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Wildcat Men and Women Set for NCAA Cross Country Championships



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2000 NCAA Championships

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

November 20, 2000

11:00 a.m. Women/ 12:15 p.m. Men CST

Men's Head Coach Marcus O'Sullivan

A new era in Villanova University Track & Field began on June 22, 1998 when Marcus O'Sullivan was named head coach of the Wildcat track & field program. O'Sullivan returns to the Main Line where he established himself as one of Villanova's all-time great distance runners during his collegiate career from 1980-84. O'Sullivan's appointment at Villanova rates as his first within the collegiate coaching ranks. Beginning in 2000-2001, O'Sullivan will serve as the Director of Villanova Track & Field, and acting as head coach to the men's cross country and track & field programs.

At the prestigious Millrose Games held at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 13, 1998, O'Sullivan ran a sub-4:00 mile for the 100th time in his illustrious career, becoming just the third runner in history to accomplish this feat. With 101 sub-4:00 miles to his credit, O'Sullivan ranks third all-time behind Steve Scott and John Walker.

In the fall of 1998, O'Sullivan started his coaching career in fine fashion as he led the Villanova women to the 1998 NCAA Cross Country National Championship, in addition to guiding the women's squad to the Big East title. For his efforts, O'Sullivan was named 1998 USTCA National Women's Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year and he and his assistants were named Big East Conference Women's Cross Country Staff of the Year.

Last season, O'Sullivan led the Villanova women's team to both the 2000 Big East indoor and outdoor track & field championships. O'Sullivan and his assistants were rewarded by earning the Big East indoor and outdoor track & field Coaching Staff of the Year Award. O'Sullivan was also named the Mid Atlantic Region indoor track & field Coach of the Year.

Running under the guidance of the legendary Jumbo Elliott for one season and Charlie Jenkins for three years, O'Sullivan established himself as one of Villanova's all-time great performers garnering four varsity letters each in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. Throughout his Main Line running career, O'Sullivan captured two NCAA indoor titles, 10 Big East Conference indoor and outdoor titles, two IC4A indoor championships and six Penn Relay Carnival Championship of America watches. In Big East Conference Championships, O'Sullivan posted five first place finishes including the 1981 indoor 1500 meters, both the 1983 cross country crown and indoor 1500 meters and the indoor 1500 meters and outdoor 5000 meters in 1984. He also registered two second place finishes during the 1982 season in both the indoor 800 meters and the outdoor 1500 meters. At the 1981 Big East Conference Indoor Championships, O'Sullivan was named the meet's Most Outstanding Freshman Performer.

O'Sullivan also made his mark at the famous Penn Relay Carnival where he earned six Championship of America watches during his career. His shining moment at the Penn Relays came in 1984 when he ran a relay record 1500 meter split of 3:38.7 during the anchor leg of Villanova's 6000 meter relay squad that finished first in a national collegiate and meet record time of 14:52.81. In 1982, he ran the lead off leg on the Wildcats' 3200 meter relay that finished first in national collegiate and meet record 7:12.29.

Upon graduation from Villanova, O'Sullivan went on to enjoy an outstanding international career that included appearances in four Olympic Games for his native country of Ireland. He competed in the 800m and 1500m in Los Angeles in 1984, was a finalist in the 1500m in Seoul in 1988 and raced in the 1500m at Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. His career highlights include three World Indoor Championships in the 1500m in 1987, 1989 and 1993, as well as a world record in the indoor 1500m (3:35.4) in 1989. This 1500m time, along with his best indoor mile of 3:50.9, remain among the five-best performances ever in those events indoors.

O'Sullivan graduated from Villanova in 1984 with a degree in accounting and went on to earn his MBA from Villanova in 1989. After passing the CPA exam, O'Sullivan served as a part-time faculty member of the Villanova Marketing Department from 1992-93. O'Sullivan's wife, the former Mary Spinks, earned a nursing degree from Villanova in 1986. The couple has two children, Laura (12), and Christopher (9).

