Vercollone & Taxter Ring Up All-America Finishes at NCAA Championships

Vercollone earned his first individual podium finish with his seventh place finish in the 800m tonight (PHOTO BY Mark Connolly)

Vercollone earns first individual podium finish to cap collegiate career

KINGSVILLE, Texas (May 25, 2019) – Stonehill College senior All-Americans Stephen Vercollone and Lucas Taxter brought the athletic year to a close by turning in All-America performances on the final day of the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by Texas A&M University-Kingsville, at Javelina Stadium tonight.

Vercollone posted a podium finish in an individual event for the first time in his career in his final collegiate race. He posted a seventh place finish in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:52.04, marking his second All-America award of his career (4000-meter DMR, 2018). Colorado State University-Pueblo junior Thomas Staines won the event for the second-straight year in 1:50.03. Vercollone qualified for tonight's final with the fourth-fastest time in last night's qualifying heats as he finished third in his section in 1:52.93, grabbing the first of two at-large spots for the final.

Taxter earned the fifth All-America award of his career by earning second team honors with his ninth-place finish in the 1500-meter run in 4:00.61. He is just the second male student-athlete in Stonehill history to earn All-America honors for cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field in the same academic year, joining Stonehill Athletic Hall of Famer Keith Gill, '09. Fort Hays State University senior Brett Meyer charged from tenth out of 12 runners in the final with two laps to go and eighth with 400-meters left to take first place in 3:58.24. Taxter reached the final by finishing fourth in the second of two qualifying heats on Thursday night in 3:55.45, marking the fourth-fastest time in the two heats overall and grabbing one of the four automatic qualifying spots from his heat.

Taxter finished ninth in the 1500m final to earn his first career All-American honor (PHOTO BY Mark Connolly)

Taxter was on the track this evening first for the 1500-meter run, in which the 12 finalists remained in a tight pack for the first 1100-meters of the race. Taxter remained within reach of the leader for much of the race, completing the first 300-meters in 53.10-seconds, good for fifth place. The pack kept a nice easy pace through the next 400-meters in 1:09, before quickening the pace slightly for a 1:01 split over the second full lap. Taxter was jostled back to sixth heading into the final 400-meters after the pack ran the first 1100-meters in 3:04. He made his move around the outside of the pack with 300-meters to go, moving into third with 200-meters left, but the winner made a huge run as the pack entered the final stretch. Taxter was unable to maintain his pace and, despite a 55.90-second split over the final 400-meters, was shuffled back to ninth at the finish.

Vercollone was on the track a little over an hour later for his 800-meter final, starting from the outside lane, settling in at eighth after the first 200-meters. The eight finalists settled into a pack as the first 400-meters came to a close in 54-seconds. The pack remained closely packed as it headed down the backstretch in the final lap. The pack started to string out again with 200-meters remaining and Vercollone started his kick to move up to seventh, but the gap to sixth ended up too big with 100-meters to go, giving him his seventh place finish after a 57.35 second lap split.

Vercollone's eighth place finish gave Stonehill two points towards the team standings, where it finished tied for 60th place. Ashland University won the team national championship with 54 points – just a point ahead of second place Angelo State University.

Stonehill finishes its 2018-19 track & field season having finished fourth at the Northeast-10 Conference Indoor Championships and fifth at the Outdoor Championships, sending two to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time since 2013 after Taxter (mile), Vercollone (800m) and the 4000-meter distance medley relay all competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

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