May 28, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.--Senior Sheila Reid (Newmarket, Ont.) automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters while juniors Bogdana Mimic (Pancevo, Serbia) and Shericka Ward (Leesburg, Fla.) are also headed to the national championships meet in the 5000 meters and the 100 meter hurdles, respectively. Villanova wrapped up competition at the NCAA East Regional on Saturday night at the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex on the Indiana University campus.
Reid started the night off for the Wildcats by winning her heat in the 1500 meters and then later had a terrific finish along with Mimic in the 5000 meters. There were two heats in the national semifinals of the 5000 meters and the top five runners from each heat plus the next two fastest times advance to the championship race. Reid and Mimic finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively, and both received automatic qualifying spots to the NCAA Championships. Reid crossed the finish line in 16:17.77 and Mimic had a time of 16:17.96.
"It was a great feeling for me and Bogdana to cross the finish line together knowing that we both had automatic qualifications to the national championships," Reid said. "We both work very hard training together every day. I think we are at our best when we work together and it was nice to have that moment at the finish line."
Mimic had moved up from the middle of the pack to the top seven at the 3000 meter mark but was being pushed hard for sixth place before securing her spot in the top five with 20 meters left. Reid and Mimic are both returning to the national championships meet for the second straight year.
"I was trying to keep up with the leading pack during the race and it was a good feeling when I crossed the finish line and knew that I had made it to the championships."
In the second of two heats in the 1500 meters Reid crossed the finish line with a time of 4:16.81, her second fastest of the season. The top five runners from each quarterfinal heat plus the next two fastest times advanced to the national championships meet and Reid's heat was the faster heat by a significant margin. The pack of runners stayed very tight during the first half of the race and Reid started out towards the back of the pack.
With 500 meters left she had comfortably moved into one of the top five spots which would ensure an automatic berth in the championships. As the pack headed into the bell lap Lucy Van Dalen of Stony Brook held the lead, while Reid and Hannah Brooks of Florida State battled for the second and third spots.
Brooks made a move for the lead as the front three runners approached the final 100 meters and it was at that point that Reid made her final kick to not only surge into the lead but also put some distance between herself and the field nearing the finish line.
"The plan for Sheila was just to get here and have a chance to qualify for the national championships in both events," Villanova head coach Gina Procaccio said. "She did her job in qualifying for the championships and Bogdana did her job in finishing in the top five in the 5000 meters."
In the 100 meter hurdles Ward automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships by coming in third in her quarterfinal heat. She finished strong to solidify her standing in third place and crossed the finish line with her fastest time of the season at 13.19. She is heading to the national championships meet for the second consecutive year.
The top three runners from each of three quarterfinal heats on Saturday plus the next three fastest times punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships. Ward faced tough competition in her heat comfortably finished in third place to earn an automatic qualifying spot.
"Shericka ran a great race to qualify for the championships," Procaccio said. "It is great that all three of our athletes going to the national championships got there with automatic qualifying spots. That made it a good weekend for us."
Other results for Villanova on Saturday included senior Ali Smith (Columbia, Md.) coming in 11th in the first heat of the 5000 meters with a time of 16:54.69. She raced in the top five for much of the first half of the race and was in sixth place when the leading pack evolved into single-file formation just before the 2500 meter midpoint of the race. With 2800 meters gone by she ceded her spot to Mimic, who moved into the top seven for the first time.
Freshman Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) came in 12th in the first heat of the 1500 meters with a time of 4:33.30. Her heat remained much tighter throughout the race than the second heat would and it was only in the final 400 meters of the race that a leading pack began to emerge.
The final event of the night for Villanova was the 4x400 meter relay, in which the Wildcats placed seventh in their heat with a time of 3:40.17. Senior Kristen Mahon (Robbinsville, N.J.) led off the relay and was followed by Ward, junior Christie Verdier (Baldwin, N.Y.) and senior Jessona McDonald (Holbrook, N.Y.).
The NCAA Championships will be held from June 8-11 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.