HAVERFORD, Pa.--The track & field season is officially underway after Villanova opened the 2017-18 indoor campaign by hosting the Jack Pyrah Invitational at Haverford College on Saturday afternoon. Junior distance runner Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.) led the Wildcats distance group with a first place finish in the 3000 meters, while junior Adeline Scelzi (Glen Allen, Va.) and senior Bridget Owen (Northborough, Mass.) tied for first place in the pole vault.
This is the 15th straight year that Villanova has hosted the Jack Pyrah meet, which is named after the program’s former longtime coach. Athletes from La Salle, Norfolk State and Saint Joseph’s also competed in this year’s edition of the meet. The host Wildcats competed in six individual running events, the 4x400 meter relay and three field events throughout the day.
Villanova had a group of nine runners in the seeded section of the 3000 meters, with Hutchinson pacing the group with a time of 9:19.23. She crossed the finish line nine seconds ahead of classmate Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) in second place (9:28.24), while senior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland) rounded out the top three with a time of 9:37.48 in her first collegiate 3000 meter race.
Freshmen Lauren Ryan (South Yarra, Australia) and Rachel McArthur (Bristow, Va.) were fourth (9:39.88) and fifth (9:43.00) in the 3000 meters, while the Wildcats other finishers included senior Katie Fisher (Uxbridge, Ont.) in sixth (9:43.27), followed by freshman Alex Harris (Stony Point, N.Y.) seventh (10:01.55), junior Sammy Bockoven (Hudson, Ohio) in ninth place (10:06.00) and senior Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) in 11th (10:29.32).
Another large group of Villanova athletes competed in the pole vault, with the quartet of Scelzi, Owen, sophomore Jessica Lee (Kailua, Hawaii) and freshman Amanda McNelis (Commack, N.Y.) each clearing the bar at a height of 3.50 meters. Scelzi and Owen were successful on their first tries at 3.20, 3.35 and 3.50 meters to tie for first place. Lee made her second try at 3.50 meters and McNelis cleared the bar on her third and final attempt. Freshmen Emily Harrison (Haymarket, Va.) and Cala Lejman (Ambler, Pa.), along with sophomore Ava Coleman (Southington, Conn.), each cleared the bar at 3.35 meters.
The first indoor meet of the year is a checkpoint of sorts for the team early in the season, and Saturday’s results for the Wildcats were strong across the board. Among the highlights of the meet were five freshmen who made their collegiate debuts. McNelis, Harrison and Lejman all competed in the pole vault, while sprinter Sarah Jones (Sewell, N.J.) ran in the 60 meter hurdles and the 300 meters, and fellow freshman Samantha Bragen (Toms River, N.J.) competed in the triple jump.
There were two meet records set during Saturday’s competition. Kendra Chambers from Juventus Track Club in Philadelphia won the 500 meters in 1:13.50 to break the previous record of 1:13.69 which Ajee Wilson of Juventus set five years earlier. A relay team from Juventus, with Wilson anchoring, set a new meet record of 3:44.94 in the 4x400 relay. The previous mark was 3:50.96 set by a Villanova relay squad in 2009.
Complete results from Saturday’s meet, as well as a rundown of all the Wildcats results, can be accessed via the links at the top of this release. Villanova returns to action when it competes at the Nittany Lion Challenge on January 13.