Cross Country Competes In Big East Championships

On Friday, Oct. 29, the Villanova men’s and women’s cross-country team competed at the Big East Championships. As a team, the men were third out of nine teams, and the women finished fourth out of 11 teams. Additionally, the top five teams for the women were only separated by 17 points, which made the outcome one of the closest championships in history. The top five men’s teams were just 50 points apart, indicating another close outcome. 

Individually, junior Lydia Olivere was second out of 97 runners with a 6k time of 20:49.3. She finished a mere two seconds after the first-place finisher. This was Olivere’s third top-three finish at the Big East Championships. Freshman Sadie Sigfstead also made it into the top 10 with a fifth-place finish, finishing with a time of 21 minutes flat in her first Big East race. 

Senior Haftu Strintzos placed second out of 87 runners for the men, with an 8k race time of 23:59. This is the second straight season that Strintzos has placed in the top two for the Big East Championships. Also, placing in the top 10 was sophomore Jack Jennings, who finished with a time of 24:35.8. This was only Jennings’ fourth collegiate race in his career.

Additionally, anyone who placed in the top-20 was awarded all-Big East honors. Besides Strintzos, Jennings, Olivere and Sigfstead, Maggie Smith snagged an honor at 14th for the women, and Charlie O’Donovan, Justin Weber and Ryan Cutter received honors for 15th, 16th and 20th. Less than half a second separated O’Donovan and Weber. This was also Cutter’s first Big East race. Olivere and Sigfstead made the first team all-conference and Smith made the second team. Strintzos and O'Donovan are now three-time All-Big East performers.

The rest of the men’s roster was freshman Liam Murphy, who placed 21st, junior Josh Phillips, who was 23rd, senior Paul Nichols, who came in 32nd, senior Nick Steele, who was 34th and junior Will Merritt, who was 46th.

The rest of the women’s roster included senior McKenna Keegan, who was 26th, freshman Emily Robinson, who placed 33rd, junior Anna Helwigh who was 34th, sophomore Elizabeth Vaughn, who placed 42nd, freshman Maya Dorer who was 60th, junior Brynne Sumner, who placed 70th and freshman Alex Stasichin,who was 79th. This was Robinson’s first collegiate conference championship competition. 

The top seven for the men that contributed to the team’s score were Strintzos, Jennings, O’Donovan, Weber, Cutter, Murphy and Phillips. The top seven for the women that contributed to the team’s score were Olivere, Sigfstead, Smith, Keegan, Robinson, Helwigh and Vaughn. 

Eight out of the 10 runners on the women’s roster were only in their first or second year of collegiate cross country. 

Villanova cross country has now had 122 all-Big East performers. This was its fourth straight season of earning at least five All-Big East honors. This is also the fifth time in the last six seasons that both teams have had three or more all-Big East finishers. 

The Wildcats will now be preparing for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday, Nov. 12. The regional meet will take place at Goodman Campus Course at Lehigh and will determine the automatic and at-large qualifiers for the NCAA Championships.