What a remarkable first Big East meet for Rancocas Valley graduate Sterling Pierce, now a true freshman at Villanova.
Pierce, the Meet of Champions 200 champ last spring, won the Big East Conference Championships 60-meter dash title Saturday at the Ocean Breeze track complex in Staten Island, N.Y. He also placed second in the 400.
So Pierce scored 18 of Villanova’s meet-record 208 points as the Wildcats won their third straight Big East indoor title.
Pierce is the first Villanova sprinter ever to win the Big East indoor dash in 24 years and the first to place in the top three in the 200 in 12 years.
Wow! And this was his first conference meet!
Pierce was only the fourth-fastest qualifier into the 60 final at 6.98 but the four-fastest qualifiers all ran between 6.95 and 6.98.
He then finished in front in a ridiculously close mass finish in the final that saw five runners finish with 6-100th of a second of each other. His winning time, 6.89, is sixth-fastest in Villanova history.
It’s also fastest by a Villanova runner since Kevin Okolie ran 6.82 in the heats of the 2008 Big East meet. Pierce’s previous PR was 6.95 at the Villanova Open in January on the same track.
Pierce appears to be the first Villanova Big East champion in the dash since Salaam Gariba won the 55 in 6.25 in 1992.
In the 200, Pierce ran 21.61 in the trials and then lowered it to a PR 21.45 in the finals, finishing just behind Sebastian Feyersinger of DePaul, who won in 21.39.
Pierce’s 21.45 is a PR and No. 8 in Villanova history. It’s fastest by a Villanova runner since Carlos Bedoya ran 21.27 in the Armory Collegiate Challenge in 2004 — some 12 years ago.
Bedoya is also the last Wildcat to finish in the top three in the 200 at the Big East meet. He won it in 2004.
Looks like Pierce is the eighth South Jersey native to win a Big East title for Villanova (and the second this year):
Camden’s Martin Booker (1983 indoor 4-by-4, outdoor intermediates, 4-by-1, 4-by-4; 1984 outdoor 110 high, 4-by-4; 1985 indoor 55 highs, outdoor 110 highs, 4-by-4; 1986 indoor and outdoor highs, outdoor 4-by-4), Ocean City’s John Richardson (indoor 3,200-meter in 2005); Lenape’s Mike Brown (2001 intermediates and 4-by-4, indoor 400; 2002 indoor 400 and 4-by-4); Cherokee’s Marc Pelerin (2004 DMR outdoors); Cinnaminson’s Brian Tetreault (2012 outdoor 4-by-8); and Oakcrest’s Ishmael Muhammad (indoor 4-by-800 this year).