Women’s Cross Country Advances to NCAA Championships

Three runners earned All-Region honors at the meet on Friday.

On Friday, the Villanova men’s and women’s cross country teams travelled to Lehigh University to compete in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. The women’s team competed in the 6000 meter race, followed by the men’s team in the 10,000 meter race. 

The event determined the top two teams from each nine regional competitions who automatically earned bids to the NCAA Championships. Both Villanova teams finished in third place in the regionals, finishing just outside the automatic qualifiers. However, the women’s team qualified for the NCAA Championships as an at-large bid, and three members of the men’s team qualified for the meet as individuals.

As a team, the women secured third place with a total score of 105, behind West Virginia with 67 points and Georgetown with 43 points. 

In the women’s 6k, junior Lydia Olivere finished in fourth place out of 193 runners with a time of 20:25.3. This was not Olivere’s first time competing in this race, as she was named Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year in 2019. Sophomore Maggie Smith finished in eighth place, and freshman Sadie Sigfstead finished in ninth place. The top-25 individual finishers from each regional meet earn all-Regional honors by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), which recognizes the Wildcats’ top finishers Olivere, Smith and Sigfstead. 

Since 2000, the women’s team has been represented by 84 all-regional athletes and has finished in the top three of the teams rankings in 17 out of the 21 years that the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship has occurred. 

The rest of the women’s roster included sophomore Anna Helwigh, who finished 38th, senior McKenna Keegan, who finished 46th, freshman Emily Robinson, who finished 58th and freshman Elizabeth Vaughn, who finished 73rd.

The men also finished in the third spot with a score of 57, behind first place Princeton (40) and second place Georgetown (49). Villanova senior Haftu Strintzos finished in second out of 174 racers in the men’s 10k race with a time of 30:13.1, falling to Georgetown’s Parker Stokes by a close 3.4 seconds. Strintzos has received many accolades throughout his four years as a Wildcat and was recently chosen as Big East Male Athlete of the Week twice. Freshman Jack Jennings also made an appearance on the leaderboard, finishing in ninth with a time of 30:25.08. 

The men’s team won the title of NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions back in 2019, making it the program’s sixth title win. It has been represented by 91 all-regional runners since 2000 and has finished in the top three of the teams rankings in 18 out of the 21 years of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. 

The rest of the men’s roster included junior Josh Phillips, who placed 12th, junior Charlie O’Donovan, who placed 14th, freshman Liam Murphy, who placed 20th, senior Justin Weber, who placed 23rd and senior Ryan Cutter, who placed 28th. Strintzos, Jennings, O’Donovan, Murphy and Weber are top-25 finishers, which earns them All-Regional honors.  

The women’s team, Strintzos, Jennings and Phillips will compete for national accolades at the NCAA Championship on Nov. 20 in Tallahassee, Florida.