women's head coach Gina Procaccio. "We wanted to start off the new BIG EAST with a bang. It has been 14 years since we have won the outdoor title. This was a total team effort."

Villanova is the first men's team to win the BIG EAST "triple crown" of cross country, indoors and outdoors in the same academic year since the Hoyas in 1994-95.

"This was a big deal," said Villanova men's head coach Marcus O'Sullivan. "What I enjoyed most was getting them all to pull together to understand how important it was and to leave a legacy of that one year for generations to come."

Villanova's winning score in both the men's (225.50) and women's competitions (218) were meet records.

Villanova also on the indoor men's and women's BIG EAST crowns in February at the Armory in New York. In many ways, this weekend was a continuation of what the Wildcats started in the Big Apple.

"This was a big year for us, it's a special year," said O'Sullivan, a two-time NCAA champion during his Villanova running career as a student-athlete. "I hope it keeps extending itself for the years to go on. This is a great group of guys and women."

The women's title was the first for the Wildcats since 2004 and the men had not won since 1986.

The Georgetown men had started the final day with a 23-point lead over Marquette with Villanova in third place. But on Championship Sunday heavy with running events the Wildcats depth and track legacy, along with new found strength in the field events, rose to the top as they held off DePaul, which also made a strong late run to finish second with 166 points. The Hoyas finished third with 157.

Blue sky and bountiful sunshine was welcomed on Championship Sunday at Villanova Stadium after Saturday's matinee session turned into an all-day and all-night marathon due to lengthy severe weather delays. The first day of the meet lasted nearly 12 and a half hours.

A one-two Villanova finish in the men's 1,500 meters by sophomores Jordy Williamsz and Robert Denault gave the Wildcats comeback a big kickstart early in the program that pulled them into second place and within 12 points of Georgetown.

"We are playing catch-up but this definitely helps," said Williamsz, who added the outdoor title to his BIG EAST indoor crown.

Williamsz grabbed the lead with about 600 meters left and led Denault to the finish line with a winning time of 3:47.16. Denault was second in 3:47.65.

"I was really feeling terrible in my warm-up," said Williamsz. "I saw a little opportunity and thought I will just go now and catch them by surprise. It paid off."

Moments later sophomore Aaron Sandifer and freshman PJ Succi finished first and third in the 110-meter hurdles and the comeback was done as the Wildcats were in the lead.

Villanova would never relinquish the lead through the rest of the day, though DePaul pulled even for a short time late in the program thanks to exceptionally strong showings in the throws, led by Matt Babicz. The Blue Demon was named the Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer of the Meet.

Villanova senior Emily Lipari, racing for the last time on her home track, left as a winner, taking both the 800-meter run and then anchoring the 4x800 relay team to a meet-record 8:33.36.

Lipari's anchor leg turned into a blistering duel down to the final steps with Georgetown junior Andrea Keklak.

"It is a little bittersweet as this will be the last time that she does this for us," said Procaccio. "We have been blessed to have an athlete like her and she comes through every single time."

Hoyas freshman Ahmed Bile overtook defending champion senior Samuel Ellison of Villanova in the final meters to win a furious 800-meters race by a step in 1:49.04. Bile had lost to Ellison earlier in the season and he knew he had to change his tactic.

"He crushed the whole field that time, so this time I wanted to get out hard," said Bile. "I got up right up behind him and waited and to make my last move. I just really wanted it real bad and kept digging and knew that if I kept pushing I would win."

Laura Nagel was a bright spot for Providence taking back-to-back 5,000-meter titles, outpacing the field in 16:23.35.

The women's 1,500 meters was won by Butler senior Kirsty Legg in 4:16.72. Legg was a bit of a dark horse coming into the championships after having taken the indoor season off and did not participate in the outdoor season last year. "I am kind of off the radar, but I knew I was fit and was hoping for a medal, but I didn't think I was really going to do it until the last meters and then I said, `I could do this'," said Legg. She picked up one of the first two gold medals for Butler at the BIG EAST outdoor championships.

DePaul brothers Matt and Anthony Babicz took 1-2 in the shot put. Matt heaved a meet-record 19.27 meters.

Georgetown senior Amanda Kimbers swept both the 100 and 200 meters dashes and was named Women's Most Outstanding Track Performer.

NOTES: Villanova claimed both the Men's and Women's Coach of the Year honors ... Xavier Jones of DePaul was named Most Outstanding Men's Track Performer, joining teammate Babicz with a major trophy at the end of the meet ... Women's honors went to Amanda Kimbers of Georgetown as Most Outstanding Track Performer, the first Hoya so named since the honor was split between the track and field performers beginning in 1993 ... DePaul's Sarah Chappell was named the Women's Most Outstanding Field Performer to cap off a strong meet in the throws for the Blue Demons.

Women
1. Villanova - 218
2. Georgetown - 128
3. Marquette - 120
4. DePaul - 115
5. Butler - 88
5. St. John's - 88
7. Providence - 45
7. Xavier - 45

Women's Coaching Staff of the Year - Villanova
Women's Most Outstanding Track Performer - Amanda Kimbers, Georgetown
Women's Most Outstanding Field Performer - Sarah Moss, DePaul

Men
1. Villanova - 225.5
2. DePaul - 166
3. Georgetown - 157
4. Marquette - 150.5
5. Butler - 59
6. Providence - 39
7. Xavier - 29

Men's Coaching Staff of the Year - Villanova
Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer - Xavier Jones, DePaul
Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer - Matt Babicz, DePaul