Villanova Has 11 Participants in NCAA Women’s Eastern Preliminary Outdoor Meet

Wildcats To Participate in 7 Individual Events and the 4 x 400 Relay

May 25, 2021 –

The Villanova Wildcats had 11 athletes accepted to participate in the NCAA Eastern Preliminary meet. Members of the team qualified to participate in 7 individual events and the 4 x 400 Relay team qualify for a spot in the women’s outdoor meet. Six runners and five field entrants will wear the blue and white in Florida later this week.

Villanova will be represented in the 800 meters, 400 meter Hurdles, and the 3000 meter Steeplechase on the track. In the field Nova has athletes competing in the High Jump, Pole Vault, the Discus, and the Javelin.

Lydia Olivere and Anna Helwigh will run in the 3000 meter Steeplechase. Olivere holds the school record in this event with a time of 10:03.89 set at the Big East Championships. Her lifetime best is 6 seconds faster. Olivere and Helwigh shared the program record at different times. Helwigh took the record from Olivere at the Virginia Challenge. Then, Olivere took the record back at the ‘Philly Mets’ and lowered it more at the Big East Championship meet. She is ranked 10th of the 48 athletes in the event. Olivere competed in the East Regional in 2019 as a freshman. Helwigh covered the distance in 10:05.86 in the Virginia Classic setting the program record at that time. The sophomore won the 1500 meter in the Big East but will compete only in the Steeplechase. It will be interesting to see how each athlete will push each other in the race as they are in the same heat. There are 3 heats with the top three finishers going to the nationals along with the next three best times.

Villanova has three runners competing in the 800 meters. McKenna Keegan posted the top time of the trio running a personal best 2:03.56 at the Raleigh Relays in March. Keegan won this event in the Big East Championships with a time of 2:03.86. The graduate student competed in the outdoor national semifinals of the 800 meters in 2018. Madison Martinez posted a personal best 2:05.72 at the Penn Twilight meet. She ran third in the Big East meet. Brynne Sumner crossed the finish line in the Virginia Classic in 2:06.86 to qualify. She placed fourth in the conference championships. There are 6 heats in the event starting on Thursday. The top three runners in each heat plus the next six best times will advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday.

Danielle Burns returns to the preliminaries in the 400 meter Hurdles. Burns recorded a 1:00.30 at the ‘Philly Mets’ then won her first Big East title in 1:00.73. Her personal best is 59.99 recorded at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational in 2019. Burns is in the first heat of 6 in the event on Thursday. The top three in each heat plus the next six fastest times advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday.

The 4 x 400 Relay team will compete on Saturday. There will be 3 heats with the top three in each heat then the next three best times will advance to the national meet in Eugene, Oregon June 9 through 12.

In the field five athletes from the Main Line will be in North Florida. Three presently hold the school record in their individual event.

Taryn Ashby will compete in the preliminary meet throwing the Javelin for the third consecutive season. She has also won the Big East title in this event for the past three seasons. The personal best for Ashby is 50.69 which set the school record at the UNF Invite. Over this past season she set the program record on three different occasions. The top 12 advance to Eugene in the event. She is ranked 18th among the qualifiers.

Grayce French qualified for the Discus with a throw of 52.35 meters to win the Big East Championship and set the program mark. She is a graduate transfer from Clemson who broke the school record three times in seven outings. French will make her first appearance in the East Preliminaries.

In the High Jump Sanaa Barnes represents the Wildcats. She is the school record holder in the high jump at 1.84 meters set in 2019. Her personal best is 1.85 meters set prior to enrolling at Villanova. This season Barnes cleared 1.82 meters at the ‘Philly Mets’ to qualify. Freshman Roschell Clayton will participate in the high jump with a height of 1.79 at the ‘Philly Mets’ this season. The first round of the event will be on Saturday.

This will be the second appearance at the East Preliminaries for Pole Vaulter Ashley Preston. Her top height this season was 4.06 meters at the Quaker Invite, her personal best. Preston is a three-time Big East Champion. She has cleared 4 meters or higher in the current outdoor season. The Pole Vault begins on Thursday.

The schedule for the Nova 11

Javelin: First Round Thursday 1:30 pm – Ashby

Pole Vault: First Round Thursday 3 pm – Preston

800 Meters: First Round Thursday 7:50 pm, Quarterfinals Saturday 7:35 pm – Keegan, Martinez, Sumner

400 Meter Hurdles: First Round Thursday 8:20 pm Quarterfinals Saturday 7:55 pm – Burns

High Jump: First Round Saturday 1 pm – Barnes, Clayton

Discus: First Round Saturday 1:30 pm – French

3000 Meter Steeplechase: Semifinal Saturday 6:10 pm – Olivere, Helwigh

4 x 400 Meter Relay: Quarterfinal Saturday 9:15 pm

Written By: Glenn Papazian


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