VILLANOVA, Pa.--The accepted athletes for the NCAA preliminary meets were announced Thursday afternoon and Villanova will have four women’s distance runners headed to the East Preliminary meet in Lexington, Ky. next week. The regional meet runs from May 25-27 at the UK Outdoor Track and Field Complex on the Kentucky campus. Fifth-year senior Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) and sophomore Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.) will each run the 1500 meters, while junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland) and sophomore Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) are qualifiers in the 800 meters and the 10000 meters, respectively.
Entries for the East and West preliminary meets include the top 48 declared athletes in each region for individual events, as well as the top 24 declared 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay squads. Piccirillo, Cleirigh Buttner and Burda have each competed at the NCAA East Preliminary in previous seasons, while Hutchinson will be making her meet debut in Kentucky next week.
Cleirigh Buttner enters the East Preliminary ranked fifth in the 800 meters with a time of 2:03.07 which she recorded at the Florida Relays earlier this season. The time was her fastest outdoors and her second-fastest overall in a race during the collegiate season. She ran an indoor school-record time of 2:02.97 this January and has a lifetime best of 2:01.98 which was recorded in Europe during the 2016 summer season. Cleirigh Buttner has run the 800 meters at the NCAA East Preliminary in each of the last two seasons and qualified for the NCAA Championships last season. She was a second team All-American in the event both indoors and outdoors as a sophomore.
The national first round heats of the 800 meters take place on Thursday, May 25 at 8:10 p.m., while the quarterfinal heats are scheduled for Friday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.
Piccirillo and Hutchinson are ranked third and 13th, respectively, among the 48 accepted entries in the 1500 meters. Piccirillo was a second team All-American in the event in both 2014 and 2015, and has a lifetime best mark of 4:13.49 which was recorded at Stanford two years ago. Her fastest time this season is 4:14.11 at the Florida Relays in March, and she has also run a personal best time of 2:04.22 in the 800 meters this season. Piccirillo won the BIG EAST title in the 800 meters for the second time in her career last weekend and will be seeking to return to the NCAA Championships after redshirting the 2016 outdoor season. Her last individual appearance at an NCAA meet was the 2016 indoor championships where she was the runner-up in the Mile and a second team All-American in the 3000 meters.
Hutchinson’s personal best of 4:18.50 in the 1500 meters also came at the Florida Relays, and she was the runner-up at the BIG EAST Championships to Cleirigh Buttner last weekend. This has been a breakthrough season for Hutchinson, who along with Cleirigh Buttner and Piccirillo ran on all three of the Wildcats winning relays at the Penn Relays last month. She ran splits of 3:21.9 over 1200 meters (DMR), 4:23.6 over 1500 meters (4x1500) and 2:09.03 over 800 meters (4x800) at the Penn Relays. Although she will be competing at the NCAA East Preliminary for the first time, Hutchinson has run the 1500 meters at big meets before. She advanced to the final of the Junior Women’s 1500 meters at the Canadian Championships and Rio Selection Trials last summer, and also was selected to compete for Canada at the World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The first round heats of the 1500 meters are on May 25 at 5:30 p.m., while the quarterfinal heats are on Saturday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Burda will run in the national semifinal heat of the 10000 meters on May 25 at 9 p.m. She ran her first collegiate 10K at the Stanford Invitational in March, where she recorded a time of 33:50.44. That is the eighth-fastest time in school history and puts Burda 14th among the entries for the NCAA East Preliminary meet. She previously competed at the meet in the 5000 meters last season. Burda won the BIG EAST title in the 5000 meters last weekend after previously being the runner-up at both the 2016 outdoor conference meet and this year’s indoor meet. She also ran on the 4x1500 meter relay and helped the Wildcats win a Penn Relays title in the race for the second straight year.