Siofra’s soaring success

by James Hendicott
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SIOFRA Cleirigh Buttner has been making a name for herself on the American college athletics scene, with the South-Dublin native excelling for Villanova as a junior middle-distance runner.
Formerly of Dundrum/ South Dublin Athletics Club and Colaiste Iosagain in Booterstown, Cleirigh Buttner was named Mid-Atlantic athlete of the year earlier this month as a college junior in advance of her trip to the American national championships.
Cleirigh Buttner then went on to appear in the 800 metres at the career-making NCAA (National College Athletics Association) Championships for the second year in a row, running her fastest collegiate time of 2:02.11 in her quarter-finals on the way to the showdown.
Despite the build-up, the main event proved less successful for the runner, however, as she failed to advance from the semi-finals, finishing fifth in her heat to narrowly miss out at the 800 metre finale. The result appears to be a one-off setback in a fantastic season full of times and trophies for the Dubliner.
Her latest ‘athlete of the year’ title, awarded by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, marks Cleirigh Buttner out as a real one to watch in a thriving American college athletics scene.
It also makes her the third athlete from the impressive Villanova College Wildcats to be handed the title in the past four years, and the fourth in seven, a product of their curated team and top-end coaches.
As well as her successes at 800 metres, Cleirigh Buttner has also excelled at 1500 metres this year, winning the Big East Championship, as well as bringing home the final leg for the title winning Villanova 4×400 metre team in their conference at their home town Villanova Stadium.
Cleirigh Buttner’s times of 4:28.17 in the 1500 metres and 54.58 on the anchor leg of the 4×400 metres were clocked despite adverse conditions on event days.
Earlier in the season, the Dubliner had also been key in helping Villanova pull a real college rarity, a distance triple in the Penn Relays, as they took home all three of the mixed-distance races that make up the event, with Cleirigh Buttner key in each.
Still more impressively, Cleirigh Buttner’s times have been falling consistently this season, with the south Dubliner cutting key chunks off her best times at a number of events and clocking several school records in the process.
With Villanova a long-established powerhouse of college athletics, the string of achievements looks like the start of something bigger for the expat, whose training regime and intensive racing schedule is clearly paying off in her new home.

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