HAVERFORD, Pa. - Junior Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.) cruised to the individual title at the Main Line Invitational on Friday afternoon and Villanova placed seven runners in the top 10 overall in its first meet of the 2017 season. Hutchinson paced a field of 28 runners from two Division I schools and won with a time of 16:20.5, the fifth-fastest that a Wildcats athlete has ever recorded on the three-mile Alumni Cross Country Course at Haverford College.
In hot and humid running conditions, the leading Villanova runners stayed together in a pack for much of the race. Hutchinson pulled away by the halfway point and beat the runner-up from Penn by 19 seconds at the finish line. The next four finishers were all from the Wildcats, including junior Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) in third place (16:47.9) followed by freshman Rachel McArthur (Bristow, Va.) in fourth (16:55.6), senior Katie Fisher (Uxbridge, Ont.) fifth (17:00.9) and junior Kaley Ciluffo (LeClaire, Iowa) in sixth place (17:07.8).
Even for an early-season meet, the results were an excellent start for a Villanova team that is hungry to continue the upward trend it has been on in recent years. Following consecutive team berths to the NCAA Championships in the last two years, the Wildcats are ranked No. 18 in the nation by the United States Track & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in this week’s poll. Villanova kept the top of its lineup close together despite not being expected to debut its complete lineup until later in the month.
Sophomore Ann Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan.) and graduate student Maria Seykora (Broomall, Pa.) rounded out the Wildcats top seven by finishing ninth and 10th, respectively. Campbell crossed the finish line in 17:33.8 and Seykora followed in 17:36.0. Seniors Erin Jaskot (Blauvelt, N.Y.) and Rebecca Del Rossi (Canton, N.Y.) registered times of 18:31.2 and 18:55.2, respectively.
Athletes from Villanova, Penn, Haverford and Swarthmore competed in Friday’s race, although scoring rules require the team scores to be separated by division. In the Division I scoring, the Wildcats had 19 points and Penn 40.
Villanova returns to action for the Paul Short Run on Friday, September 29 at Lehigh. The site will also host the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional later this season.
NOTES: The last Wildcats runner to have a faster time than Hutchinson’s mark of 16:20.5 at Haverford came in 2013 when Emily Lipari ran the three-mile course in a school-record pace of 16:08.3 … McArthur was making her official collegiate debut in the race and Seykora was also racing for the first time in a Villanova shirt since transferring from Princeton with one season of cross country eligibility remaining.
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
Division I Team Scores
1. Villanova 19 2. Penn 40
Individual Results (Division I Teams Only)
Nicole Hutchinson 1st of 28 16:20.5 Bella Burda 3rd 16:47.9 Rachel McArthur 4th 16:55.6 Katie Fisher 5th 17:00.9 Kaley Ciluffo 6th 17:07.8 Ann Campbell 9th 17:33.8 Maria Seykora 10th 17:36.0 Erin Jaskot 21st 18:31.2 Rebecca Del Rossi 25th 18:55.2