Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On this Day in 1983
Sydney Maree's 3:31.24 is New WR over 1500 meters

On this day in 1983 in Cologne, Germany Sydney Maree broke Steve Ovett's world record in the 1500 meters, running 3:31.24. Although this world record was bettered within two weeks time, Maree later dipped below the elusive 3:30 barrier, running 3:29.77 in 1985, an American Record that stood for 21 years.

The 3:31.24 WR race video is HERE

The 3:29.77 AR race video is HERE.

 Here's how September 5, 1983 issue of Sports Illustrated described Maree's quest for the world record:

September 05, 1983
Fast Finish To A Long Summer
Sydney Maree had struggled since June, but at Cologne he finally let go—and broke the world 1,500 mark

by Kenny Moore

It seemed to Sydney Maree that he had tried so hard, and done so little. "I didn't know why I wasn't running well," he said Sunday night, his mood at once expansive and reflective, for this was important to get down. This was history now. "The whole summer was just a long struggle. I was amazed at what a month's layoff could do to me."

On June 28, reaching the tape in a 3,000-meter race in Oslo, Maree had felt a tightness in his right hamstring. By the end of his victory lap, he was limping—and knew it was a pull. He flew home to Villanova, Pa. and took nearly a month off from the circuit to heal.

Sound once more, he began intense training for the Helsinki World Championships. The effort so tired him that he failed to make the 1,500 final, but he pressed on. His history is one of blooming late in a season. In September 1981, in Rieti, Italy, he ran his best mile, 3:48.83, and beat 1,500-meter record holder Steve Ovett when most of the rest of the world's best milers had long since gone home exhausted.

"I don't race indoors," Maree said. "I do distance and strength training instead. I don't start any speed work until late April. By June, at our TAC nationals, I'm competitive, but it is still my strength that carries me. I'm not relaxed. It's usually only now, in August in Europe, that I get my real speed, that I feel comfortable, say, with running a 1:52 half and keeping going."

But the comfort, the rhythmic ease he had known in other years, refused to come. On Aug. 17, he ran a 3:50.30 mile in Berlin behind Steve Scott's 3:49.21. Six days later, he ran a 3:53.41 mile in Oslo behind Ovett's 3:50.49. No progress. In each he had run as hard as he could, and it showed. His arms thrashed; his stride was reaching and clumsy. Maree at his best is none of those things.

He began to wonder whether he shouldn't just write off the season and go home. He was highly regarded by the other runners because of his past accomplishments and his example of effort, but they began to leave him out of their calculations concerning who would be factors in the last lap. He was becoming a member of the supporting cast.

There were three major meets in Europe last week, and each featured a 1,500. Maree would run in two of them, Brussels on Friday night and Cologne on Sunday. But first, on Wednesday, there was Zurich, where any talk of records swirled around the person of Scott. Scott had lost the slow, disappointingly tactical Helsinki 1,500 to Great Britain's Steve Cram, but more by kicking too late than by inadequate swiftness. Indeed, Scott had gained on Cram all the way down the stretch. Over a full, hard-paced 1,500, it seemed, things would be different.

But Scott didn't find Cram in Zurich. The evening before, in Oslo, Cram had run the year's fastest 800, a 1:43.61. Maree had seen him do it. Cram then decided he would enter the 1,500 in Brussels. However, Scott would run the 3,000 there. "I set up my schedule months ago," said Scott. "I'm not going to be reduced to chasing him. He knows where I'm racing." Setting records, then, seemed to be Scott's only chance at proving his superiority to the tall young Briton.

Rabbit Collin McClive of the U.S. towed the Zurich field through 800 in 1:55.65, but faltered abruptly, leaving Mike Boit in front. Boit did his best, and with 400 to go the time was 2:38. That meant a 53-second closing lap by Scott would earn him Ovett's world record of 3:31.36. But Scott stayed third behind Boit and Spain's José Abascal until 250 to go, and then it was Abascal who moved into first. Scott passed him on the last turn, and edged away down the stretch. Switzerland's Pierre Deleze came on for second.

Scott's time was 3:32.71, the second-fastest of the year, and he confessed to nerves. "I was more tense for this than at Helsinki," he said. "I was tight. And conservative. There was pressure here because of the conscious record try."

John Walker of New Zealand was fourth in 3:34.29. The most experienced judge of these things, Walker said, "Cram ought to break the world record in Brussels. He can run from the front, and he's had terrific preparation. Scotty is equally capable, but he's not as positive right now. He needed to be more aggressive that last lap."

Two nights later, on Brussels' patched and worn track, Cram gave an object lesson in decisive running. He followed rabbit Sam Koskei of Kenya, instructing him at times in the pace, to a 1:53.20 for 800. Rather than fold, Koskei kept right on for another 200 meters.

"I'm not going to go for any record if someone doesn't do the third lap," Cram had said. Yet when Koskei went wide and abandoned him with 500 to run. Cram didn't hesitate. He set out for home. At the bell the time was 2:36.20. "I wanted 2:35," said Cram. "I thought I wasn't going to do it."

