UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Led by top-10 finishes from junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dublin, Ireland) and senior Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.), and a total of four All-Region performers, Villanova placed second overall at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday morning. The strong team effort enabled the Wildcats to narrowly hold off two other teams and earn an automatic bid to next week's NCAA Championships. The official selections for the national meet will be announced on Saturday afternoon.
Villanova totaled 93 points in the team standings and held off Penn (99) and West Virginia (112) to finish as the runner-up behind Penn State (36). Only the top two teams earned automatic bids to the national championships. The top 25 finishers in the field of 198 runners on the Blue and White Golf Course at Penn State were named to the Mid-Atlantic All-Region Team. Cleirigh Buttner and Piccirillo each earned that honor for the third time in their careers, while sophomore Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) and junior Katie Fisher (Uxbridge, Ont.) also garnered all-region mention. Burda had previously been an all-region performer as a freshman last season, while Fisher achieved that status for the first time.
The spread between the Wildcats top four runners was just 34 seconds on the 6,000 meter course. Cleirigh Buttner covered the course in 20:40 and was followed by Piccirillo with a time of 20:42. Burda finished in 17th place (21:06) and Fisher followed in 23rd (21:14).
The trio of sophomores Nicole Hutchinson (West Vancouver, B.C.), Kaley Ciluffo (Le Claire, Iowa) and Sammy Bockoven (Hudson, Ohio) finished within seven seconds of each other. Hutchinson was Villanova's fifth scoring runner in 40th place (21:43), while Ciluffo was 41st (21:43) and Bockoven came in 44th (21:50). The identical times recorded by Hutchinson and Ciluffo each represented season bests.
Friday's result marked the ninth time in the 17-year history of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional that the Wildcats finished first or second in the team standings. Villanova is set to advance to the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in the last nine years and the 28th time overall. The all-region honors for Cleirigh Buttner, Piccirillo, Burda and Fisher on Friday give the Wildcats a total of 66 such accolades all-time. There have been nine different seasons in which Villanova boasted at least four all-region performers.
Next week's NCAA Championships take place on Saturday (November 19) at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind. The women's race that day begins at 11 a.m. and will be followed by the men's race at 12 p.m.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10)
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional
November 11, 2016
Penn State 36 Villanova 93 Penn 99 West Virginia 112 Georgetown 141 Bucknell 174 Pittsburgh 185 Princeton 198 Maryland 266 Duquesne 287
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional (2nd of 28)
Blue and White Golf Course / University Park, Pa.
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner 7th of 198 20:40 Angel Piccirillo 8th 20:42 Bella Burda 17th 21:06 Katie Fisher 23rd 21:14 Nicole Hutchinson 40th 21:43 Kaley Ciluffo 41st 21:43 Sammy Bockoven 44th 21:50