09 Dec 2021 | 15:11 | Track & Field
VILLANOVA, Pa.—There will be a strong contingent of current and former Villanova track & field athletes at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials which take place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. from June 18-27. Four current student-athletes have each been accepted into their respective events for the Olympic Trials, including McKenna Keegan (West Grove, Pa.), Sanaä Barnes (Keller, Texas) and Lydia Olivere (Wilmington, Del.) from the women’s team along with Sean Dolan (Pennington, N.J.) from the men’s team. In addition, Villanova graduates Angel Piccirillo and Sam Ellison will each be making their Olympic Trials debut.
USATF broadcast partner NBC Sports Group announced a robust coverage schedule for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. NBC and NBCSN will provide coverage over eight nights, including six in primetime on NBC. Track & Field coverage from Hayward Field begins on Friday, June 18, at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with qualifying, and continues at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Live coverage concludes on Sunday, June 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC with numerous events. The U.S. has topped the track & field medal standings at seven straight Games. The Olympic Trials are expected to feature nine individual reigning world champions.
Fans wishing to support the athletes at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials can visit https://toyotagoodluckblvd.com/ to upload images, video clips and text messages that will appear on the screens on the athlete boulevard as the athletes get ready to compete! Each athlete will also have a custom QR Code tag which they can scan to trigger their unique “good luck” messages on the display screens and on their phones.
Sanaä Barnes will be the first of the Villanova athletes to compete when the qualifying round of the women’s high jump begins on Friday, June 18 at 7:45 p.m. Eastern (NBCSN). She owns a lifetime best mark of 1.85 meters which was recorded at the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in 2018. Barnes is a four-time All-American in the high jump for the Wildcats and most recently earned first team All-America honors after a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships last weekend. She has jumped as high as 1.84 meters during her collegiate career and is a former gold medalist in the high jump at the Pan-American U20 Championships in Costa Rica in 2019. She also previously competed at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Finland in the summer of 2018 and the Pan-American U20 Championships in Peru in 2017. The top performers from the qualifying round of the high jump on Friday will advance to the final on Sunday, June 20 at 8:50 p.m. (NBC).
Sean Dolan will compete in the first round of the men’s 800 meters on Friday, June 18 at 8:26 p.m. (NBC Sports Network). Dolan is fresh off running the 800 meters in 1:46.41 at the USATF NJ NY Open and Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in New York this past weekend. The time lowered his lifetime best by more than four seconds and is the eighth-fastest time recorded by a Villanova runner during the NCAA competition season. Dolan was the BIG EAST champion in the 800 meters last month and qualified for the first round and quarterfinal heats of the 1500 meters at the NCAA East Preliminary. He ran a personal best time of 3:38.60 in the 1500 meters in April and was a first team All-American in the Mile during the abbreviated indoor season.
Sam Ellison ’14 will also run in the men’s 800 meters at the Olympic Trials. He was a seven-time All-American, a five-time BIG EAST champion and a 12-time All-BIG EAST performer during his collegiate career. Ellison earned four career All-America honors in the 800 meters and finished as high as sixth at the NCAA Championships indoors his senior year. He has gone on to have success running professionally and sports a lifetime best of 1:46.10 in the 800 meters which was recorded on May 31, 2019 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, Tenn. Ellison tallied a runner-up finish in the 600 meters at the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships, placed third at the 2019 Millrose Games in the 800 meters in a then-lifetime best 1:46.13 and was second at the 2018 SC Track Fest 800 meters in 1:46.20. He held the 2018 world lead over 500 meters indoors thanks to his 1:00.92 performance at the Boston University Scarlet & White Invitational in February of that year.
The men’s 800 meter competition at the Olympic Trials will progress from the first round on Friday to the semifinal round on Saturday, June 19 at 10:04 p.m. (NBC) and the final on Monday, June 21 at 8:28 p.m. (NBC).
Lydia Olivere qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 3000 meter steeplechase when she lowered her own school record for the third time this year at the USATF NJ NY Open and Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in New York this past weekend. She posted a time of 9:49.88 at the meet to lower the time of 9:57.34 she had run in a championship performance at the BIG EAST Championships last month. Olivere qualified for the national quarterfinal heats of the steeplechase at the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville, Fla. for the second time in her career. She previously was a gold medalist in the 3000 meter steeplechase representing Team USA at the Pan American U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the 2019 summer season. Earlier that summer she won gold at the USATF U20 National Track and Field Championship in Miramar, Fla. Olivere will run in the first round of the steeplechase on Sunday, June 20 at 9:35 p.m. (NBC), with the top performers from that round advancing to the final on Thursday, June 24 at 11:47 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
McKenna Keegan earned her qualification to the Olympic Trials in the 800 meters when she ran a lifetime best of 2:01.25 in the national quarterfinal heats at the NCAA East Preliminary on May 29. That time is the fastest time in program history to be recorded during the NCAA season of competition and it ranks third overall in the Villanova record book. Keegan was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for both the indoor and outdoor collegiate seasons this year, becoming just the second athlete in school history to sweep those honors in the same year. The accomplishments for Keegan this season, both in the 800 meters and as part of the Wildcats sprint group, have been astounding considering that prior to March 26 she had not run an outdoor race since the end of the 2018 season. She redshirted the 2019 outdoor and 2020 indoor collegiate seasons before seeing the 2020 outdoor track & field season cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. She did run for Villanova in cross country (2019) and indoors (2021) since qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a sophomore in 2018, but has described outdoor track & field as her favorite of the seasons.
Angel Piccirillo ’16 is one of the most accomplished athletes in Villanova history after being a nine-time All-American, an 11-time BIG EAST champion and a nine-time Penn Relays champion during her collegiate career. Piccirillo holds the record for the most Championship of America watches won by a collegiate woman in the history of the Penn Relays. Her collegiate All-America honors ranged from the 1500 meters and the Mile up through the 3000 meters and cross country. Piccirillo ran a lifetime best of 2:01.51 in the 800 meters at the Hoey Invitational in Coatesville, Pa. on June 11 to earn her qualification for the Olympic Trials. She was at one time the NCAA record holder in the 1000 meters with a time of 2:40.82 recorded during the 2016 indoor season. Piccirillo also owns lifetime bests of 4:10.89 in the 1500 meters and 4:32.57 in the Mile.
The first round of the women’s 800 meters at the Olympic Trials takes place on Thursday, June 24 at 10:00 p.m. (NBC Sports Network), followed by the semifinal round on Friday, June 25 at 6:02 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) and the final on Sunday, June 27 at 7:52 p.m. (NBC).