July 15, 2014
NEW YORK--In the annual announcement of Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence award winners, Villanova had a BIG EAST best four selections. The awards are presented annually by the conference for the purpose of recognizing student-athletes for academic and athletic achievements as well as community service. Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards are presented to one student-athlete in each of 21 sports sponsored by the conference.
The award winners from the Wildcats include men's lacrosse senior John LoCascio, women's swimming & diving junior Katrin Heider and men's track & field senior Samuel Ellison, who was both the indoor track & field and outdoor track & field winner. He was also the track & field award winner last year and Villanova now has a total of seven BIG EAST Scholar-Athletes of the Year in the past two years.
Ellison was named a Fulbright Scholar earlier this spring and will continue both his academic studies as well as his athletic career overseas at the University of Birmingham during the coming year. He was a seven-time All-American during his Wildcats career and during his senior year helped lead Villanova to BIG EAST titles both indoors and outdoors. Ellison was a first team All-American in the 800 meters indoors as a senior and was also a second team All-American in the distance medley relay. He was also the indoor BIG EAST champion in the 500 meters.
During the outdoor season, Ellison was an honorable mention All-American in the 800 meters. He also anchored the Wildcats to a Championship of America title in the 4x800 meter relay at the Penn Relays, as well as anchoring Villanova to a BIG EAST title in the 4x400 relay. Ellison finished second individually in the 800 meters at the conference meet as the Wildcats finished off their 2013-14 BIG EAST "triple crown" with conference championships in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
LoCascio is just the second Villanova men's lacrosse player to be named a first team All-American. He finished his career as one of the most decorated athletes in program history and is a two-time USILA All-American after being named a third team pick in 2013. LoCascio the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014, as well as a unanimous first team All-BIG EAST selection in each of those years. He was also a 2014 Tewaaraton Trophy nominee, a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team as well as being chosen as a USILA Scholar All-American.
As a senior in 2014, LoCascio had 77 ground balls and 36 caused turnovers while adding five goals and 13 assists. He finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history in caused turnovers (123) and fifth in ground balls (241). Following the conclusion of the Villanova season, LoCascio entered the professional ranks with the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse.
Heider was named the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Women's Swimming & Diving Performer of the Year this spring after leading Villanova to its first conference championship in 18 years. She was the individual BIG EAST champion in both the 100 yard freestyle and the 200 yard freestyle, while also being a member of the 200, 400 and 800 yard freestyle relays. Her efforts helped lead the Wildcats to a dominant performance at the BIG EAST Championships, where Villanova won 14 of the 18 events contested.
Over the past three years Heider has been an eight-time All-BIG EAST selection, including six times in the relays to go along with her two individual titles this past season. She is also part of a Wildcats team which continues to excel academically. Villanova was named a CSCAA Scholar All-America team for the spring semester, while Heider earned her third straight appearance on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.