No doubts showed in his long, forceful stride, or on his eager face. He passed 1,200 in 2:49.64, and the crowd rose, howling in anticipation. He had left a fine field 15 yards behind, evoking the 1981 Brussels mile, in which Sebastian Coe set the still-standing world record of 3:47.33. In the last 100 of Cram's race, his teeth were clenched, and his head bobbed with the strain. As he crossed the line, the crowd erupted in a great groan, inappropriate for such a compelling run, but they had been watching the clock, and it had stopped at 3:31.66, a bare .30 from the record, the fourth-fastest ever, and the 1,500 of the year, so far.

"That's the problem with going for records," Cram said later. "If you build yourself up for one, and you miss, then you're disappointed, even if you've run great. Look, I just ran a PR by two seconds. I can't be unhappy with that. It's good simply to know I'm still running well. I don't believe you can stay in top form for more than a few weeks."

"Well, then," said Chris Brasher of the London Observer, who had paced Roger Bannister to the first sub-four-minute mile, "Why not attack something?"

Cram, a casual man, said, "I'd like to run in Cologne or Koblenz, but I'm being fair to myself. I don't seem driven to do everything at once."

And there were other things, important things. "I've promised to be home [in the North of England] in early September. My fiancé needs moral support. It will be her first day of teaching at Monkseaton Middle School." Thus it was clear that Britain has produced another miler of wondrous confidence and balance. So impressive was his long, lonely drive to the finish that it had, even in the eyes of Scott partisans, legitimized Cram's Helsinki win.

Maree, by dismal contrast, had gotten poor position at the start, spent much of the race in the second lane, and finished fourth in 3:35.39, 25 yards behind. "I felt a little better than in the earlier races." he said. "They got away early, but it seemed like I ran O.K. near the finish."

So that night he began to think about Cologne. "I need to go out hard. I'm not one who can run the last 800 in 1:48. I need a few seconds to play with at the end. I decided that in Cologne. I would go from the beginning, whatever pace the rabbit went. I said, if I die, then I die. But I had to see what I could do running my way. All I wanted was a 3:33 or maybe a 3:32."

His best was 3:32.12, set last year. "You know the mile record has always seemed a possibility to me. But I didn't think I had the speed for the 1,500 record. No, I thought of Cologne more as a tune-up race, the way it has been for me in the past."

The early rabbit at Cologne was Bernhard Knoche, and he tore through the first 200 in around 25 seconds—suicidal pace. Half-miler David Mack of the Santa Monica Track Club assumed second, and Maree was third. Maree yelled at Knoche to slow down, but still they passed 400 in a whistling 54.62. They already had a gap on the rest of the field. "We all thought he'd die." said Walker.

Knoche slipped aside at 600, and Mack took over. "He said, 'Come on, Sydney, hang on,' " said Maree later. As he led, Mack kept half-turning his head, keeping track of his charge. "He talked to me the whole way," said Maree. " 'Come on, man, all the way; you're there, man, come on....' "

Mack hit the 800 in 1:52.80. It had not looked that fast. "Mack is so smooth, he made me feel easy," said Maree. Too, Maree had no clear idea of the pace. His mind was completely filled with the simple imperatives of staying with Mack and staying relaxed. He was not the same runner he had been in Berlin or Brussels. The feathery flow had returned.

Just before the 1,000, Mack had to turn Maree out on his own. It was just where all help had left Cram. Maree sped on, but the crowd of 55,000 didn't rise to him with resounding encouragement. He didn't look as if he needed it. "I never felt in any difficulty." Maree would say. "It was the most even pace I have ever run."

With a lap to go, the time was just under 2:35. This was where Cram had hoped to be two nights before. Maree looked back and saw no one. He still had no idea of the time. He ran the first curve of the last lap and passed 1,200 in 2:49.36.

Down the backstretch and into the final curve, he sustained that effortless stride. The crowd still seemed to be politely rewarding the esthetic beauty of it, unaware of the speed. But the athletes knew. Don Paige, a teammate of Maree's in their Villanova days, ran onto the track and gestured and shouted for Maree to drop his arms and pump them as he kicked.

"When he hit 200 to go, I knew he had a world record," said Paige. "His biggest asset is that he seems to love pain. But he never really tied up. Jumbo [Elliott, their revered coach at Villanova, who died 2½ years ago] was probably up there going, 'Yeah, Sydney, oh, yeah, my Sydney.' "

With about 100 meters to run, Joe Douglas, coach at the Santa Monica T.C., yelled the time at Maree: "Three-fifteen." Only then did Maree understand where this run had brought him.

"I knew I could make the last 100 in 16 seconds," Maree said. "Yet I never really opened up. I just said, 'I've got to run through the tape.' " In the last 20 meters, he began to struggle. "Only then did I push. Just to get done."

He crossed the line. The crowd looked at the clock. And gave forth an exhalation of stunned confusion. "I was the same way," said Maree. "I stared at the clock. It didn't register." Walker, finishing third in 3:34.55, came up behind him, grabbed his shoulders, and said. "Sydney, you've done it!" Maree looked again; it hit him, and he went to his knees in thanksgiving.

The time was 3:31.24, which was .12 faster than Ovett's record. "My only thought was that it had been so easy," said Maree. "It was harder to run the 3:35 the other night than this. Now I keep asking that question, why so easy?"

He jogged on the infield grass along with second-placer Deleze (3:34.22) and Walker. This was the ninth world-record race Walker has been in, counting two of his own. Walker was talking animatedly to Maree, gesturing earnestly.

Then Maree ran to a phone in the press row and called his wife, Lisa. "The record is for them," he said while waiting to be put through. "For my daughter Natalya and my wife, for Lisa....

