May 31, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Sophomore Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) and freshman Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) each qualified for the NCAA Championships during the final night of competition in the NCAA East Preliminary at Hodges Stadium on Saturday night. Williamsz qualified in the 1500 meters and Tiernan advanced in the 5000 meters as the pair of countrymen each secured their first career appearances in the national meet. Villanova has a total of four qualifiers for the NCAA Championships, which take place from June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
A strong finish over the final 250 meters propelled Williamsz to a second place finish in his heat and an automatic qualifying spot in the national championships. Williamsz and junior Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) each ran in the second of two quarterfinal heats in the 1500 meters. The top five spots in each heat and the next two fastest times earned qualifying spots for the national championships. The second heat featuring Williamsz and McEntee went out slowly and the early pace all but assured that only the top five finishers in the heat would advance. Williamsz crossed the finish line in 3:45.90 and McEntee registered a time of 3:46.05.
Early on McEntee and Williamsz settled into positions in third and fourth place with the pack of 12 runners tightly packed through the first 700 meters. They each held their positions until the pack started to break up with less than 300 meters to go. On the back stretch of the track Williamsz made a big move with 250 meters left and McEntee followed along behind him. They were each part of a furious sprint to the finish.
At the finish line the top six runners in the heat were separated by only two-tenths of a second and there was a gap of only four-hundredths of a second between the fourth and sixth place runners. Williamsz registered a time of 3:45.90 to come in second behind Rorey Hunter of Indiana, who won the heat in 3:45.85. Grant Pollock of Virginia Tech was third (3:45.91) and Joel Hubbard of Syracuse came in fourth (3:46.01), while Matt Hillenbrand of Kentucky (3:46.04) and McEntee (3:46.05) were separated by only a hundredth of a second in fifth and sixth places.
Tiernan ran in the second national semifinal heat of the 5000 meters and finished fourth with a time of 14:14.57 to earn one of the five automatic qualifying spots in his heat. His time ranked him 11th overall out of the 44 runners in two semifinal heats. Junior Brian Basili (South Orange, N.J.) came in 38th overall and 19th in his heat with a time of 14:58.55.
A tight race in the second heat eventually gave way to a frenetic finish over the final 400 meters. Tiernan settled into the middle of the pack early on in the race and made a move for the front of the pack after the first 2000 meters. He was in third place with seven laps to go and took the lead with six laps remaining, then increased his lead to as much as a two-second advantage with three laps left.
The runners in the chase pack started to make a move on Tiernan with 600 meters to go and when the bell rang for the final lap Tiernan and Nick Happe of Notre Dame were running shoulder to shoulder. They stayed that way as they came down the backstretch of the track and were eventually passed by eventual winner Isaac Presson of North Carolina with 200 meters remaining. The five qualifiers for the NCAA Championships wound up being separated by only 2.6 seconds at the finish line.
John Bleday of Dartmouth came in second in the heat (14:13.33) and Andrew Colley of North Carolina State (14:14.34) was third ahead of Tiernan, while Happe finished fifth in 14:15.04 and was the final qualifier. The two at-large qualifying spots each came from the first heat.
Three days of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary yielded four Wildcats qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. In addition to Williamsz and Tiernan qualifying on Saturday evening, junior Elbert Maxwell (Pittsburgh, Pa.) qualified in the long jump on Thursday evening and senior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) advanced in the 800 meters on Friday night. The four qualifiers for the national meet are the most Villanova has had since also sending four competitors to the NCAA Championships in 2002.
The schedule for the Wildcats at the national meet will begin with the national semifinals of the 800 meters on Wednesday, June 11. The semifinals of the 1500 meters and the trials and final in the long jump are on Thursday, June 12. The national championship races in both the 800 meters and the 5000 meters are on Friday, June 13, while the final of the 1500 meters is on Saturday, June 14.
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
1500 Meters (National Quarterfinals)
Jordy Williamsz 9th of 24 3:45.90 - 2nd in heat Sam McEntee 13th 3:46.05 - 6th in heat
5000 Meters (National Semifinals)
Patrick Tiernan 11th of 44 14:14.57 - 4th in heat Brian Basili 38th 14:58.55 - 19th in heat