May 30, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - For the third straight season Villanova senior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) will be headed to the NCAA Championships to run in the 800 meters. Ellison finished third in his national quarterfinal heat during competition at the NCAA East Preliminary at Hodges Stadium on Friday night to secure his spot at the national meet in Eugene, Ore. next month.
One day after running in the national first round of the 800 meters, Ellison set a new personal best for an open race with a time of 1:47.60 in the second of three quarterfinal heats on Friday night. That mark is two hundredths of a second faster than the time he ran in the final at the national championships as a sophomore two years ago. The top three finishers in each of the three quarterfinal heats earned automatic spots in the national meet and Ellison did all he needed to do in order to finish in one of those spots.
The race went out fast with Brandon McBride of Mississippi State setting the pace with a split of 51.49 over the first 400 meters. Ellison and McBride had also been in the same first round heat one day earlier and in that race McBride cruised to an early lead before Ellison closed the gap and nearly chased him down.
In the quarterfinal race Ellison was in sixth place after 400 meters but was never far from the front of the pack. He remained in fifth place with 200 meters to go and kicked into final gear at that point for the home stretch. Ellison moved into the top three with 100 meters remaining and then comfortably put distance between himself and the fourth place runner behind him.
McBride wound up winning the heat with a time of 1:46.80, while Eliud Rutto of Middle Tennessee State was second in 1:47.19. Ellison followed in third place and Harry McFann of Columbia came in fourth with a time of 1:48.15.
Competition in the preliminary meet wraps up on Saturday evening and there will be plenty to watch for from the four Wildcats who will be running. Junior Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) and sophomore Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) compete in the national quarterfinals of the 1500 meters at 6:30 p.m., while junior Brian Basili (South Orange, N.J.) and freshman Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) compete in the national semifinals of the 5000 meters at 8:05 p.m.
NOTES: Ellison is the second Villanova athlete to punch his ticket for the NCAA Championships ... Junior long jumper Elbert Maxwell (Pittsburgh, Pa.) qualified for the national meet on Thursday evening by coming in 11th in his event with a personal best mark of 7.52 meters ... Maxwell is the Wildcats first field athlete to reach the NCAA Championships since javelin thrower Marco Radocaj competed at the national meet in 2008.
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
800 Meters (National Quarterfinals)
Samuel Ellison 3rd of 25 1:47.60 - 3rd in heat