"Hello, Lisa, how are you? Guess what? A new world record....

"In the 1,500 meters.... Me!...

"Lisa, it's afternoon there. Why are you sleeping in the afternoon? O.K., now that you're awake, I'm calling to tell you my time today—3:31.24. The record was 3:31.36....

"Lisa, are you crying? I just went with the pacemaker. Walker and a few others were in it. Hey, hey, Lisa, please don't cry, O.K.?"

It was then that Pierre Quinon of France took advantage of the no-limits atmosphere Maree had created and broke the world pole vault record by a centimeter, with 5.82 meters (19'1"). A boyish, curly-haired charmer of 21, he had the bar put at the astronomical height of six meters (19'8"). "Not to make it," Quinon said after he'd failed. "Just to show, to feel what it would be like."

Amid the cheers echoing for that, Walker revealed what he'd been telling Maree after the race. "I was advising him," he said, grinning. "I said to go home, to not stay and set himself up to be knocked off next week. I said enjoy it. These things don't last."

Which is exactly what Maree plans to do in a few days. "I can sleep now," he said. "I came here the hungry one. Now I am content."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cross Country National Poll: Villanova Women #12, Men #27

NEW ORLEANS – Oklahoma State’s defending NCAA champion men and the Providence women have been voted by the coaches as the Division I preseason No. 1 teams in the National Coaches Poll, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Tuesday.

2013 Preseason — August 27 -- WOMEN

next poll: September 17
Rank Institution (FPV) Points Region Conference Cross Country Coach (Yr*)
2012 FINAL
1 Providence (11) 359 Northeast Big East Ray Treacy (30th)
2 Florida State 343 South ACC Karen Harvey (7th)
3 Oregon (1) 334 West Pac-12 Robert Johnson (2nd)
4 Duke 321 Southeast ACC Kevin Jermyn (10th)
5 Washington 317 West Pac-12 Greg Metcalf (12th)
6 Georgetown 283 Mid-Atlantic Big East Michael Smith (2nd)
7 Arizona 278 West Pac-12 James Li (12th)
8 Stanford 276 West Pac-12 Chris Miltenberg (2nd)
9 Arkansas 238 South Central SEC Lance Harter (24th)
10 Cornell 234 Northeast Ivy Artie Smith (15th)
11 Penn State 223 Mid-Atlantic Big Ten Beth Alford-Sullivan (15th)
12 Villanova 221 Mid-Atlantic Big East Gina Procaccio (14th)
13 Michigan State 219 Great Lakes Big Ten Walt Drenth (10th)
14 Colorado 196 Mountain Pac-12 Mark Wetmore (19th)
15 New Mexico 195 Mountain Mountain West Joe Franklin (7th)
16 William and Mary 188 Southeast Colonial Jill Miller (2nd)
17 Michigan 184 Great Lakes Big Ten Mike McGuire (22nd)
18 Notre Dame 143 Great Lakes ACC Tim Connelly (26th)
19 Minnesota 129 Midwest Big Ten Sarah Hopkins (1st)
20 Vanderbilt 123 South SEC Steve Keith (8th)
21 Oklahoma State 112 Midwest Big 12 Dave Smith (5th)
22 NC State 109 Southeast ACC Laurie Henes (8th)
23 San Francisco 95 West West Coast Helen Lehman-Winters (11th)
24 Weber State 69 Mountain Big Sky Paul Pilkington (7th)
25 Boston College 68 Northeast ACC Randy Thomas (22nd)
26 Iowa State 56 Midwest Big 12 Andrea Grove-McDonough (1st)
27 Texas 54 South Central Big 12 Mario Sategna (1st)
28 Princeton 48 Mid-Atlantic Ivy Peter Farrell (36th)
29 West Virginia 47 Mid-Atlantic Big 12 Sean Cleary (7th)
30 Butler 23 Great Lakes Big East Matt Roe (7th)
Others Receiving Votes: Georgia 21, Connecticut 19, North Carolina 14, UC Davis 13, Harvard 11, Toledo 7, Florida 4, Syracuse 3, Northern Arizona 2, Texas A&M 1

