UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--Junior middle distance runner Kaley Ciluffo (LeClaire, Iowa) and freshman Rachel McArthur (Bristow, Va.) notched individual victories in the 1000 meters and the 600 meters, respectively, and Villanova got 2018 off to a successful start at the Nittany Lion Challenge on Saturday afternoon. The team had entries in five individual running events, two relays and three field events at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. Freshman sprinter Sarah Jones (Sewell, N.J.) also had a strong day for the Wildcats in advancing to the final of the 60 meter hurdles.
McArthur recorded a winning time of 1:31.68 in the 600 meters and outkicked two runners from Pittsburgh in a close race during the bell lap. She made her initial move on the back straightaway and then surged down the stretch to hold off the pair of Panthers and win by just over half a second. Senior Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) won a later heat in 1:32.71 and came in fourth overall out of 23 competitors. Sophomore Amari Onque-Shabazz (Plainfield, N.J.) was seventh in 1:34.42.
Although the 600 meters has been run relatively infrequently by Villanova over the years, the times posted by McArthur and Margey both make the top five of the Wildcats all-time performance list. McArthur’s winning mark of 1:31.68 is the second-fastest by a Villanova runner in the event, while Margey’s time of 1:32.71 ranks fifth. Margey actually trails herself on the Wildcats list, as she had run a time of 1:32.28 (ranked fourth) in the 600 meters three years ago as a then-junior.
Ciluffo won the 1000 meters in 2:48.47 and, like McArthur in the 600 meters, closed with a strong kick to hold off two challengers on her heels. She had the lead at the start of the bell lap and moved to give herself a cushion with 100 meters to go, but Piper Donaghu of Georgetown and Anna Shields from Point Park went with her and narrowed the gap approaching the finish line. Donaghu nipped Shields at the line to finish second in 2:48.57, while Shields was third in 2:48.67.
Later in the day, the quartet of McArthur, Onque-Shabazz, Ciluffo and Margey combined to run the 4x400 meter relay in 3:49.97 and finish fifth in a field of 15 teams. A group of senior Rebecca Del Rossi (Canton, N.Y.), junior Sammy Bockoven (Hudson, Ohio), freshman Alex Harris (Stony Point, N.Y.) and sophomore Ann Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan.) came in fourth in the 4x800 meter relay with a time of 9:14.44.
Jones and Villanova volunteer assistant coach Monique Morgan competed in the 60 meter hurdles, which Morgan won with times of 8.28 in the preliminary heats and 8.20 in the final. She is ranked third all-time in Wildcats history in the 60 meter hurdles, but Jones moved onto the program’s all-time performance list with a pair of personal bests in the second collegiate meet of her career. She recorded a time of 8.83 in the preliminaries and was ranked fourth out of 26 competitors overall. Jones then finished sixth in the final with a time of 8.79, tying sophomore teammate Danielle Burns for 10th on the Villanova performance list. Jones also finished 10th in the 200 meters with a time of 26.07 later in the afternoon.
In the field events, junior Alex Patrick (Media, Pa.) had a mark of 5.21 meters in the long jump to registere the second-best indoor mark of her career. Senior Bridget Owen (Northborough, Mass.) and junior Adeline Scelzi (Glen Allen, Va.) each cleared the bar at 3.52 meters in the pole vault. That height is the second-best indoors for Owen and the third-best for Scelzi, who is the reigning indoor BIG EAST champion.
Next on the schedule for the Wildcats is the Penn 8-Team Select meet at Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex in Staten Island next Saturday.