May 17, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The accepted entries were announced on Thursday afternoon for the NCAA East Regional and Villanova has 12 athletes in a total of 10 events qualified for the meet, which will be held next week from May 24-26 at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville. Of the 12 athletes headed to Florida the Wildcats will be competing in six running events and four field events.
In the 5000 meters Villanova will have senior Sheila Reid (Newmarket, Ont.) and junior Bogdana Mimic (Pancevo, Serbia) running in the national semifinal race. Reid is the defending national champion in the event and earlier this season ran a school record time of 15:23.64 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Mimic ran a time of 15:44.15 in the same race and was an All-American in the 5000 meters last season.
Senior sprinter Shericka Ward (Leesburg, Fla.) is also a returning All-American for the Wildcats and will once again be competing in the 100 meter hurdles. Her top time of the season is 13.16 from the Texas Relays earlier in the year and she has a personal best time of 13.12 from the 2010 East Regional meet.
Villanova will be well-represented in the middle distance events with sophomore Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, N.J.) running in the 800 meters while sophomore Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) and junior Ariann Neutts (Succasunna, N.J.) will both run in the 1500 meters. Akande earned All-BIG EAST honors with a runner-up finish in the 800 meters at the BIG EAST Championships, where her time of 2:04.56 was a personal best. She has had a terrific season for the Wildcats and also ran on the team's 4x800 meter relay at the BIG EAST meet as well as on the winning distance medley relay at the Penn Relays.
Lipari ran a personal best in the 1500 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays, when she crossed the finish line in 4:17.17. She is coming off two strong races in the 800 meters at the ECAC Championship last weekend. She advanced to the national quarterfinals in the 1500 meters as a freshman last season. Neutts ran a personal best time of 4:22.91 in the 1500 meters at the Virginia Challenge last weekend and scored for Villanova with an eighth place finish at the BIG EAST Championships.
Senior sprinter Christie Verdier (Baldwin, N.Y.) is a qualifier in the 400 meters. So far this season she has established a new personal best on two occasions, including most recently with a time of 53.56 in the preliminaries of the BIG EAST Championships, when she had the fastest time in the field entering the finals. Verdier was also a part of the Wildcats winning DMR squad at the Penn Relays.
The final East Regional qualifier in the running events for Villanova is freshman Megan Venables (Laurel Springs, N.J.) in the 10000 meters. Venables ran in the event for the first time at the BIG EAST meet and more recently competed at the ECAC Championship last weekend. She cut almost 11 seconds off her time from her first race to the second and finished in third place with a time of 35:26.85 at the ECAC meet.
Sophomore jumpers Samantha Francis (Kingston, Jamaica) and Samantha Yeats (Califon, N.J.) will lead the Wildcats in the triple jump and the high jump, respectively. Francis won the BIG EAST title two weeks ago with a season-best mark of 12.61 meters and followed up that effort with a distance of 12.51 meters in a fifth place finish at the ECAC meet. She was also a qualifier for the East Regional as a freshman last season. Yeats came in fifth at the BIG EAST Championships by clearing a height of 1.76 meters and has consistently been able to clear her personal best of 1.78 meters throughout the year.
The other two qualifiers for Villanova are freshmen Jamie Klein (Hawthorne, N.J.) and Alexandra Wasik (Medina, Ohio) in the javelin and the pole vault, respectively. Both had exceptional performances at the Penn Relays and went on to score team points at the BIG EAST Championships. Klein won the College section of the javelin at the Penn Relays and came in fourth at the conference meet. She surpassed 45 meters in both of those meets, including a season-best throw of 45.79 meters at the BIG EAST Championships.
Wasik was a late addition to the Championship section of the pole vault at the Penn Relays and mad the most of her opportunity by leaping a season-best height of 3.90 meters to finish in sixth place. She cleared 3.75 meters and tied for seventh place at the BIG EAST meet and established her personal best of 3.95 meters during the indoor season.
Start lists for the NCAA East Regional are due to be released next Tuesday in advance of the start of competition two days later.