2013 Preseason — August 27 -- MEN

next poll: September 17

Rank Institution (FPV) Points Region Conference Cross Country Coach (Yr*)
2012 FINAL
1 Oklahoma State (10) 358 Midwest Big 12 Dave Smith (8th)
2 Northern Arizona (2) 349 Mountain Big Sky Eric Heins (7th)
3 Colorado 337 Mountain Pac-12 Mark Wetmore (19th)
4 BYU 307 Mountain West Coast Ed Eyestone (14th)
5 Arkansas 284 South Central SEC Chris Bucknam (6th)
5 Tulsa 284 Midwest Conference USA Steve Gulley (12th)
7 Wisconsin 279 Great Lakes Big Ten Mick Byrne (6th)
8 Portland 269 West West Coast Rob Conner (24th)
9 Syracuse 266 Northeast ACC Chris Fox (9th)
10 Princeton 254 Mid-Atlantic Ivy Jason Vigilante (2nd)
11 Eastern Kentucky 219 Southeast Ohio Valley Rick Erdmann (35th)
12 Oregon 203 West Pac-12 Robert Johnson (2nd)
13 UCLA 197 West Pac-12 Mike Maynard (5th)
14 Iona 193 Northeast Metro Atlantic Ricardo Santos (6th)
15 Texas 172 South Central Big 12 Mario Sategna (1st)
16 Stanford 167 West Pac-12 Chris Miltenberg (2nd)
17 Virginia 163 Southeast ACC Peter Watson (2nd)
18 Columbia 132 Northeast Ivy Willy Wood (20th)
19 New Mexico 127 Mountain Mountain West Joe Franklin (7th)
20 Indiana 126 Great Lakes Big Ten Ron Helmer (7th)
21 Florida State 125 South ACC Bob Braman (14th)
22 Notre Dame 116 Great Lakes ACC Joe Piane (39th)
23 Florida 112 South SEC Mike Holloway (7th)
24 Georgetown 110 Mid-Atlantic Big East Patrick Henner (15th)
25 NC State 91 Southeast ACC Rollie Geiger (36th)
26 Michigan 72 Great Lakes Big Ten Alex Gibby (4th)
27 Villanova 65 Mid-Atlantic Big East Marcus O’Sullivan (14th)
28 Duke 41 Southeast ACC Norm Ogilvie (23rd)
29 Dartmouth 28 Northeast Ivy Barry Harwick (22nd)
30 Michigan State 24 Great Lakes Big Ten Walt Drenth (10th)
Others Receiving Votes: Georgia 20, Illinois 18, Providence 17, Virginia Tech 12, Washington 9, North Carolina 8, Oklahoma 8, Alabama 7, Louisville 3, Harvard 3, Missouri 3, Arizona State 1, Air Force 1.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Regional XC Polls are Out: Men #3, Women #3 in Mid-Atlantic

The USTFCCCA has released it's first pre-season regional cross country poll.  The Villanova men enter the season ranked #3 in the Mid-Atlantic region behind Princeton and Georgetown.  On the women's side, Villanova comes in at #3 as well in the region.  Here are the polls:


Rank School Location Conference
2012 FINAL
1 Princeton Princeton, N.J. Ivy
2 Georgetown Washington, D.C. Big East
3 Villanova Villanova, Pa. Big East
4 American Washington, D.C. Patriot
5 Penn State State College, Pa. Big Ten
6 La Salle Philadelphia, Pa. Atlantic 10
7 Navy Annapolis, Md. Patriot
8 Saint Joseph’s Philadelphia, Pa. Atlantic 10
9 Lehigh Bethlehem, Pa. Patriot
10 Penn Philadelphia, Pa. Ivy
11 Duquesne Pittsburgh, Pa. Atlantic 10
12 Temple Philadelphia, Pa. American
13 Bucknell Lewisburg, Pa. Patriot
14 UMBC Catonsville, Md. America East
15 Rider Lawrenceville, N.J. Metro Atlantic
Regional Championship History — Last Five Champions:
2012: Georgetown, 2011: Georgetown, 2010: Princeton, 2009: Georgetown, 2008: Georgetown

Rank School Location Conference
2012 FINAL
1 Georgetown Washington, D.C. Big East
2 Penn State State College, Pa. Big Ten
3 Villanova Villanova, Pa. Big East
4 Princeton Princeton, N.J. Ivy
5 West Virginia Morgantown, W. Va. Big 12
6 Navy Annapolis, Md. Patriot
7 Penn Philadelphia, Pa. Ivy
8 Duquesne Pittsburgh, Pa. Atlantic 10
9 Bucknell Lewisburg, Pa. Patriot
10 La Salle Philadelphia, Pa. Atlantic 10
11 Saint Joseph’s Philadelphia, Pa. Atlantic 10
12 Maryland College Park, Md. ACC
13 Delaware Newark, Del. Colonial
14 Loyola (Md.) Baltimore, Md. Patriot
15 Rutgers Piscataway, N.J. American
Regional Championship History — Last Five Champions:
2012: Penn State, 2011: Georgetown/Villanova, 2010: Villanova, 2009: Villanova, 2008: Princeton/West Virginia

Wood Report: Villanova Women #7 in Preseason XC Poll

Here's how The Wood Report sees the Villanova women's prospects for the 2013 cross country campaign.  The squad looks to re-enter the ranks of the elite programs after tumbling a bit in 2012.

Head Coach: Gina Procaccio (14th Season)
2012 National Finish: 20th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Emily Lipari (Sr., 4:15 1500m, 9:08 Open 3k)
  • Nicky Akande (Sr., 4:17 1500m, 9:39 Open 3k)
  • Megan Venables (Jr., 17:03 5k, 35:26 10k)
  • Stephanie Schappert (Jr., 2:07 800m, 4:18 1500m)
  • Courtney Chapman (Jr., 4:26 1500m, 9:31 Open 3k)
  • Kelsey Margey (So., 2:06 800m, 4:17 1500m)
  • Ariann Neutts (Sr., 2:07 800m, 4:22 1500m)

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Julie Williams (Fr., 4:51 Mile, 10:50 2 Mile, NXN Qualifier '11)
  • Katie Brislin (Fr., 4:29 1500m, 10:18 3k, 29th NXN '12)
  • Angel Piccirillo (Redshirt Frosh, 2:05 800m, 4:21 1500m)

Season Preview

Although it feels like they have been around forever, Emily Lipari and Nicky Akande have finally reached their senior years at Villanova. Coach Gina Procaccio has done a great job keeping this Villanova team consistently good throughout the years, and this year will be no different. With two very solid front-runners returning, some nice depth and a good freshman class, the Wildcats are ready to return to NCAA prominence after their 20th finish in 2012. 

