By Christopher Hunt
The first time Villanova’s Sheila Reid crossed the finish line she smiled wide after she crushed the last 200 meters, leaving the field in her wake on her way to winning the 1,000 meters at the Big East Championships.
The last time she careened down the home straightaway her teeth showed through a grit and showed she refused to relent to fatigue, even after her third race of the day – the third time she smoked the field on the final lap like she somehow pressed a turbo boost button.
Reid first won the 1,000 in 2:45.02. She returned over an hour later to win the mile in 4:51.33 and used the same lightening kick to secure the 4x800 victory for Villanova as the Wildcats won their first Big East title in 10 years with 115 points. Louisville finished second with 107 and two-time defending champs UConn third with 84.
Reid said she made a point to work on her finishing speed and remembered being outkicked in the 1,000 last year.
“I just made it a priority not to let that happen again,” Reid said. “I’ve been feeling really good. I’m just a completely different athlete than last year.
It’s not just that Reid dominated. Teammate Nicole Schappert passed Georgetown’s Emily Infeld in the last 25 meters to finish secure a 1-2 finish in the 1,000. Schappert finished in 2:47.57. Then freshman Bodana Mimic tailed Reid for second in the mile in 4:51.89.
Villanova got added punch from Alison Smith, who won the 3,000 in 9:16.62, less than a second off of the NCAA auto-qualifying standard but will likely earn her a bid to the national championship. It was the first 3,000 of the junior’s collegiate career.
“That was my first 3,000 since my junior year of high school,” said Smith, a product of Altholton High in Maryland. “We just need the point when we can get them. The plan was to try to get to nationals. We thought I could win but I really wanted to go out and run a time.”
Smith couldn’t contain herself once she her the time. She banded herself from watching the clock during the race or checking her splits. She wanted the win first. But she had a fit when she heard the time and was still bouncing minutes later.
“I wasn’t thinking about that but nationals, nationals, nationals,” she said.
But while Nova controlled the distances, Louisville dominated the field. The Cardinals’ Jere’ Summers and Chinwe Okoro scored 1-2 in the shot put. Summers launched a throw 55 feet, 6.50 inches to win. Okoro tossed 52-7.25 for second. D’Ana McCarthy also took fourth and Amashi-Al Kendall fifth to give Lousiville 27 points in the shot. Then they grabbed 16 in the triple jump behind Rachel Gehret victorious 40-6.75 leap. Amaka Omeyinma earned third with a 40-3.50 jump.
Ariann Neutts (2:11.8), Schappert (2:09.3), Mimic (2:11.1) and Reid (2:07.0) won the 4x800 in a 8:39.34, the fastest time in the country this year. But Villanova held just a three-point lead going into the 4x400, the last event. Louisville needed to finish at least two places ahead of Nova to win but Louisville hurdler Theresa Reid fell apart on the third leg while fighting Nova’s Shericka Ward for fifth. Ward pulled away and sophomore Christine Verdier pulled the team into fourth.
Verdier, a graduate of Baldwin in Long Island, also finished third in the 400 in a season-best 54.21, which meet the NCAA provisional standard.
New York Familiars: UConn junnior Trisha-Ann Hawthorne (Alexander Hamilton) continue to dominate the sprints at the Big East meet. Hawthorne won the 60 meters in 7.32 then claimed the 200 in 23.55.
"I was really surprised with the times," Hawthorne said. "I haven't really been running well this season. This is the first time I really felt like myself again."
New Rochelle grad Carin Knight, won the high jump, clearing 5-11.50. ... Villanova senior Makalia Griffith (Hillcrest) finished fifth in the 500 in 1:13.45. ... Syracuse senior Maegan Krifchin (JFK-Bellmore) was ninth in the 1,000 in 2:55.02, after leading for three and a half laps. ... Lindsey Ferguson (Saraota Springs), a senior at Notre Dame, placed third in the 5,000 Saturday in 16:27.45 and finished ninth in the 3,000 Sunday in 9:36.14. ... Providence freshman, Shelby Greany (Suffern), who won the USATF Junior XC title last week, placed fifth in the 3,000 in 9:28.23. ... Stephanie Duffy (Washingtonville) won the pole vault for South Florida Saturday, clearing 13-3. ... Nwamaka Okobi (St. John the Baptist) scored second-place for Rutgers in the triple jump in 40-3.50.
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.