Feb. 21, 2014
NEW YORK - The Georgetown women's distance medley relay (DMR) squad literally re-wrote the history books today on the first day of the 2014 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championships held at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory. The foursome of Hannah Neczypor (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton), Emma Keenan (Gwynedd Valley, Pa./Gwynedd-Mercy Academy), Andrea Keklak (Sudsbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudsbury/Princeton) and All-American Katrina Coogan (Exeter, N.H./Phillips Exeter Academy) ran 10:55.63 in the women's DMR to capture the title as well as set a new Georgetown record, BIG EAST Indoor Championship meet record and a facility record at the famed Armory, one of the most celebrated and historic indoor track facilities in the country.
In a specific turn of events, Georgetown found itself in a situation where a lack of preliminary rounds in the mile and the 1,000-meter run allowed some of the most talented athletes on the roster to not only be available for the DMR, but also completely rested with just the relay to focus on. After just 400 meters, it was obvious that this was going to be a race pitting the Hoyas against the Wildcats of Villanova for the title of best in the BIG EAST Conference.
"One of the great things about Georgetown is we have a lot of flexibility because of our depth," Women's Track Coach Mike Smith said. "Even up to this morning, we had only narrowed down the athletes to six athletes. Coogan was a lock for the mile and we knew we wanted to utilize Keklak as she's coming off that great race at Iowa State. The order we came up with was Hannah to Emma to Andrea and Katrina."
Neczypor split a record-setting 3:20.3 to open the relay with the 1,200-meter leg. She perfectly executed her race plan to stay put for the first 800 meters and make her move at some point between 800 and 1,000 meters - and it would not be a buildup, but a very decisive strike to take over the lead at the end of the first frame.
"There are very people in the country who can 3:20 and that's probably the best race she's run in three years at Georgetown," Smith explained. "It was truly a remarkable performance and it just gave me goose bumps."
Keenan split 56.3 over 400 meters as she took over the baton in the lead and held on to it despite a great 400-meter leg from Villanova. "Emma did a great job running decisively from the front. Villanova was right there in it after a great 400 leg," Smith said.
Following a breakout performance at Iowa State last weekend, Keklak took over the third leg with the two teams engaged in their own race with the field trailing behind. In her four laps, Keklak not only held the lead, a tough position for any runner, but also had the ability to open up the race and extend the lead, splitting 2:05.8 over 800 meters.
"The big thing we worked on with Andrea Keklak is running assertively ... Andrea is at a really good place now as she is maturing in her running - she can run from the front and isn't scared and she has so much confidence in herself."
Coogan, in a familiar spot in the anchor position, was prepared with a race plan tailored to the situation at hand. With Keklak opening up the race, Coogan was instructed to hit the gas in her first two laps to create a mentally insurmountable lead for the Hoyas - even with the expertise of Villanova's Emily Lipari, one of the best distance runners in the country, in charge of the anchor leg. Coogan raced brilliantly and split 4:32.8, surpassing a record set by former Hoya All-American Emily Infeld, now running for Nike.
"Emily Lipari one of the best runners in the country with a really great kick so if we had a lead, we knew we had to extend it to as much as we could." Smith said. "A good sign of someone's fitness is when they can go out that fast and then absorb that huge spike and continue to run steady after that and Katrina did exactly that. Just like Keklak, we are seeing a lot of maturity in Katrina's racing."
The foursome finished with a time of 10:55.63, enough to put them in multiple record books. It breaks the previous Georgetown school record set, 10:55.95, set in 2012 at the Penn State National Invitational by current All-American Rachel Schneider (Dover, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas), All-American London Finley, current All-American Chelsea Cox (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) and former All-American Emily Infeld. Georgetown's final time breaks the previous meet record of 11:06.99 by more than 10 seconds, a mark set by Connecticut last year. It also ranks second in the NCAA this season.
Coogan's split (4:32.8) breaks E. Infeld's previous record of 4:33.5 set at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Neczypor's opening split (3:20.3) matches the record set by Schneider in 2012.
"There's been truly phenomenal DMR lineups in Georgetown history," Smith continued. "That history record book we have is a testament to all the people who have come before them. To have not only the Georgetown record but also a record at a historic facility at the Armory - world class athletes run here - that's an amazing accomplishment for this group."
Collin Leibold (Falls Church, Va./Gonzaga) was the first to score points for the Hoyas on the men's side with a personal record in the men's 5,000-meter run to take second place overall. With four student-athletes in the mix, Leibold stayed in the top six for the entirety of the race and was in fourth place at the 4,000-meter mark. Making his move on the first 200 of the final five laps, Leibold found himself separated from the pack with just Villanova's Patrick Tiernan in his sights. Leibold smartly drafted right behind Tiernan before they were both ready to make the final sprint. Tiernan was able to stave off Leibold as the Hoya finished second with a time of 14:05.79 behind Tiernan's 14:04.26. John Murray (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) finished fifth (14:15.61) while Dylan Sorensen (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) took seventh (14:19.34), to all score points for the Hoyas.
