Record-Breaking Opener for Track and Field Program

Lydia Olivere, left, shown running last season, set a facility record against Army.

On Saturday, Feb. 6, Villanova men’s and women’s track and field competed in their first dual meet of the season at Army West Point in New York. The event did not include team scoring, only individual scores for each event were counted. 

This was a record breaking event for both teams, with Villanova athletes setting facility and school records. 

For the women’s team, senior thrower Grayce French set the record for shot put throwing a distance of 14.85 meters, beating the previous record by four centimeters. This feat came on her fifth of six attempts throughout the meet. French is a transfer from Clemson, making this meet her first in a Wildcat uniform. 

Junior high jumper Sanaa Barnes won her event and set a facility record, clearing the bar at 1.82 meters. Along with Barnes, junior distance runner Lydia Olivere set a facility record for the mile with a time of 4:47:99, coming in first in her event. 

Villanova won three more events on the day for a total of six wins. The other wins came in the pole vault, 60 meter hurdles and 500 meter dash. Junior Jada Thomas won the final hurdles race with a time of 8.95. Sophomore Madison Martinez placed first in the 500 meters with a time of 1:16:81 and junior Ashley Preston won the pole vault by clearing a height of 3.80 meters. 

Sophomore Anna Helwigh came in second place behind Olivere in the mile race. Helwigh recorded a personal best time of 4:48:53, trimming five seconds off her previous best that she set last year as a freshman. In her debut as a Wildcat, freshman Roschell Clayton placed second to Barnes in the high jump with a height of 1.72 meters.

The women were not the only ones with an impressive showing in Saturday’s meet. The men’s team won five events and also set records and personal bests. 

Redshirt freshman Sean Dolan set a facility record and personal best in the 1000 meters with a time of 2:24:40, winning the race among a field of eight. Senior thrower Billy Loewen also set a personal best in the shot put, recording a distance of 15.48 meters, beating his previous mark of 15.46 meters that he tallied last season during the Villanova Invitational. 

Senior high jumper Jacob Kelly cleared a height of 2.03 meters in the high jump, earning a victory in the event. Junior triple jumper Malik Cunningham recorded a distance of 14.65 meters, winning another event for the ‘Cats. 

The Wildcats swept the 500 meters, with a win from Keegan Hughes, tallying a time of 1:05:36. Hughes was followed by freshman Nicolas Mollica and sophomore Mac Costonis, who placed second and third in the event with times of 1:07:17 and 1:08:64 respectively. 

The last win for the Wildcats came from freshman sprinter Zack Novak in the 400 meters with a time of 50.53. Novak and Mollica were high school teammates who made their Villanova debuts together on Saturday. 

Two more freshmen competed for the first time as a Wildcat in this meet, sprinter Jace MacConnell and triple jumper Carmen Ostrowski. MacConnell recorded times of 7.11 in the 60 meters and 23.28 in the 200 meters, while Ostrowski recorded a distance of 13.35 meters in the triple jump. 

Other notable performances on the day include junior middle distance runner Nick Ackerman and junior pole vaulter Jim Keys. Ackerman shaved almost 10 seconds off his personal best in the mile, placing third with a time of 4:15:34. Keys placed second in the pole vault, clearing a height of 4.63 meters. 

Villanova is set to have its next dual meet on Wednesday Feb. 24. The time, location and opponent are to be determined.