Providence Track's Catarina Rocha Crowned BIG EAST 5,000m Champion

Feb. 23, 2018

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -  The Providence College men’s and women’s track & field teams competed at the first day of the BIG EAST Indoor Championships on Friday, Feb. 23. At the end of the first day of competition, the women are in fifth with 24 points and the men are in sixth with eight points.

The highlight of the day for the Friars was Catarina Rocha (Peabody, Mass.) and Abbey Wheeler’s (Elmira, N.Y.)  performances in the 5,000 meters. The duo took control of the race from the gun and, within three laps, had broken away from the field with a single Villanova athlete. Rocha and Wheeler dropped the athlete with a mile to go and it became a race against teammates. Rocha would take the victory in a time of 16:05.85. Wheeler was right behind her in a personal best time of 16:07.39 This was Rocha’s first indoor BIG EAST title and third overall. Providence last finished 1-2 in the 5,000 meters at the 2015 BIG EAST Championships when Emily Sisson ’14 and Lauren Mullins ’16 claimed the first two places.

The women featured a strong distance medley team of Millie Paladino (Morgantown, W.Va.), Mariah O’Gara (Taunton, Mass.), Alexandra DeCicco (Sachem, Mass.), and Maria Coffin (Annapolis, Md.). Paladino led off the Friars’ team with an impressive 3:22 1200-meter split. The team held onto the lead through the relay while Villanova and Georgetown worked their way back into the race. The Friars would finish third with a time of 11:40.86.

The men’s DMR proved to be a back and forth affair between Providence, Villanova and Butler. The team of Nick Carleo (Newburyport, Mass.), Daniel Rooney (Rochester, N.Y.), Jack Carleo (Newburyport, Mass.) and Trevor Crawley (Cumberland, R.I.) finished third with a time of 9:57.94.

Aaron Hanlon (Drogheda, Ireland) raced to a seventh-place finish in the men’s 5,000 meters. Hanlon found himself leading the main chase pack for the middle section of the race. Hanlon competed well over the final few laps to take seventh place with a time of 14:30.89.

Earlier in the day were the qualifying heats of the mile. Dara Cuffe (Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.) and Abigail Post (Wantage, N.J.) raced in the first heat of the mile. The pace of the heat was slow early and Cuffe found herself leading the majority of the race. Cuffe and Post would finish fifth (5:19.57) and sixth (5:20.58), respectively. Both made the final based on time.  The final of the women’s mile is set to start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24.

In the second heat of the men’s mile, Michael O’Leary (St. James, N.Y.)  took control of the race from the gun.  O’Leary made the race an honest one by bringing the field through 800 meters in 2:07. A group of five broke away from the rest and all finished close together. O’Leary took second with a time of 4:13.25. He automatically qualified for the final by finishing in the top four of his heat. Thomas Arbeiter (Ellington, Conn.) finished seventh in the heat with a time of 4:22.37 and would just miss qualifying for the final on time. The final of the men's mile will start at 11:10 a.m.

The second day of the BIG EAST Championships feature the finals of the mile, 3,000 meters, 4x400 meter relay, 4x800 meter relay and the high jump for Providence. Track events are set to begin at 10:20 a.m. on day two.




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