Lipari & Akande lead at 2012 Big East XC
Emily Lipari has had quite the storied career at Villanova. She is the only returning member from the 2010 NCAA National Championship winning team. Lipari has the tools and experience to be a top-15 runner. She has good range from 800m to 3k. If she steps up and becomes a huge low-stick for this team, they will see the success they are capable of this season. 

Nicky Akande is one of the more under-rated athletes in the NCAA. Akande was awesome for the majority of the cross country season in 2012. She finished 3rd at the Big East Champs and took home the individual title at the Mid-Atlantic Regional. An unfortunate Nationals race in Louisville last year will have her hungry to improve upon her 95th place finish, this upcoming season. 

Villanova's Men's and Women's programs, though coached by different people, share a similar attribute--they are loaded with middle distance talent. Lipari and Akande are both gems in the middle distance events (with some range) and have two other athletes that are sub 4:20 for 1500m. Coach Procaccio has proven that she can coach up the middle-distance runners and this played a huge reason in their ranking so high this season. 

The rest of the squad that will help the Wildcats break into the top-10 this season is comprised of a few girls with pretty good experience in xc and a few that have limited opportunities, but have some very good upside. 
Angel Piccirillo takes off the redshirt in '13

Stephanie Schappert, Kelsey Margey, Ariann Neutts and Angel Piccirillo all are excellent middle-distance runners. Neither of these athletes have necessarily excelled in cross country (Piccirillo redshirted her freshman xc season) but all have the capability of stepping up in distance and being solid pack runners for Villanova behind Lipari and Akande. 

Megan Venables and Courtney Chapman have a little bit better chops for the longer distances than the previously mentioned girls, but do not quite have the leg speed to compare with them. If these two can get some good miles in this summer, they should rise up and push the middle-distance girls for the no. 3-5 spots. 

The recruiting class for Villanova this year is solid, though not sizable. Julie Williams is an immediate impact distance runner that has experience running well for the mile and two-mile races. Katie Brislin has outstanding track PRs and will also be able to contribute "from the gun." Brislin and Williams both come from high-profile high school teams-Fayatteville-Manlius and Tatnall and will bring their top-notch prep experience to an already very good returning Villanova squad. 

The good news for the Wildcats is that every single athlete that competed in Louisville in 2012 returns for them in 2013. This not counting the loss of Summer Cook who decided to focus on the triathlon and moved to Colorado Springs to train with the OTC group there.

With all of these girls returning, Villanova will have the hunger to improve from 2012 and to make a statement in 2013. The pieces are there for a top-10 teams. Two awesome low-sticks up front (Lipari and Akande) and a bunch of very good middle-distance girls and high school stand-outs.

 If things come together like they should, Villanova will have a fun battle through their conference and regional with Georgetown. Their front-runners will help keep their score low enough at Nationals and they will be looking at a big improvement this season at Nationals from 20th to 7th in Terre Haute.

Kelsey Margey Captures Silver Medal at Pan Am Juniors

Villanova's rising sophomore Kelsey Margey -- the 2013 USA Junior Champion in the 1500 meters -- capped off a tremendous outdoor track season today by claiming the silver medal in the 1500 meter final at the Pan Am Junior Championships in Medallin, Colombia.  Running a slow sit-and-kick race in soggy conditions, Margey crossed the line in 4:38.84, bested only by Canadian Junior Champion Julia Zrinyi, who won in 4:36.88; Zrinyi and Margey came in as favorites, with PRs of 4:16.48 (Zrinyi) and 4:17.14 (Margey), and the race played out to form. Zrinyi, who competes for the University of Connecticut, was the only freshman to qualify for NCAA Nationals in the 1500 and she carried an 800-meter PR of 2:04.38.

This international silver medal comes on the heels of Margey's USA Junior Championships gold medal (where she ran 4:25.45), and a Penn Relays Championship of America in the NCAA-record setting 4x800 meters. Quite a haul for a first collegiate campaign!

2013 Pan Am Junior Championship -- 1500 meters
1.  Julia Zrinyi            CAN      4:36.88
2.  Kelsey Margey           USA      4:38.84
3.  Arantza Hernandez       MEX      4:39.85
4.  Maria Pia Fernandez     URG      4:41.05
5.  Rachel Stewart          USA      4:43.75
6.  Margy Andrea Rivera     COL      4:46.45
7.  Belen Casseta           ARG      4:49.97
8.  Gabriela Stafford       CAN      4:53.35
9.  Andie Daniela Legarda   COL      4:59.32

Sunday, August 25, 2013

On this Day in 1985
Sydney Maree sets USA National Record that Lasts 21 Years

On this day in 1985 in Cologne, Germany former Villanova great Sydney Maree set a new USA National Record over 1500 meters, running 3:29.77. His AR would stand for 21 years until it was broken in 2006 by Bernard Lagat. At the time of his 1985 record, Maree was a former world record holder at that distance (3:31.24, also set in Cologne, on August 28, 1983, when he broke the record of Steve Ovett). A month earlier in 1985, Maree had established the USA National Record over 5000 meters, when he ran 13:01.15 -- at the time the third fastest time in history by any man -- in Oslo on July 27. In all, Maree set American records over four distances: 1500, 2000, 3000, and 5000 meters. While running for Villanova, Maree was a three-time NCAA individual champion: over 1500 meters (1980 and 1981) and 5000 meters (1979). He anchored two NCAA championship DMR squads (1980, 1981), and was a 7-time Penn Relays champion. He was 5th in the 5000 at the 1988 Olympic Games.