Women's Head Coach Gina Procaccio

A new era in Villanova women's track & field began on June 7, 2000 when Gina Proccacio was named the sixth head coach in the program's history. Procaccio is the first female head coach in the 21-year history of Villanova women's track & field.

"When I got into coaching, I knew someday I wanted to be a haed coach. I think it is every coach's dream to coach at their alma mater," said Procaccio. "This is truly a dream that I never imagined would come true."

Having run at Villanova and served as assistant on the Main Line for five seasons (1994-97, 1998-2000) Procaccio is well aware of the tradition of excellence that has been established. In fact, Procaccio has been very instrumenatal in helping Wildcat athletes make a name for themselves on the national scene, including helping the Villanova women to NCAA cross country titles in 1994 and 1998. Over the last two years, Procaccio has guided Villanova distance runners to five NCAA individual championships and All-American honors on 13 occasions.Last year, she was a major factor in leading the Wildcat women to both the Big East Conference indoor and outdoor team championships. All total during her Villanova coaching career, Procaccio has coached eight different runners to All-American distinction and three runners to National Championship status.

A 1987 graduate of Villanova, Procaccio made her mark on Villanova's record book despite only one year of running after transferring from the University of Florida. In her senior season on the Main Line, she placed fifth in the NCAA 1000m and she helped set Collegiate, American and World records as part of the 3,200m relay (8:24.77) and DMR (11:00.76) relay teams.

After her Villanova career, Procaccio went on to run successfully both in national and international competition. She placed fifth in the 1992 United States Olympic Trials in the 1,500m run and she was third at the 1992 United States Cross Country Championships. In 1993, Procaccio earned a spot on the U.S. World Championship team in the 1,500m with a third place finish in that event at the USA Track & Field Championships.

In the summer of 1995, Procaccio was the USA Track & Field national champion at 5,000m and claimed a spot on the United States squad that competed in the World Championships in Goteberg, Sweden. She finished the 1995 season with rankings of No. 1, 2 and 5 in the 3,000m, 5,000m and 1,500m respectively.

Prior to her coaching stint at Villanova, she had served previously for one year (1987-88) as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee and one year (1990-91) as an assistant coach at Georgetown University.

Meet Notes

DOUBLE CHAMPION: Senior Ann McGranahan is running as well as anyone as she enters the 2000 NCAA Championships, winning the last two races she has competed in. At the Big East Championship on October 27 at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass., she won the individual title in a time of 16:59. At the NCAA Regional meet on Nov. 11 at Penn State University, McGranahan once again took home individual honors with a clocking of 20:32.34.

NEW LEADER: On June 7, 2000, Villanova reorganized its cross country/track & field programs, as Gina Procaccio was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of both the Wildcat women's track & field and cross country programs. Former head coach Marcus O'Sullivan will remain as Director of Track & Field/Cross Country and he will serve as the head coach of the Villanova men's track & field and cross country teams.

YOUNG TEAMS: Both the Villanova men and women have young teams who are competing at this year's NCAA meet. For the women, five of the 10 runners on the team are freshmen, while the men's top five runners consist of one junior, three sophomores, and a freshman.

WILDCAT MEN AT REGIONALS: The Villanova men had their finest performance of the year last Saturday, Nov. 11 runners at the NCAA Regional meet held at Penn State. The Wildcats, who finished with 57 ponts, placed second behind Georgetown who was first with 41 points. Villanova had four of the top 11 including sophomore Adrian Blincoe (3rd), freshman Ryan Hayden (9th), sophomore Tom Parlapiano (10th) and sophomore Jon Fasulo (11th). By gaining the automatic bid to the NCAA's, the Villanova men are making their second straight appearance at nationals.

WILDCAT WOMEN AT REGIONALS: Villanova placed third at the NCAA Regional meet with 96 points. Georgetown was first with 36 points, while West Virginia was second with 94. Villanova received an at-large bid to this year's NCAA meet. Leading the way for the Wildcats at Regionals were seniors Ann McGranahan who won the race and Geraldine McCarthy who was 10th. Sophomore Liz Awtrey placed 15th, while freshman Renee' Gunning was 24th. The team's fifth runner, Carre Joyce, was 49th.