Cross Country Prepares for Big East Championships

Haftu Strintzos won the Princeton Invitational to lead the Wildcats to an overall win.

On Friday, Oct. 29, the Villanova men’s and women’s cross-country teams will be competing at the Big East Championship in Carmel, Indiana. They will compete against Butler, UConn, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Xavier to crown a champion of the conference. Both ‘Nova teams have been working hard in their regular seasons, with the women clinching an overall first place, second place and 20th place finish at three races, while the men have secured two overall first place finishes and one second. The men’s team is ranked 24th in the latest USTFCCCA poll, highest in the Big East, while the women’s team received votes. 

Individually, Haftu Strintzos of the men’s team has been dominating the races. At the Haverford Main Line Invitational, he was first out of 122 runners, while also breaking the Villanova course record with a time of 19:02 on the four-mile course. Strintzos then went to the Paul Short Run and placed third out of 357 runners and followed it up by securing another first place finish out of 209 runners at the Princeton Invitational in the 8000-meter race. These successes so far indicate a promising outcome for Strintzos’ results at the Big East race. 

For the women, Lydia Olivere placed third out of 343 runners at the Paul Short Run, in a 6000-meter race. This feat even secured her the honor of Big East Female Athlete of the Week, her first Big East honor. Olivere also placed third at Haverford and 57th at the Wisconsin Invitational. 

Sadie Sigfstead is another Wildcat to look out for at the Big East Championship. In the Haverford Invitational, she finished second. In the Paul Short Run, she was fifth and at the Wisconsin Invitational she was 36th out of 266 runners, the highest placing runner for Villanova at that race. 

The women’s team has not only received individual honors, but was named #1 in the Mid-Atlantic region, according to the USTFCCCA. They also made their mark on the national polls by reaching spot number 20 on the Top 30, although they dropped out last week. 

The men have earned some honors of their own. John Phillips was named Big East Male Athlete of the Week after his second place finish out of 357 runners at the Paul Short Run, his first Big East weekly honor. His time of 23:31 was even the 10th fastest time of all time for the Paul Short Run course. Phillips also placed second at the Haverford Invitational. 

Strintzos also secured a Big East Male Athlete of the Week honor after his first place finish in the Haverford Mainline Invitational. Strintzos has received the honor before, not only in cross country, but in track and field as well. 

With many promising athletes heading to the Big East Championships whether as a former Big East winner, a Big East honor holder, a past title holder or high place finisher in their season so far, both Villanova cross country teams have excellent chances at claiming hardware.