By standard measure (the stopwatch) Sydney Maree is the greatest male runner in the illustrious history of the Villanova program. His accomplishments are the stuff of legend: a world record over 1500 meters (3:31.24 in August 1983), American Records at 1500 meters (3:29.77 in 1985), 2000 meters (4:54.20 in 1985), 3000 meters (7:33.37 in 1984), and 5000 meters (13:01.15 in 1985). In 1981 he won the first 5th Avenue Mile in 3:47.52; to this day over 30 years later it's the fastest 5th Avenue Mile ever run.  His mile PR (3:48.83) is faster than those of Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O'Sullivan.  Same for the 1500. He won multiple NCAA championships over 1500 and 5000 meters. We was an All-American in cross country. In 1981 he was the first Black to receive the South African Athlete of the Year award.

Here are the results from the 1985 race, in which Maree crushed two Olympic medalists (Abascal and Boit).

1985 Cologne 1500 meters
1.  Sydney Maree           USA     3:29.77   USA NR
2.  Jose Manuel Abascal    ESP     3:32.73
3.  Omer Khalifa           SUD     3:35.67
4.  Vincent Rousseau       BEL     3:36.38
5.  Mike Boit              KEN     3:36.55
6.  Michael Hillardt       AUS     3:36.93
7.  Pierre Deleze          FRA     3:37.46
8.  Peter Wirz             SUI     3:37.83
9.  Pat Scammell           AUS     3:37.96

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mark Carberry Returns to Villanova as Assistant T&F Coach

Marcus O'Sullivan has filled the assistant coach vacancy that was created when Adrian Blincoe left Villanova in August 2012 to return to his native New Zealand.  Mark Carberry, a Villanova track and cross country team member from 2000-2004, has left his position at NCAA Division 1 St. Mary's College in Walnut, California, where since 2010 he has served as associate head coach of cross country and track, to return to his alma mater.

Carberry was 3x All-Big East at Villanova
Prior to his arrival at St. Mary's College, Carberry from 2008-2010 was the top cross country and track assistant coach at Division III Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. At Tufts, Carberry was the primary coach for 8 NCAA Division III All Americans and 15 NCAA Division III national qualifiers.  He was also co-director of recruiting and development for the middle and long-distance athletes. He will assume similar duties at Villanova in replacing Adrian Blincoe.

Carberry came to Villanova in 2000 from Xavier high school in Middletown, Connecticut and developed into a three-time All Big East performer.  In 2003 and 2004 he was part of the Wildcats' all conference 4x800 meter squad, and he earned individual all-conference honors in the 1000 meters in 2004. He was a three-year letterman in cross country.

After graduating with a degree in political science from Villanova in 2004, Carberry has earned two Master's degrees: from Florida State University (2008) in political science, and from Tufts University (2010) in physical education and coaching development.  Carberry has earned his USATF Level 1 certification.

On this Day in 1977
Marty Liquori Sets American Record over 5000 Meters

Villanova's legendary Marty Liquori finished 1977 ranked #1 in the world at 5000 meters -- the last American to achieve that ranking.  His top ranking for the year was solidified by his August 24, 1977 victory in the 5000 meters at the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich.  There he defeated reigning world record holder Dick Quax of New Zealand and Ethiopia's Miruts Yifter (who would go on to win both the 5000 and 10,000 meter Gold Medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics).  His time of 13:16.0 broke Duncan McDonald's extant American record of 13:19.40 set on August 10, 1976.  Liquori would go on to break his own American record 11 days later in Dusseldorf when he ran 13:15.06.

Zurich Weltklasse 5000
1.  Marty Liquori   USA     13:16.0  AR
2.  Dick Quax       NZL     13:17.3
3.  Miruts Yifter   ETH     13:21.6

Here is a "greatest hits" video for Liquori.  The two 5000 meter national records start at the 2:20 mark of the video.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Cook Leaves Villanova to Pursue Triathlon Career

Cook was a two-sport star at Villanova
Villanova's Summer Cook has announced her decision to skip her final year of collegiate eligibility to remain at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs.  Cook was recruited by USA Triathlon in June to enter the Collegiate Recruiting Program at the OTC because of her status as an excellent two-sport athlete at Villanova.  Cook was All-Big East in swimming, track, and cross country, was named All-Mid Atlantic Region in cross country, and qualified for NCAA regionals on the track in the 5000 meters.  In the pool, Cook recently finished second in the Big East in the 1000 meter freestyle.  As a result, USA Triathlon identified her obvious potential as a triathlete and extended an invitation to train at the OTC.  As could be expected from her swimming and running prowess, Cook has been focusing the majority of her time this summer on the cycling side of the sport.  Cook has already graduated from Villanova, with a degree in political science; she was successful in the classroom as well, being named by the USTFCCCA to its All-Academic team in 2013.

