Feb. 18, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Freshman distance runner Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) set an indoor school record in the 5000 meters at the Iowa State Classic last weekend. Tiernan registered a time of 13:37.73 at Lied Recreation Center and broke the previous Villanova mark of 13:38.3 which Sydney Maree set nearly 33 years ago.
In addition to breaking one of the longest-standing school records Tiernan also became the first Wildcats athlete in 12 years to break any school mark in an individual running event. The last Villanova running record of any kind to fall was the indoor 3000 meters mark which was set by Adrian Blincoe during the 2001-02 indoor season.
Sydney Maree set the old indoor school record of 13:38.3 at Madison Square Garden during the Millrose Games on February 6, 1981. Aside from being a school record Maree's time was even more impressive considering the venue and the type of track he was running on. Maree also holds the Wildcats outdoor record in the 5000 meters with a time of 13:20.7 which was set on June 2, 1979.
"That is a really impressive time for that track that Sydnee Maree ran at Madison Square Garden," Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "It was an 11-lap to the mile wooden track back in those days. Times have changed and those tracks are almost non-existent now."
Tiernan and Wisconsin senior Reed Connor went head-to-head at the Iowa State Classic last Friday night, with Tiernan holding the lead for the majority of the race. Connor wound up winning by the narrowest of margins with a time of 13:37.42, with Tiernan crossing the finish line just 0.31 seconds later. Their two times are now the top two times in the nation in the 5000 meters this season.
In his first year of collegiate competition Tiernan has burst onto the national scene in a big way. His time in the 5000 meters at the Iowa State Classic also surpassed the previous meet and Lied Recreation Center facility record. It was just the second race of the indoor season for Tiernan, who also set a meet and venue record in his first race. That came at the Penn State National last month, when Tiernan won the 3000 meters in 7:57.75. He currently ranks 20th nationally in the 3000 meters.
During the cross country season Tiernan was both an All-American and the Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year, as chosen by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Tiernan finished 10th at the NCAA Championships after winning the individual titles at the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. He added All-Mid Atlantic Region and All-BIG EAST accolades to his accomplishments for the fall.
Villanova enjoyed an incredible weekend at the Iowa State Classic, where the distance medley relay squad lowered its time for the year and Tiernan was joined in making individual headlines by senior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) and sophomores Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) and Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.).
Williamsz made his own run at a long-standing Wildcats record - also held by Maree - with a sensational race in the Mile. He came in first out of 33 runners with a time of 3:56.84 to register the first official sub-four minute mile of his career. Williamsz was within 1.34 seconds of the indoor Villanova record and his time is the fastest for a Wildcats runner (either indoors or outdoors) since O'Sullivan ran faster during his own racing career.
The mark of 3:56.84 for Williamsz ranks third in the nation this season. He is one of 36 Villanovans who have run at least one sub-four minute mile or the metric equivalent. Of the 36 members in that exclusive club, just 12 have run a faster mile than Williamsz did last weekend. Prior to the race Williamsz had already run 4:00.18 this season at the Penn State National. He also posted a sub-four minute split in the 4xMile Relay at the Penn Relays last season. Before coming to Villanova, Williamsz had registered a time of 3:36.74 in the 1500 meters back in Australia.
Denault is also one of the Wildcats sub-four minute milers. His time of 3:59.89 at Iowa State was the second sub-four mark of his career. Last season Denault competed at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame and recorded a mark of 3:59.39 and later in the year he ran 3:41.58 in the 1500 meters at the NCAA East Regional outdoors.
Ellison also had an outstanding race in the 800 meters. His time of 1:48.40 is the fastest he has run indoors and is also the top indoor mark by any Villanova runner since at least 2001. The indoor school record of 1:47.84 was set by John Marshall during the 1981-82 indoor season. Over the past decade Ellison is the only Wildcats athlete to break 1:49 indoors in the 800 meters and he has now done so on two occasions. Last year at the Penn State National he had posted a time of 1:48.62 on January 26, 2013. Ellison's time of 1:48.40 at Iowa State currently ranks 12th in the nation.
Villanova currently ranks fifth in the nation in the distance medley relay and moved up two spots on the national performance list after recording a time of 9:35.08 at Iowa State. Sophomore Dusty Solis (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led off the DMR in Iowa and was followed by Ellison and seniors Chris FitzSimons (Hamden, Conn.) and Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia). The Wildcats finished in first place and were less than two-tenths of a second faster than runner-up Georgetown. The top three teams in the relay were all BIG EAST squads, as Butler finished third.
As a result of the performances for Villanova last weekend the team has skyrocketed through the computer-based national team rankings released by the USTFCCCA on Tuesday morning. In the new rankings the Wildcats come in at No. 10 in the nation, a jump of 49 spots in just one week. Villanova is the only BIG EAST team ranked in the top 40.
Coming up this weekend the Wildcats will compete in the BIG EAST Championships at the New York Armory, with competition beginning on Friday morning and wrapping up on Saturday night. A preview of the conference championships will be released on Wednesday afternoon.