The Villanova men and women's teams acquitted themselves well at the Big East Indoor Championship meet over the weekend; the women were third and the men fourth in the team standings. Several things became clear as the meet progressed:
(1) Sam Ellison is a monster. First, even though he did not win the 500 meter dash, Ellison ran 1:01.17 - faster than reigning Olympic 400 meter gold medalist LaShawn Merritt ran that distance on the same track a week ago. It took an world-leading time and collegiate record to beat him. He then anchored the men's 4 x 800 meter relay squad and unleashed a late ferocious kick to split 1:49 and win the conference title for the Villanova men. Only a sophomore, the next 2.5 years of Sam Ellison should be fun to watch.
(2) Emily Lipari really does have good closing speed (but we already know that). The shortest runner in every race she's in, Lipari's kick is really devastating and has to be demoralizing to her competitors. Lipari won the 1000 meters over the weekend and anchored the women's 4 x 800 relay in a similar fashion -- maintain contact with the leaders until 200 meters to go, and then employ the extra gear to catapult herself to the lead. She split a super 2:05.8 over 800 meters in the DMR on Saturday. Also only a sophomore, there's a very high ceiling on her future accomplishments.
(3) Bogdana Mimic is the least ballyhooed great runner in recent Villanova history. Running for years in the sizable shadows of Sheila Reid and, to a lesser extent, Amanda Marino, Mimic has quietly put together multiple All-American performances, conference championships, and NCAA finals. She won the 5000 meters title this weekend. Her career is reminiscent of that of Ryan Hayden, who played Robin to Adrian Blincoe's Batman in the previous decade.
(4) Sam McEntee -- already a 3:57 miler before his 20th birthday -- has great versatility, from 800 meters to 5000 meters to 10K cross country. He's been on campus only 14 months and is already a key pillar of the team. He split 1:51 on the third leg of the 4 x 800, giving Villanova and Sam Ellison a chance to overtake the Notre Dame anchor, and ran a close second to defending Big East champion (and 2011 NCAA 1500 meter finalist) Jeremy Rae in the mile. McEntee is one of only 10 men in the NCAA with an automatic qualifier in the mile for the NCAA indoor championship meet.
5) Villanova has plenty of milers. The men qualified four -- Sam McEntee, Joe LoRusso, Dan Harris, and Alex Tully -- for the Big East mile final. Not to mention the additional five men who qualified for the mile, but ran in other races. As for the women, six qualified for the conference meet in the mile. Stephanie Schappert took third in the final, with Nicky Akande seventh. The Villanova women's best miler -- Emily Lipari -- didn't even compete at that distance, going instead to the 1000 meters, which she won. All told, Villanova qualified 15 milers for the Big East championship meet.