LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore middle distance runner Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.) ran a blistering time of 4:13.71 in the national quarterfinal heats of the 1500 meters and secured a spot at the NCAA Championships in her latest remarkable race on Saturday night. Hutchinson was one of 12 qualifiers from the NCAA East Preliminary at the Kentucky Outdoor Track & Field Complex who punched their ticket to the national meet in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
Two nights after running a then-personal best time of 4:18.48 in the first round heats on Thursday evening, Hutchinson shattered that mark with a time nearly five seconds lower. Her new mark puts her into eighth place on the all-time Villanova performance list, but more importantly it earned her a spot at the outdoor NCAA Championships for the first time in her career. The sophomore standout for the Wildcats was a second team All-American in the Mile indoors.
Hutchinson came in sixth in her quarterfinal heat of the 1500 meters and was 10th overall out of the 24 runners who progressed out of the first round. The top five finishers and the next two fastest times from the quarterfinals advanced, and Hutchinson set the standard for the two on-time qualifying spots in the first heat. She was part of the lead pack throughout her entire race and crossed the finish line nearly four seconds ahead of the seventh place finisher and the rest of the chase pack.
The field of 12 runners stayed tightly packed through the first 800 meters, and Hutchinson was in fourth place based on the splits at 300 meters and 700 meters. She was one of six runners at the front entering the bell lap and made a big push to put distance between herself and the runners behind her approaching the finish line. Even after the second heat had been completed, her time comfortably held up by a margin of well over a second to clinch the NCAA bid.
Senior Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) ran in the second quarterfinal heat of the 1500 meters and recorded a time of 4:32.45. The heat was a different one from the first, as Jessica Harris of Notre Dame took a big lead in the first 300 meters and continued to widen the gap between herself and the rest of the field over the next two laps around the track. Karisa Nelson broke away from the rest of the pack by the start of the bell lap as well, with the race on for the 3-4-5 spots over the final 400 meters.
Hutchinson and junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland) will represent Villanova at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. from June 7-10. Cleirigh Buttner was a qualifier in the 800 meters on Friday night and will be making her second straight appearance at the outdoor national championships. The national semifinals of the women’s 800 meters and 1500 meters are scheduled for Thursday, June 8 and will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
WOMEN'S 1500 METERS - NATIONAL QUARTERFINAL ROUND
Top five each heat and next two fastest times advance to NCAA Championships
4:11.15 - Helen Schlachtenhaufen, Dartmouth
4:12.42 - Megan Moye, North Carolina State
4:12.50 - Danielle Aragon, Notre Dame
4:12.54 - Millie Paladino, Providence
4:13.62 - Grace Barnett, Clemson
4:11.67 - Jessica Harris, Notre Dame
4:11.86 - Karisa Nelson, Samford
4:12.55 - Jamie Phelan, Michigan
4:13.13 - Frances Schmiede, Yale
4:14.99 - Shannon Hugard, Cornell
4:13.71 - Nicole Hutchinson, Villanova (Heat 1)
4:15.07 - Rhianwedd Price, Mississippi State (Heat 2)