Friday, May 28, 2010

Irish Phenom: Will Ciara Mageean Pick Nova?

Ciara Mageean is the most promising Irish schoolgirl distance runner in two decades, since Sonia O'Sullivan left County Cork to attend Villanova. Indeed, many in Ireland have already dubbed the County Down (NI) prodigee as "the next Sonia," especially after Ciara broke O'Sullivan's junior records at 800 and 1500 meters. The 18-year old has gaudy PRs of 2:03.07 (800 meters) and 4:15.46 (1500 meters), which would rank #4 and #10 in the NCAA this year. Internationally, she won the 1500 gold at the 2009 European Youth Olympic in 4:15.46, and took silver in the 800 at the 2009 World Youth Championships. Ciara won the U-20 Irish 1500 championship as a 17-year old and amazingly won the Irish Senior indoor 1500 title in 4:24.07 when she was only 15 years old.

As might be expected, Ciara is being recruited heavily by US-based schools. She has made campus visits to Villanova and Providence (both with strong Irish traditions) and most observers see the two East Coast Catholic schools as the leaders in the recruiting wars. According to The Irish Times, she often cites Sonia O'Sullivan as her sporting idol and "perhaps the biggest giveaway is that there is more than a small resemblance in the way she runs, the way she looks, and even the way she smiles. She is, in other words, a complete and undeniable natural." Whether this connection to Sonia O'Sullivan helps guide Ciara to Villanova only time will tell. Expect the key decision to come down soon.

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