Sam Mattis Brings A National Championship Home For Penn
Philadelphia schools represented by athletes from Villanova, Penn, and Temple participated in the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon culminating on June 14, 2014. Sam Mattis of the University of Pennsylvania brought home a national title winning the Discus with a throw of 62.48 meters (205-0). Villanova had four athletes compete in the finals as Stephanie Schappert ran in the women’s 1500 meter run finishing in sixth place with a time of 4:16.01. In the men’s 1500 finals Jordy Williamsz and Rob Denault competed with Williamsz getting to the podium finishing fifth in a time of 3:55.36. Denault placed twelfth covering the distance in 3:56.42. Patrick Tiernan ran in the men’s 5000 meter final turning in a time of 13:55.81 finishing tenth. Thomas Awad ran in the event for the Red and Blue but did not finish.
In team competition the Oregon Ducks won the men’s and women’s national championships with the men scored 85 and the women totaled 59 points. Locally, Penn posted 10 team points in the men’s events, while Villanova had 4 points in the men’s standings and 3 in the women’s competition. A summary of the events is found below.
Men’s Discus Throw –
Penn junior Sam Mattis won the competition with a distance of 62.48 meters (205-0) on his final throw. He set a school record in this event. Mattis is the eighth national champion in program history and was the first since Sam Burley (800) and Brian Chaput (Javelin) won titles in 2003.
Mattis was joined by Noah Kennedy-White in the event. Both athletes completed in different flights. Kennedy-White placed 23rd with a throw of 53.86 meters.
Men’s 1500 Meter Run –
Villanova junior Jordy Williamsz came in fifth in the final of the 1500 meters for the second straight year. Senior Rob Denault finished in twelfth place. In a tight race in the 1500 meters came down to a sprint in the final 100 meters, with the entire field in contention up until the last moments of the race. Williamsz crossed the finish line with a time of 3:55.36. The entire field of 13 runners was separated by just 1.8 seconds due to a slow pace nearly the entire race. Williamsz was in eighth place with 800 meters left but at that point was close to the leaders. He had moved up to third place at the start of the bell lap to give himself a chance at the lead.
This is the second time in three years that the Wildcats had two runners qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 1500 meters. Denault qualified for the meet in 2013. This race was the first time in his career he advanced to the final of an individual event at the national meet
Chad Noelle of Oklahoma State won the national championship finishing with a time of 3:54.96. It was a tightly contested race as the top nine runners finished less than a second apart.
Women’s 1500 Meter Run –
Villanova senior Stephanie Schappert made the final and finished sixth with a strong effort running a time of 4:16.01. Schappert settled into the middle of the pack early on and was in either fifth or sixth place at the end of each lap around the track. Schappert stayed close near the front of the chase pack. The field of 12 runners became more separated in the final 200 meters but a steady pace by Schappert allowed her to finish on the podium.
Schappert finished third in her semifinal heat with a time of 4:17.31, The top five finishers in the two heats would advance to the finals along with the athletes with the two best times. Fellow Wildcat Angel Piccirillo turned in a time of 4:19.13 for 6th place in her heat and 14 overall.
Also in the semifinal round Blanca Fernandez of Temple fell short of qualifying for the 1500 meter final. Fernandez placed 7th in the heat and 15th overall in a time of 4:19.62, beating her school record by just over two-tenths of a second. Fernandez raced in the second of two semifinal heats, and for much of the race was among the leaders. The top four broke away in Fernandez’s heat, and in a scramble to finish fifth she came up just over half a second short. After running a school record time of 4:21.61 back in April, Fernandez broke her own record for the first time at the NCAA East Preliminary with a time of 4:19.86.
Rhianwedd Price of Mississippi State won the event in a time of 4:09.56 defeating Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State by .11 seconds. Houlihan covered the distance in 4:09.67
Men’s 5000 Meter Run –
Patrick Tiernan placed 10th for Villanova as the sophomore ran the distance in a time of 13:55.81. It was the second straight year that Tiernan competed in the event final. Thomas Awad of Penn was a qualifier, but did not finish the race.
Tiernan was in good position in the middle of the pack early on and then took the lead for the first time with 1600 meters to go remaining in front for a full lap. Tiernan was running on the rail as the field approached the final lap and was boxed in with little room to make a move back towards the lead.
Oregon finished one-two in the event as Edward Cheserek won the event in 13:48.67. Teammate Eric Jenkins placed second in 13:48.92, just .25 seconds behind.
Men’s High Jump –
Penn freshman Michael Monroe competed in the high jump. He finished the event tied for 20th place clearing the bar at 2.08 meters (6-9). This was the fifth consecutive year that a Penn athlete competed in the high jump at the national championships. Jacorian Duffield of Texas Tech won the event with a jump of 2.28 meters (7-5).
Women’s Javelin Throw –
Kelsey Hay of Penn finished in 13th place with a throw of 47.85 meters (157-0). Irena Sediva of Virginia Tech won the event with a distance of 58.76 meters (192-9).