The Villanova men’s and women’s cross-country team came out on top against six other schools at the Haverford Main Line Invitational on Friday. The women as a team scored 17 points in their three-mile race, and the men collectively scored 23 points in the four mile.
Individually, sophomore Haftu Strintzos came in first for the race out of 122 runners with a four-mile time of 19:02.4. Not far behind was sophomore Josh Phillips with a time of 19:06.8. Both Strintzos and Phillips had the top two times of any Villanovan at the Haverford four-mile race. In addition, six out of the top ten race spots were Wildcats. Junior Charlie O’Donovan, who was a finalist in the Irish National Championships earlier this year, finished in fifth. Senior Nick Steele came in sixth, freshman Liam Murphy was ninth and senior Martin Barr rounded out the top ten.
Individually for the women in the three-mile race, sophomore Maggie Smith came out on top among 76 runners with a time of 16:20. Not only were seven of the top 10 spots grabbed by the women’s team, but the top three were also all Wildcats. Freshman Sadie Sigfstead secured second place with a time of 16:21.2. Junior Lydia Olivere, who qualified to run in the Olympic trials, claimed the number three spot. Freshman Kendra Lewis was fifth, sophomore Anna Helwigh was sixth, freshman Emily Robinson was seventh and senior McKenna Keegan was ninth.
In this invitational, Villanova competed against Penn, La Salle, Haverford, Elizabethtown, Muhlenberg and Widener. Out of the six, Penn is Villanova’s toughest competitor this season, as the men’s team has a current rank of fifth in the NCAA DI Mid-Atlantic group, while the women are ranked sixth. There was also only a 45-point difference between the men’s total score and a 30 point deficit for the women between the two schools. And while La Salle made the men’s list in seventh and the women’s list in eighth, the other competitors for this race were left in the dust in terms of NCAA rank. However, Villanova’s men’s team is currently ranked at the top in the region and appears to plan to stay at that rank, while the women’s team is just behind in third regionally.
For the rest of the season, the Wildcats hope to continue to dominate at the races. They each have a high standard to uphold by not only having nine national titles under their belt for the women and four for the men, but also an impressive season last year.
In the 2020 season, the men were third out of 10 schools at the Big East Championships. This leaves room for improvement to either the top or even a place higher. In addition, the women were fifth out of eleven schools at the Big East Championships.
Although not placing in the top ten at the Championships last year, Smith seems to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Strintzos and Phillips are once again starting out strong after both placing in the top 10 last season at the Big East Championships.
Along with winning the Big East Championship, the men’s and women’s cross-country team strive to have not only more members attend the NCAA Championships, but also to have runners score in the top 10. Last season, Olivere was the only representative for the women, placing 91st out of 256 runners.
The men’s team qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Strintzos and Phillips in the lead of the pack with placements of 66th and 67th out of 251 runners.
Villanova runs against Lehigh on Friday, Oct. 1 at 9:15 a.m. for the men and 10:15 a.m. for the women. The Big East Championships will be held at Carmel, Indiana on Friday, Oct. 29.