The men's distance medley relay squad made up of Lederhouse (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) in the 1,200-meter leg, Billy Ledder (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga), Ahmed Bile (Annandale, Va./Annandale) and Darren Fahy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) finished second in the event with a time of 9:45.26 after an epic come-from-behind effort from Villanova's anchor leg to capture the title with a time of 9:42.08.
With two Providence runners taking the top spots handily in the women's 5,000-meter race, it turned in to a battle for third place. The Hoyas stayed in the mix and held on to solid positioning in a race where the field spread very thin. Joanna Stevens (Blacksburg, Va./Blacksburg) finished third in what seemed like a solo run with a time of 16:43.90. Annamarie Maag (Lake Oswego, Ore./Jesuit Prep) finished fifth with a time of 16:52.39.
The day started with the men's mile trials, two heats to determine the 12-person final on Saturday. In the first heat, Bobby Peavey (Virginia Beach, Va./Kellam) and Ryan Gil (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) competed, started in lanes six and seven. As the pack settled in to position, Peavey was in first and Gil tucked in to fifth place. With two laps to go in the eight-lap race, Gil started to make a move for better positioning. With 300 meters to go, the Hoyas had the top two spots but Villanova's Robert Denault made a move inside to take the lead. At the bell, Gil was on the chase and narrowly got edged out at the end as he took second in the heat (4:13.40) to automatically qualify for the finals. Peavey's time of 4:13.92 was good enough for fifth place in the heat and he advanced to the finals on time.
In the second heat, Ryan Manahan (Marcellus, N.Y./Marcellus) and Matthew Howard (Blacksburg, Va./Blacksburg) lined up in the seven-person heat. Manahan and Howard tucked in to positions three and six at the start the race. On the bell lap, Manahan made his move on the back stretch, closing quickly on the top two spots and extending his lead through the turn. He handily took first in the heat with a time of 4:13.00 to automatically qualify for Saturday's final while Howard finished fifth overall (4:15.32), qualifying for the finals on time to bring the Hoya presence to four.
All-American Amanda Kimbers (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) recorded the fastest time in the women's 60-meter heats with a time of 7.57, handily qualifying for the finals tomorrow as she won the first of two heats. Kimbers doubled up for tomorrow's finals with a heat-winning time of 24.34 in the women's 200-meter dash. Joining her in tomorrow's 200-meter finals is another Hoya who will be pulling double duty in the individual events in Deseree King (Oxon Hill, Md./Oxon Hill). King made it look easy as she won her heat with a time of 25.21.
The women's 400-meter dash saw five heats of runners with King and Mirabel Nkenke (Orange, N.J./Immaculate Conception) having no problems advancing to the finals as both of them broke one minute, 57.18 and 57.97, respectively. King recorded the fourth-best time in trials while Nkenke had the fifth.
The men's 60-meter dash saw just three student-athletes break seven seconds with two of them representing the Blue & Gray in Devante Washington (Lafayette, La./Lafayette) and Tyler Smith (Jeffersonville, Pa./Norristown). The Hoyas send the duo, both qualifying automatically from heats, as well as Mike Andre (Ocean, N.J./Ocean Township), qualifying on time, to the finals of the event on Saturday as they timed in at 6.98, 6.98 and 7.11, respectively.
Shortly after finishing his race in the 60-meter prelims, Washington returned to the track and lined up for the 400-meter dash prelims. He took second in his heat, the second of three, running 48.86, the third-fastest time of the trials, to advance to Saturday's finals. Advancing to a trio of finals, Washington turned in his third impressive performance of the day with a time of 22.18 to take his heat in the men's 200-meter dash. Andre joins him in tomorrow's final with a time of 22.39 in the prelims.
Putting itself in the best position for tomorrow, Georgetown put another three in the finals of the men's 500-meter dash with Nathaniel Gordon (Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg), Hansel Akers (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and Daniel Anderson (Ozark, Mo./Ozark) all advancing to Saturday's nine-person final. Gordon won his heat with a time of 1:05.05 while Akers and Anderson both qualified on time: 1:04.88 and 1:06.32, respectively.
Competing in familiar territory, Sabrina Southerland (New York, N.Y./Benjamin N. Cardozo) found herself in lane seven of the women's 800-meter run prelims with Kristen Walsh (Stony Point, N.Y./North Rockland) lining up in lane one. Southerland battled Villanova's Kelsey Margey, also no stranger to the Armory, and took second in the heat with a time of 2:08.96 and easily qualified for the finals tomorrow to see Margey again. Walsh also qualified with a time of 2:12.42. In the first heat of the 800m, Becca DeLoache (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) and Shanique Dasilva (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Ford) finished second (2:08.85) and third (2:09.48), respectively. DeLoache led for the first 400 until Villanova's Nicky Akande started to make a move on the outside. DeLoache and Dasilva stayed strong at second and third to total four in tomorrow's final.
All-American Chelsea Cox (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) and Emma Keenan both advanced to the finals of the women's 500-meter dash as they both won their heats with respective times of 1:13.91 and 1:16.09.
The Hoyas will return to the New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory tomorrow for the final day of the 2014 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championships. All events tomorrow will be finals and count for points. The Hoyas will compete in the men's mile to start the day at 4:40 p.m. and will end with the women's 4x400-meter relay at 8:30 p.m.