Villanova Athletics more than basketball

Delighted with the Butler win and a 25-win team. But there’s more to Villanova athletics than basketball. There have been five huge events in Villanova athletics in the past week or ten days that have barely received a nod on this board. It’s a shame because they are very big deals.

Here’s Number 1. Freshman Patrick Tiernan from Australia broke a 33-year-old Villanova record held by the great Sydney Maree in the indoor 5,000 meters. Maree is a legendary distance runner at Villanova, one of the last greats recruited by Jumbo Elliot. He was a product of the apartheid regime in South Africa, which was banned from the Olympics for two decades. He ran for the United States in the 1988 Olympics.

Now comes Patrick Tiernan taking Sydney’s indoor record in the 5,000 meters at the Iowa State Classic earlier this month. There’s some griping that Maree’s feat, on an 11-loop to the mile tighter track at Madison Square Garden in 1979, still hasn’t been equaled. And Tiernan actually wound up second in the race, losing to Wisconsin senior Reed Connor by just 0.31 seconds. But a record’s a record and this freshman has it.

Here’s a link: Patrick Tiernan.

Number 2? The fabulous women’s track and field team wins the Big East indoor championship, their twelfth. Gina Procaccio and her staff accepted the Coaching Staff of the Year award from Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman.

Senior Emily Lipari of New York was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Track Performer for the second year in a row. Villanova won six events and two field events: Lipari in the 1,000 meters; sophomore Angel Picirillo (Pennsylvania), the mile; junior Emerald Walden (Pennsylvania), the 60 meter hurdles; junior Alexandra Wasik (Ohio), the pole vault; and sophomore Anne Yahiro (Illinois), the triple jump. To round things out the Wildcat women also took the 4X800 meter relay.

Here’s a link: Women's BE championship.

How about those men? Not to be outdone, the men’s track and field team won their fourth Big East Title. And coach Marcus O’Sullivan and his staff also picked up conference Coaching Staff of the Year awards from Val Ackerman.

Among the outstanding performances: The Wildcats made a clean sweep of the distance running events. Redshirt freshman won the 1,000 meters; sophomore Jordy Williamsz took the mile; senior Sam McEntee won the 3,000 meters; and Patrick Tiernant (there’s that name again) took the 5,000 meters. Lampron is from Massachusetts, Williamsz, McEntee, and Tiernan are all Australians.

More details on the official site: Men's BE championship

Number 4 is huge! Emily Lipari named National Athlete of the Week! That’s not too shabby. Emily was named National Athlete of the Week by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The honor followed Lipari leading Villanova to the team title at the Big East Championship. Between individual and team events in Big East championship competition, Lipari has now won seven indoor Big East Championships in her career.

Link: Lipari.

Finally: the women’s swimming and diving team takes home the Big East championship. Have to admit I don’t follow swimming or diving, men or women, but a Big East championship is always worth celebrating.

In winning his first conference title, Coach Rick Simpson was named Women’s Coach of the Year and Fiona Hardie shared Most Outstanding Swimmer honors with a competitor from Seton Hall. The Wildcats dominated the meet apparently, winning 14 of 18 events and taking the top four times in the 100 meter freestyle.

Official link: Swimming and diving championship.

All of us love basketball, but these impressive feats by other Villanova athletes deserve a tip of the hat. Let’s hope Val Ackerman finds herself handing over another Coach of the Year award (along with a Big East Tournament championship) to Jay Wright and his boys in the near future.

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