Talented competition brought out the best in Georgetown’s track and field program last Friday and Saturday at the Armory Invitational, as several of the nation’s best athletes converged on New York City for one of the season’s biggest events. The Hoyas emerged from the contest with six NCAA provisional qualifications, one automatic qualification and a multitude of Big East and IC4A/ECAC marks.

For the women’s team, senior Erin Sicher and junior Monica Hargrove led the charge, picking up qualifying times in both individual events and as members of the distance medley relay. In the distance medley relay, Sicher, Hargrove, senior Jill Laurendeau and junior Treniere Clement timed 11:14.95 – the nation’s sixth fastest time this season – to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships next month.

Sicher ran a personal-best 4:44.0 split on the 1,600m anchor leg of the distance medley, and backed that effort up with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:45.17 in the mile the following day. Also in the mile, sophomore Jodee Adams-Moore (4:49.37) and freshman Sabine Knothe (4:59.24) registered ECAC qualifying marks.

In addition to Hargrove’s role on the distance medley relay team, she also ran 54.34 in the open 400m for an NCAA provisional qualification. The 4 x 400m relay team recorded a time of 3:42.65 for sixth place, while the 4 x 800m relay team placed first overall with a time of 9:00.86. Junior Kori Hamilton won her section of the open 800m with a mark of 2:13.47. Trailing Hamilton, freshman Meghan O’Neil timed 2:13.71 for second place. Both athletes’ marks met ECAC qualifying standards.

Junior Colleen Kelly was the women’s lone distance runner, and posted a time of 9:39.91 in the 3,000m for fourth place.

On the men’s side, freshman Chris Lukezic, juniors Jesse O’Connell and Ali Najjar, and seniors James Graham and Dylan Welsh earned NCAA qualifications on the men’s side at the Armory Invitational, while the field event athletes had a banner day at the George Mason Invitational.

Lukezic, O’Connell, Graham and Welsh turned in an NCAA provisional mark in the distance medley – where they placed second in their section with a time of 9:44.33 – and Graham (400m), O’Connell (800m) and Najjar (800m) earned individual NCAA qualifications.

After running the 800m leg of the distance medley on Friday, O’Connell competed in the open 800m – an event in which he set the Armory’s all-time record last season. Battling an extremely deep and talented field, O’Connell placed second with a time of 1:49.13. Najjar followed O’Connell in third place with a time of 1:49.50. Both performances met NCAA provisional standards, and just missed the automatic qualifying mark.

“I went up there hoping to have the opportunity to defend my record, and as it was, I broke the record again, but it wasn’t enough,” O’Connell said. “[Winner Otukile Lekote] is probably the best half-miler in the country.”

Graham timed 47.08 for second place in the 400m and set a new school record while provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the process. Graham’s performance topped Georgetown’s previous school record of 47.31, which was set in 2001.

Other notable races at the Armory included seniors George O’Loughlin (4:11.94) and Dan Tebbano (4:12.84) in the mile, sophomore Chris Esselborn (8:18.75) in the 3,000m and Graham, Najjar, senior Robert Wingate-Robinson and freshman Chris Bonner (3:10.72) in the 4 x 400m relay.

Rather than make the trek to New York, Georgetown’s field event athletes competed at the George Mason Invitational, where the team claimed three first-place finishes. Freshman Danny Pellegrino (4.80m) and sophomore Andrew Haskell (4.65m) finished one-two in the pole vault, and senior Davin Williams continued his phenomenal season by sweeping the triple jump (15.42) and long jump (7.61) titles. On the women’s side, sophomore Erica Derrickson claimed a third-place finish in the pole vault with a clearance of 3.35m.

This weekend the team will travel to Syracuse, N.Y. for the Big East Championships.

“Clearly Big East is the focus, and we’re going to try to bring back the title,” O’Connell said.

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