May 9, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa.--For the 21st time in the 32-year history of the meet the BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships will converge on Villanova Stadium. Competition is slated for this Saturday and Sunday and the Wildcats will compete against Butler, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Xavier for the BIG EAST crown.
In the early years of the conference Villanova won six team titles in a six-year span between 1983-89. Overall the Wildcats have captured the conference crown a total of eight times, which is a league record. Villanova has also won a record 121 individual events (including relays) at the BIG EAST meet. The most recent conference championship for the Wildcats came in 2000.
Villanova Stadium hosted the BIG EAST Championships every year from 1983-99 and the conference meet returned more recently in 2008, 2009 and 2011 prior to being selected this year. Of the 23 events that have been contested at the conference meet, the all-time meet records in eight events have been set at Villanova Stadium.
Last season the Wildcats set a meet record in the 4x800 meter relay with a winning time of 8:34.23. Villanova featured a lineup of Stephanie Schappert, Kelsey Margey, Nicky Akande and Emily Lipari in the 4x800 relay last season and won the event for the second straight year and the 16th time overall. All four runners from that team are back this year and will make the Wildcats a favorite in the relay.
Individually, both Akande and Lipari will run in the 800 meters this weekend, as will junior Leanne Tucker. The trio of Margey, Schappert and sophomore Angel Piccirillo is entered in the 1500 meters. Also running in the distance races for Villanova are freshman Julie Williams in the 3000 meter steeplechase and junior Sydney Harris in the 5000 meters.
Junior Varonica Johnson and freshmen Emma Biggs and Kalissa Caesar will be running in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters to lead the way for the Wildcats in the sprints. Sophomore Michaela Wilkins is running the 400 meters, junior Emerald Walden and freshman Danielle Wheatley are in the 100 meter hurdles and both senior Mary Bohi and freshman Veronica Scott will run in the 400 meter hurdles.
Villanova will be very well represented in the jumps, beginning with a large group in the pole vault. Junior Alexandra Wasik was this year's indoor champion and she will be joined in the pole vault field by junior Kathleen McPhillips, sophomores Abigail Nolte and Virginia LaMacchia, and graduate student Bianca Reo.
Senior Victoria Profit, LaMacchia, sophomore Anne Yahiro and senior Samantha Yeats give the Wildcats a potent combination in the high jump. Profit, McPhillips, Yahiro and senior Samantha Francis will all compete in the triple jump, while Yahiro and freshman Ekiah Lewis are also taking part in the long jump.
Leading the way for the Wildcats in the throwing events is sophomore Alita Ostapkovich, who will compete in the shot put, hammer and discus. Freshman Kristen Erickson is also entered in the shot put, while sophomore Claudia Tishler is in the hammer.
Rounding out the field of entries for Villanova is a large group in the javelin. Junior Jamie Klein is one of five Wildcats competing in the event, along with junior Alexi Stershic and the freshmen trio of Caroline Hamilton, Hannah Lee and Veronica Scott.
The top three finishers in each event at the BIG EAST Championships will garner All-BIG EAST recognition in that event.