NEW ORLEANS - Senior middle distance runner Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland), junior Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.) and sophomore McKenna Keegan (West Grove, Pa.) were officially named All-Americans in an announcement by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday afternoon. Cleirigh Buttner earned first team All-America honors in the 800 meters, while Hutchinson was a second team performer in the 5000 meters and Keegan was an honorable mention honoree in the 800 meters. The trio represented Villanova at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. last weekend.
Cleirigh Buttner came in fourth in the final of the 800 meters with a time of 2:05.73 in the last race of her incredible collegiate career. She advanced on time to the final out of the semifinal heats two nights earlier and had been an automatic qualifier through both the national first round and quarterfinal heats during the NCAA East Preliminary in Tampa last month. Her fourth place finish in the final is the best by a Villanova runner at the outdoor NCAA Championships in 23 years.
This is the third straight year that Cleirigh Buttner has been an outdoor All-American and the first time that she has garnered first team accolades. Her fourth place finish came on the heels of a runner-up finish in the 800 meters at the indoor national meet, and she joined a select group of only four Wildcats who have placed in the top four of the 800 meters at the NCAA Championships both indoors and outdoors in the same year. Cleirigh Buttner is the first to accomplish that feat since Tosha Woodward in 1994 and 1995, while the others to achieve the milestone are Celeste Halliday (1988) and Patty Bradley (1984).
Cleirigh Buttner was remarkably consistent along the way to reaching the final of the 800 meters in Eugene. She won her first round heat with a time of 2:03.33 at the NCAA East Preliminary and then recorded a season-best time of 2:03.05 in the quarterfinal round. In her first race at the national meet, Cleirigh Buttner was clocked in 2:03.11 in the second of three semifinal heats to earn one of two on-time qualifying spots in the final.
Earlier in the outdoor season, Cleirigh Buttner won the BIG EAST title in the 800 meters for the second time in the last three years. She also ran an 800 meter split of 2:02.63 on the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay at the Penn Relays, where she was a part of Championship of America title in both the 4x800 relay and the distance medley relay. Cleirigh Buttner had a split of 4:36.09 on the 1600 meter anchor leg of the DMR less than a week after she tallied a personal best mark of 4:16.71 in the 1500 meters at the Larry Ellis Invitational.
With her collegiate career now in the books, Cleirigh Buttner winds up a seven-time All-American, a 10-time BIG EAST champion and a 19-time All-BIG EAST performer spanning the cross country, indoor and outdoor seasons. She helped lead the Wildcats to five BIG EAST team titles, including a “triple crown” in 2017-18 with championships in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field. Cleirigh Buttner was also part of eight Championship of America titles at the Penn Relays. She is the 24th women’s track & field athlete in program history to be at least a seven-time All-American.
Hutchinson placed 14th in the national championship race of the 5000 meters on Saturday night to cap off what has been a stellar four-plus months of competition. She earned her second straight outdoor All-America honor after being an honorable mention performer in the 1500 meters as a sophomore last season. In the race on Saturday, she registered a time of 15:57.00 to break the 16-minute mark for the second time in her career. She also moved up two spots in the final 400 meters of the race with a strong finish amidst a field that included several of the nation’s top distance runners. The semifinals of the 5000 meters were contested at the NCAA East Preliminary in Tampa and Hutchinson finished third in her heat there with a time of 16:15.93 to earn an automatic qualifying spot in the national meet.
The outdoor season was already a remarkable one for Hutchinson by the time the two NCAA meets arrived. She was the College Women’s Athlete of the Meet for the relay events at the Penn Relays and the Outstanding Track Performer at the BIG EAST Championships, becoming the team’s first athlete to win both of those honors in the same season. Hutchinson was a double winner at the BIG EAST Championships with wins in the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters, and she ran a leg of Championship of America winning relays in both the distance medley relay and the 4x1500 meter relay at the Penn Relays. She is now a three-time All-American, a four-time BIG EAST champion and a 10-time All-BIG EAST performer entering her senior year.
Keegan emerged as one of Villanova’s top competitors in a deep middle distance group as a sophomore this season. She advanced to the NCAA Championships after racing to a time of 2:05.16 in the first national quarterfinal heat, and with her appearance in Oregon notched her first career outdoor All-America accolade. Keegan was an automatic qualifier coming out of the first round of the 800 meters when she tallied a personal best mark of 2:05.11 in her first race at the East preliminary meet. That time beat the previous lifetime best of 2:06.20 which she had recorded earlier in the season at the Florida Relays.
In addition to her success in the 800 meters this season, Keegan was also a BIG EAST scorer with a fifth place finish in the 400 meters at the conference championships. She ran both the 400 meter leg of the distance medley relay and the third leg of the 4x800 relay at the Penn Relays, and has been a part of Championship of America titles in both races in each of her first two collegiate seasons. Keegan earned her first career All-America honor indoors as part of the Wildcats lineup in the distance medley relay.
Villanova has tallied a total of 85 outdoor All-America honors since inception of the NCAA Championships meet in 1982.