March 1, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With a spot at the NCAA Championships on the line Villanova won its section of the distance medley relay and posted the ninth-fastest time overall with a mark of 9:30.47 in the Alex Wilson Invitational at Loftus Sports Center on Friday night. The lineup of freshman Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia), junior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.), junior Chris Fitzsimons (Hamden, Conn.) and sophomore Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) earned the Wildcats a time that will qualify the team for the national meet next weekend.
The nation's leading time entering the Alex Wilson meet was 9:31.82 and a total of 14 teams ran faster than that mark on Friday night. Villanova had a big lead early and held on late to win the third of three sections of the relay and wound up with a time that was just over three-quarters of a second ahead of the top-12 cutoff in the overall field of 25 teams. The top 12 relays qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Williamsz and Ellison were sensational during the first two legs of the relay and handed the Wildcats a big lead over the other eight teams competing in their section. In the opening 1200 meters leg Williamsz had a split of 2:53, while Ellison followed with an incredible 46-second split in the 400 meters. FitzSimons ran 1:49 and handed off to McEntee with Villanova still well out in front.
As the pack started to run down McEntee during the 1600 meters anchor leg the attention started to turn to the clock, with several qualifying times already up on the board. McEntee had a split of 4:02 and the Wildcats won their section by 0.36 seconds. There wound up being three national qualifiers from the Villanova section, as runner-up Virginia Tech (9:30.83) and third place Indiana (9:31.11) also were among the top 12 overall.
This season will mark the sixth straight that the Wildcats send a distance medley relay team to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. The national meet will be held on March 9-10 at the Randal Tyson Track in Fayetteville, Ark.
Villanova will continue competition at the Alex Wilson Invitational on Saturday afternoon.