Patrick Tiernan Places Seventh in 5000 Meters at NCAA Championships
March 15, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Freshman distance runner Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) ran a steady race from start to finish and came in seventh in the 5000 meters on Friday night as the NCAA Championships got underway. Villanova competed in four events at the Albuquerque Convention Center and had two runners advance to tomorrow evening's finals in their respective events. Sophomore Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) qualified for the final in the Mile and senior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) moved on in the 800 meters.
Tiernan was the BIG EAST champion in the 5000 meters and came into the national meet ranked second among the field of 16 qualifiers. He ran in seventh place early on in the race, in a position where he was just behind the leaders and comfortably ahead of the chase pack. Near the 3000 meters mark Tiernan moved into fifth place and held his position until the top two runners pulled away from everyone else in the last 400 meters.
It was nevertheless a strong ending to a terrific indoor season for Tiernan, who crossed the finish line in 14:00.83. He came in more than eight seconds ahead of Reed Connor from Wisconsin, against whom he had memorably gone head to head with at the Iowa State Classic earlier in the year. Tiernan added to his win at the BIG EAST meet with a third place finish in the 3000 meters to earn All-BIG EAST honors in that event.
Williamsz ran in the second of two preliminary heats in the Mile and came up with a performance that was nothing short of sensational. The top four finishers in each heat qualified automatically for the final and Williamsz placed fourth in his heat to earn one of those automatic qualifying spots. He fought with maximum effort over the final two laps to hold his position and fend off a determined charge from the fifth place runner behind him.
The second heat that Williamsz competed in went out far slower than the first head had and it was clear early on that only the top four finishers in the last heat would advance. Williamsz registered a time of 4:10.18 and finished a mere four-hundredths of a second in front of Steve Mangan from Dartmouth, while the final three runners in the heat were three seconds off Williamsz pace.
Ellison took the opposite route to the same results in the 800 meters, in which the top three runners from each of two heats advanced automatically along with two runners that would advance on time. Ellison was in the first heat and he crossed the finish line fourth with a time of 1:49.53, which forced him to wait out the results of the second heat. Just as had been the case in the Mile, the second heat went out far slower and Ellison didn't have to wait long to feel good about his chances for moving on.
This is the second straight year that Ellison qualified for the indoor NCAA meet in the 800 meters. Tomorrow evening will be his first indoor race in the final of an individual event at the NCAA Championships.
Less than two hours after running his individual event Ellison was back on the track to run the 400 meters leg of the distance medley relay. He joined a Wildcats lineup that also included junior Dusty Solis (Colorado Springs, Colo.) leading off, while seniors Chris FitzSimons (Hamden, Conn.) and Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) followed Ellison for the final two legs of the relay.
Solis ran a competitive 1200 meters leg to open the DMR and was the front runner for most of the first 800 meters. He was caught for the lead with two laps to go and fell back to third place before eventually regaining some of his ground. By the time he handed off to Ellison for the second leg Villanova was in fourth place but was on the heels of the teams in front.
It took little time for Ellison to make a move and he surged up to second place with ease. The front half of the race had become a crowded back by the time Ellison handed the baton to FitzSimons and it was during the third leg of the relay that the leading teams started to make a move and pull away from the pack. Villanova wound up finishing in ninth place and recorded a time of 9:51.63.
Saturday night's schedule for the Wildcats begins with Williamsz in the Mile at 8 p.m. Eastern time (Albuquerque is two hours behind). Ellison will later run in the 800 meters final at 9:20 p.m.