May 6, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. - On the final day of competition at the BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships sophomore Samantha Francis (Kingston, Jamaica) won the triple jump and Villanova also captured a BIG EAST title in the 4x800 meter relay at the USF Track & Field Stadium on Sunday afternoon. As a team the Wildcats scored 60.5 points and finished in eighth place in the team standings.
Francis is the first Villanova athlete to win an outdoor title in a field event since 2000 and she did so with easily her best performance of the season. Her winning distance was 12.61 meters and came on her final jump in six attempts. Earlier in the competition Francis had jumped 12.53 meters on her third trip down the runway and 12.40 meters on her fifth jump. This is the first time in her career that Francis has earned All-BIG EAST honors.
Later in the afternoon the Wildcats scored their second title of the day when the 4x800 meter relay squad won by a margin of just seven-hundredths of a second over Notre Dame in a thrilling finish. The lineup of freshman Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.), junior Ariann Neutts (Succasunna, N.J.) and sophomores Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) recorded a winning time of 8:37.65.
The same four runners had also won a BIG EAST title in the 4x800 relay during the indoor season and their first place finish in today's race gives Villanova a total of 15 conference championships in the event. Although this was the first time since 2006 that the Wildcats won the 4x800 relay outdoors it is still the team's fifth outdoor title in the race in the last 10 years.
All four of the runners on the relay earned All-BIG EAST recognition. In addition to running the middle legs of the relay both Akande and Neutts individually scored team points for Villanova in the 800 meters and the 1500 meters, respectively. The team also received points in the 400 meters, high jump, 100 meter hurdles and 200 meters.
In the finals of the 800 meters Akande had a remarkable race which resulted in a runner-up finish. She posted a time of 2:04.56 to establish a new career best in an open race and finished a mere one-hundredth of a second behind Heather Wilson of Connecticut. Akande earned All-BIG EAST honors for finishing in the top three and each of the first five runners to cross the finish line did so in less time than the previous stadium record which had stood for 14 years.
Neutts finished in eighth place in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:28.32, while freshman Courtney Chapman (Fayetteville, N.Y.) came in 10th (4:30.77) and Lipari finished 11th (4:32.62).
In the other running events senior Christie Verdier (Baldwin, N.Y.) finished fourth in the 400 meters (53.93), freshman Emerald Walden (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) was seventh in the 100 meter hurdles (13.88) and freshman Varonica Johnson (Charlotte, N.C.) took eighth place in the 200 meters (25.82). The time for Walden in the 100 meter hurdles was a new personal best.
Sophomore Samantha Yeats (Califon, N.J.) finished in fifth place in the high jump and cleared a height of 1.76 meters.
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
Italics indicate a new personal best time or mark in the event
100 Meter Hurdles
Emerald Walden 7th of 8 13.88
Varonica Johnson 8th of 8 25.82
Christie Verdier 4th of 8 53.93
Nicky Akande 2nd of 9 2:04.56
Ariann Neutts 8th of 12 4:28.32 Courtney Chapman 10th 4:30.77 Emily Lipari 11th 4:32.62
4x800 Meter Relay
Villanova 1st of 12 8:37.58 Stephanie Schappert Ariann Neutts Nicky Akande Emily Lipari
Samantha Francis 1st of 15 12.61 Meters
Samantha Yeats 5th of 12 1.76 Meters