For the first time since 2014, the men’s cross country team traveled to the west coast. They had nine runners on the 8,000m course in Springfield, Ore. on Saturday for the Bill Dellinger Invitational. Fifth years Andrew Marston and Nathan Rodriguez and junior Martin Barr had strong performances at Pine Ridge Golf Club. Villanova placed eighth overall with only a 41-second spread between their top five scoring athletes.
Marston and Rodriguez finished 22nd and 25th in the decorated pack at the front. Marston crossed the line at 23:59.6, breaking 24 minutes for the second time in his collegiate career. Only a few seconds behind was Nathan Rodriguez who put down a time of 24:05.4, a PR and his first time competing with the Wildcats after transferring from Iowa State in 2017.
“My fifth-year guys are hardy, they are experienced and know what to expect from the courses and themselves,” head coach Marcus O’Sullivan noted about the Wildcat leaders in this race.
Junior Martin Barr shaved off about 10 seconds from his personal best last year with a time of 24:29.8 placing 50th overall.
Redshirt freshman Jack Fredian showcased why he earned his walk-on spot last season by placing 4th for the Wildcats and 53rd overall with a PR of 24:31.6. O’Sullivan commended his performance and said he was “impressed with Jack’s race. He ran quite well, and I am excited to see how he will perform down the road.”
Sophomores, Josh Phillips and Charlie O’Donovan both had strong races against the extensive field of runners. Showing immense potential for the rest of the season and showcasing Villanova’s depth. Closing out the Wildcats performance was junior Nick Steele, redshirt freshman Patrick Spychalski, and finally junior Rob Morro.
“We were hoping for a better overall performance,” O’Sullivan said. “We had fifth place in the team rankings coming into the final lap, which is a disappointing jump down to eighth. However, we have our eyes on Indiana in three weeks and are expecting some solid improvement.”
Next week is the Lehigh Paul Short Run and hopefully, Casey Comber and Haftu Strintzos will be back from their brief hiatus due to sickness.
“It will be great to gauge where they are and what shape they will be in for Regionals,” O’Sullivan said. “We will bring a different part of the team to Lehigh and then have the team racing together again for regionals.”
The group of athletes that raced in Oregon will not race next week at Lehigh and will instead get prepared for Indiana on Oct. 19.
The Lehigh Paul Short Run will take place in Bethlehem, PA on Oct. 5 and will also be the same course for NCAA Mid-Atlantic regionals on Nov. 15.