June 6, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa--Villanova sophomore Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) and freshman Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia are ready for the start of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which are being hosted this week on the Drake campus. Both have advanced to the national semifinals of their respective events; Ellison in the 800 meters and McEntee in the 1500 meters. All of the events at this week's championships take place at Drake Stadium and Ellison and McEntee are each making their first career appearances at the outdoor national meet.
The semifinal heats in the 800 meters are on Wednesday night beginning at 6:15 p.m. and Ellison is in the second of three heats. From each heat the top two finishers will automatically advance to the national championship race on Friday evening, while the next two fastest times will advance on time to the finals.
Ellison ran the fastest 800 meters of his career in his most recent race, which came in the national quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago. He crossed the finish line in 1:47.76 in that race, finishing third in his heat and fourth overall out of 27 runners that qualified for the quarterfinals.
At the regional meet Ellison ran in the first of three quarterfinal heats and five of the nine runners in that heat advanced to the NCAA finals site. All five are racing in the same semifinal heat on Wednesday night and Ellison will see familiar faces in Aaron Evans (Georgia), Curtis Beach (Duke), Howard Shepard (Louisiana State) and Shawn Roberts (Georgia Tech). In fact all eight of the runners in Ellison's heat are from the East region, with Felix Kitur (VMI), Harry McFann (Columbia) and Darrin Gibson (Florida State) making up the rest of the heat.
McEntee will race in the second of two heats in the 1500 meters at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday evening. He was an automatic qualifier for the national semifinals after placing third in his heat in the quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional meet. The top five finishers in each semifinal heat and the next two fastest times advance to the national championship race on Saturday morning.
The top time of the season for McEntee in the 1500 meters is 3:36.81, also a personal best and the 10th fastest outdoor time in NCAA history. That mark came at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet last month, while most recently McEntee registered a time of 3:48.73 in the quarterfinals at the regional meet.
McEntee was part of a close quarterfinal race at the East Regional in which the top five finishers in his heat were separated by just 0.63 seconds. McEntee was third in that leading group and all five runners are in the same semifinal heat. McEntee will be joined by Rich Peters (Boston University), Erik van Ingen (Binghamton), Trevor van Ackeren (Princeton) and Brett Johnson (Virginia) in a heat that is evenly split between six runners from the East region and six runners from the West region.
For both Ellison and McEntee the outdoor season has been an excellent one. They each ran legs of the two Wildcats relays at the Penn Relays, with McEntee anchoring the distance medley relay and Ellison taking the anchor of the 4x800 meter relay. One week later both runners were BIG EAST champions, with Ellison capturing the 800 meters and McEntee the 5000 meters.
Ellison is the lone BIG EAST representative at the finals site in the 800 meters, while McEntee and Johnathan Shawel of Notre Dame are each running in the 1500 meters. Overall the conference has 18 men's entries in Des Moines.
START LISTS AND SCHEDULE FOR BOTH EVENTS
Wednesday, June 6 - 6:15 PM
Men's 800 Meters - Semifinal Heats
3 Heats. Advance top 2 from each heat plus next best 2 to final
Shawn Roberts, Georgia Tech
Howard Shepard, Louisiana State
Samuel Ellison, Villanova
Curtis Beach, Duke
Aaron Evans, Georgia
Felix Kitur, VMI
Harry McFann, Columbia
Darrin Gibson, Florida State
Thursday, June 7 - 6:15 PM
Men's 1500 Meters - Semifinals Heats
2 Heats. Advance top 5 from each heat plus next best 2 times
Patrick McGregor, Texas
Patrick Casey, Oklahoma
Lawi Lalang, Arizona
Eric Harasyn, Oklahoma
Patrick Todd, Virginia
Trevor Van Ackeren, Princeton
Rich Peters, Boston University
Rob Finnerty, Wisconsin
Erik van Ingen, Binghamton
Nick Hutton, Minnesota
Brett Johnson, Virginia
Samuel McEntee, Villanova
Friday, June 8 - 6:10 PM
Men's 800 Meters - National Championship
Saturday, June 9 - 11:17 AM
Men's 1500 Meters - National Championship