 Here is Summer's statement, released on her blog over the weekend:

Leap of Faith

Not long ago I was making plans that revolved around cross country, grad school, and another year at Villanova. However, plans change. Instead of returning to Villanova for my grad degree and final year of NCAA eligibility, I have decided to take a leap of faith and remain at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to pursue my craziest dreams.

To make a long story short, this was a very last minute decision. After multiple conversations with my parents and the coaching staffs at both Villanova and the OTC, I determined that the best choice would be for me to forgo my final year as a Wildcat. During these conversations, I learned that I might be able to stay at the OTC, which was confirmed a short time later to be an option. This decision was very difficult and emotional for me. I’m going to miss running cross country and I’m going to miss my teammates even more. But, I ultimately think this is the best long term decision for me and I would regret not taking this risk. I will forever be grateful to Gina (and the girls) for giving me a chance. A mere four years ago I was heading off to college solely as a swimmer. I never imagined I would discover that I’m better at running than I ever was at swimming. I certainly didn't think that I would have the opportunity to train at the OTC. I want to give triathlon my full efforts as I've already done in my other two disciplines. No matter when I begin this, it would have been a risk. When I was struggling to make my choice, I realized that the biggest thing holding me back was fear. That fear will be present next year or at any given point down the road. I choose to face that fear now.

Currently my life is filled with changing plans and training. I do have my Master’s Degree partially completed and I plan to finish it in the near future, although specifics are undefined as of yet. I plan to race a few triathlons before the end of the season, and I have officially registered for my first tri! I will be participating in the Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon in Aurora, Colorado. The race is a 750m swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run. The goal of the race is to establish a benchmark to see where I am, especially on the bike, and also to feel out what racing a triathlon is like. I spent much of my first six weeks here on bike skills and only recently started aerobic rides. I’m also a complete transition newbie so this experience will be hugely valuable! Everyone needs a starting point and this will be mine.

Here’s to taking a gamble – even when you aren't a gambler. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

This Time Frank O'Mara Hands Off to Marcus O'Sullivan

Twenty-eight years ago this month, four of Ireland’s greatest milers -- two of whom attained greatness at Villanova -- combined to set a World Record of 15:49.08 in the 4-mile relay at Dublin’s Belfield Stadium (see video above).  Eamonn Coghlan, recovering from niggling injuries and pushed by the “B” team’s John Treacy the entire way, led off in 4:00.2.  Coghlan handed the baton to fellow Villanovan Marcus O’Sullivan, who proceeded to run the quickest split (3:55.3) of the day.  Marcus turned it over to Frank O’Mara, who ran 3:56.6, and Ray Flynn anchored in 3:57.0. That O'Sullivan-to-O'Mara handoff involved two men who went on to win a combined 5 world championships (O'Mara two at 3000i meters; O'Sullivan three at 1500i meters).  On that day in Dublin they ran the two fastest legs in a world record effort that has yet, nearly three decades later, to be eclipsed.  The previous mark of 15:59.57 was set by a John Walker-led New Zealand team in 1983. No foursome has been able to best this 1985 mark in the intervening years.

Flash ahead 28 years to the present.  This month, Frank O'Mara returned the favor: he handed off his son Colin to Marcus.  Colin O'Mara (bib 159, right), who recently graduated from Catholic High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, will attend Villanova and compete under Marcus's tutelage for Villanova track and cross country.  He'll be teammates with Marcus's son Chris.  The two sons may someday soon exchange the baton on a Villanova relay team, closing the circle of a record-setting Irish relay exchange from 1985.

Marcus O'Sullivan (right) and Frank O'Mara (423) battling at the front in 1983

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Key Newcomers Join Villanova Track & Field

As the student body returns to campus for the start of the 2013-14 academic year, the 2013 cross country season is right around the corner.  Here's a look at some key members of Villanova's incoming class of cross country and track & field athletes.

Ben Malone (800/1500)
(Hillsdale, New Jersey)
Ben Malone is Villanova's top middle distance recruit in the 2013 class.  He brings his 2013 USA #2 1500 meter PR of 3:46.97 (a New Jersey state prep record) and 4:05.59 mile PR to the Main Line, as well as a 2012 national prep indoor title over 800 meters, when he ran the USA all-time #2 prep time of 1:49.94.  Malone's recent exploits in 2013 include a victory in the Millrose Games prep mile and a win over University of Oregon-bound Edward Cheserek over the mile distance at the Loucks Games in New York.  Malone adds additional depth from 800 meters through 3000 meters, joining redshirt freshman Josh Lampron and veterans Sam McEntee, Jordy Williamsz, Rob Denault, Sam Ellison, and Chris FitzSimons.  Malone will be valuable right away in relays as well, as he can be plugged into any DMR distance, including 400 meters.  He is one of the most anticipated local recruits to Villanova in some time.

Patrick Tiernan (1500/5000/10,000/XC)
(Queensland, Australia)
Tiernan is Villanova's most significant bona fide distance recruit in many years.  He is a true cross country/distance man -- not a converted miler running beyond his optimal distance: he views the 5000 as his prime distance. Tiernan is especially accomplished in cross country.  He's a 3-time Australian national XC champion (U-12, U-18, and U-20) and in 2012 took home three Australian titles: cross country, 1500 meters, and 5000 meters.  He also claimed a road win at the 2012 Southern Cross University 10K.  He brings impressive PRs of 3:50.67 (1500) 8:11 (3000), 14:40 (5000), 30:34 (10K).  Tiernan, who enrolled at Villanova in January, could break into Nova's top 5 in cross this season.

 Ayo Obadare (400 meters)
(Long Island, New York)
Ayo Obadare comes to Villanova from Elmont Memoral high school on Long Island as a 400 meter specialist.  He won that event at the 2013 Loucks Games, where he ran his PR of 48.03.  Obadare also took the 400 win indoors in January at the New Balance Games at the Armory.  His PRs are 22.66 (200), 34.40 (300), 48.03 (400) and 1:26.10 (600).

Colin O'Mara (mile/3000/5000/XC)
(Little Rock, Arkansas)
The son of Irish Olympian and two-time world indoor 3000 meter champion Frank O'Mara, Colin O'Mara (bib 159, left) will run under the tutelage of Marcus O'Sullivan this fall.  O'Mara hails from the same high school as Villanova teammate Alex Tully.  He brings PRs of 4:21.67 (mile), 9:02.94 (3000), 9:49.94 (3200) and 16:24.80 (5K XC).  In fall 2012, O'Mara finished 9th in the 7A Arkansas state cross country championship meet.  He covered the 5K distance in 16:24.80 -- up from his 12th place finish at the 2011 state meet.

Julie Williams (800/1500/5000/XC)
(Wilmington, Delaware)
Jule Williams comes to Villanova from nearby Wilmington, Delaware, where she ran at the Tatnall School.  A versatile runner from 800 meters to cross country, Williams finished 5th in the mile at the 2013 Nike Outdoor Nationals, setting a new PR of 4:51.37.  In December 2012 she ran 11:05.57 over two miles, at the time the #4 indoor mark in the USA prep ranks.  She was Delaware state runner up in cross country in 2012 and qualified for Nike Cross Country Nationals in 2011.  During the 2012 cross country season, Williams was 23rd at the Great American XC Festival in North Carolina and 18th at the Nike Cross Country Southeast Regional.  She boasts the following PRs: 2:14.40 (800), 4:32.06 (1500), 10:50.56 (2 mile), 9:53.87 (3000) and 18:15.50 (5K XC).

Katie Brislin (800/1500/3000/5000)
(Manlius, New York)
2013 New York state runner-up in the 1500 meters, Katie Brislin joins former prep teammate Courtney Chapman on Villanova's squad.  She hails from the cross country powerhouse at Fayetteville-Manlius high school, which is riding a 7-year run as USA national champions.  In December 2012, Brislin finished an impressive 29th at Nike Cross Country Nationals in San Diego.  In June of this year, Brislin finished as New York state runner over over 1500 meters in a new PR of 4:29.25.  She brings with her the following PRs: 2:13.80 (800), 2:57.00 (1000), 4:29.25 (1500), 10:18.41 (3000), and 17:51.40 (5k XC).

Kalissa Caesar (55/100/200)
(Port Jervis, New York)
Kalissa Caesar will bring her sprint talents to Villanova this fall.  A 100/200 meter specialist, Caesar finished 14th in the 100 meters at the 2013 New York state outdoor meet, after finishing 9th at the 2012 meet.  Her PRs are 7.45 (55 meters), 12.34 (100 meters), and 25.50 (200 meters).  She is also a 14' 4" long jumper. 

Emma Biggs (100/200)
(Amherst, Massachusetts)
The conference 200 meter champion (and school record holder at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School), Emma Biggs will bring added sprint talent to Villanova this fall.  Biggs has PRs of 7.75 (55 meters), 11.54 (55m hurdles), 13.13 (100), 25.82 (200), and 43.16 (300).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Koons Takes Top-10 Finish at Falmouth Road Race

Frances Koons, a 10-time All American and 2009 NCAA indoor runner-up over 5000 meters while at Villanova, came 9th (3rd American) this past weekend at the Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts.  One of the premier road races in the United States, this year's events drew a top-quality international field.  In finishing 9th in 38:06 over the 7-mile course, Koons bested several name-brand competitors.  Here are the top results on the women's side:

Pos.NameCity, StateBibSexAgePaceTime
1 Joyce Chepkirui  Kenya13F245:10 /mi  36:42.75
2 Gemma Steel  Great Britain35F275:13 /mi  37:05.73
3 Linet Masai  Kenya58F235:14 /mi  37:06.49
4 Diane Nukuri Johnson  Burundi34F285:15 /mi  37:15.17
5 Adrienne Herzog  Netherlands20F275:16 /mi  37:20.79
6 Alexi Pappas  Eugene, OR28F235:17 /mi  37:31.90
7 Katie Matthews   Rocky Hill, CT33F225:20 /mi  37:49.57
8 Jane Murage  Kenya17F265:21 /mi  37:57.72
9 Frances Koons  Bryn Mawr, PA60F275:22 /mi  38:06.97
10 Delilah DiCrescenzo  New York City, NY15F245:24 /mi  38:22.09

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marcus O'Sullivan's Trophy Art from Olympic Games #4

It's been 17 years since Marcus O'Sullivan ran in his 4th and final Olympics Games in Atlanta. In all these years, he has not taken his final Olympic race bib off his singlet.  He competed in 1984, 1988 (where he was an Olympic finalist in Seoul at 1500 meters), 1992, and 1996.

Olympic singlet #4 (1996 Atlanta) for Marcus O'Sullivan