VILLANOVA, Pa. - On the eve of graduation, the student-athletes of the Class of 2017 were feted at an annual reception held at the Connelly Center on Thursday evening. The collective accomplishments of the Villanova senior class were celebrated and each team's seniors received their gifts at the awards podium. Men's cross country athlete Patrick Tiernan and women's swimmer Emily Mayo took home top honors as the Senior Student-Athletes of the Year, while men's lacrosse player Michael Waterfield was the winner of the Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award.
The contributions made to the university by the Class of 2017 on the fields of competition, academically and in the community were remarkable. This group of student-athletes brought home a men's basketball national championship in 2016, while Tiernan was the individual national champion in cross country last fall. Villanova teams made 19 national postseason appearances and won 21 conference championships in the last four years, while the senior student-athletes combined for 12 All-America honors, four major conference awards and 119 all-conference selections.
When this senior class arrived on campus, the Wildcats were entering a new era in their athletic history with the realignment of the BIG EAST Conference to its current membership. Villanova has won 20 BIG EAST titles in the first four years of the current alignment, while winning each of the first two BIG EAST Presidents' Awards for the combination of athletic success, academic performance and community service.
More importantly, the Wildcats senior class stood out for its academic success and maintained Villanova's reputation as an elite national university for the combination of its athletic and academic performance. The Class of 2017 has combined for 207 academic all-conference honors, and counting, as many of the honors for the 2016-17 academic year will not be announced until mid-summer. The senior class includes men's basketball player Josh Hart, who was the winner of this year's Senior CLASS Award. Tiernan, in addition to being a national champion, was previously the winner of the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in both cross country and outdoor track & field.
The Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award has been presented each year since 1985 and is bestowed on a student-athlete who unselfishly sacrifices time, effort, body and soul to lead and motivate their teammates, and whose efforts on and off the field inspire those around them to excel.
Below are capsules of each of the three major award winners from Thursday night's reception, followed by team-by-team highlights for the Class of 2017.
Patrick Tiernan, MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Male Senior Student-Athlete of the Year
Tiernan was the individual national champion at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last November in the final race of his incredible collegiate career. He is only the second Villanova men's runner to be the cross country national champion, and he capped off his career as the first men's runner in school history to be a four-time cross country All-American. Tiernan also became the first athlete -- male of female -- in BIG EAST history to win four career individual conference titles. He captured his fourth straight BIG EAST crown in 2016 and also won the individual title at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional for the third time. In all, Tiernan won 13 of his 21 collegiate cross country starts.
Following the 2016 cross country season, Tiernan was named by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the National Athlete of the Year. He also received numerous awards for his academic excellence during his collegiate career. Tiernan was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team in 2013 and was also a two-time BIG EAST All-Academic team selection. He was named the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year in both outdoor track & field (2014-15) and cross country (2015-16), and was Villanova's male recipient of a BIG EAST Institutional Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in each of the last two years. Tiernan completed his undergraduate degree with a major in Mathematics last December.
Emily Mayo, WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING
Women's Senior Student-Athlete of the Year
Mayo has been a key contributor to a Wildcats team that has won four consecutive BIG EAST team titles, all in dominant fashion. She has won six individual conference championships and been a part of three BIG EAST champion relay teams, while earning a total of 15 All-BIG EAST honors. Mayo doubled up at the BIG EAST meet with individual titles in the 500 yard freestyle and the 1650 yard freestyle in each of the past three seasons. She was also a part of the team's champion 800 yard freestyle relay in each of those seasons. This year's team set the current school record of 7:11.35 during the conference championships.
Outside of the pool, Mayo has been an equally successful student in the classroom. She is a three-time selection to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team, and also earned Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area accolades in each of the past two years. Mayo was also selected to the CSCAA Scholar All-America Team in 2016. In order to merit a spot on the Scholar All-America Team, a student-athlete must have achieved a GPA of 3.50 or higher in addition to competing at the NCAA Championships or earning an NCAA "B" time standard during the season. Mayo, a native of Centennial, Colo., is an Accounting major in the Villanova School of Business.
Michael Waterfield, MEN'S LACROSSE
Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award Winner
One of the top individual honors for a Villanova student-athlete to earn is the Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award. Waterfield played in 14 games for the Wildcats over the past four seasons, but his overall contributions to the university were significant and were felt both on and off the field. Waterfield is a Finance major in the Villanova School of Business, and was one of 12 student-athletes during the Fall 2016 semester to earn a perfect 4.0 GPA. Waterfield is a three-time selection to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Among his many honors, Waterfield was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, which recognizes business excellence for the top 10 percent of students in the Villanova School of Business. He is also an active member of the Fix Income and Wall Street societies, where he helps mentor underclassmen who want to pursue a career in finance. Waterfield represents all Villanova student-athletes as co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and in this role helps to organize community service and other events for the 24 varsity sports on campus.
Baseball: Second baseman Todd Czinege is a three-time All-BIG EAST selection, including being a first team choice in each of the last two seasons ... Starting pitcher Hunter Schrvyer was a first team all-conference pick in 2016 and was the 2017 Preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year ... The pair has combined for four All-Big 5 honors ... The senior class has combined for 10 selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Men's Basketball: Villanova won the second national championship in program history in 2016, and was ranked No. 1 in the national polls several times over the last two years ... The senior class had a record of 129-17 (.884) and never lost back-to-back games during their careers ... Villanova won four straight regular season BIG EAST titles, as well as the conference tournament titles in 2015 and 2017 ... Josh Hart was a consensus All-American in 2017, in addition to being named the BIG EAST Player of the Year and the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year ... He and Kris Jenkins were 2017 selections to the USBWA All-District II Team ... Hart also won the Senior CLASS Award and the Julius Erving Award ... The senior class combined for five selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Women's Basketball: Villanova went 85-50 (.630) over the past four years and made four national postseason appearances in the WNIT, including reaching the semifinal round for the first time ever in 2017 ... In all, the Wildcats were 9-4 in WNIT play over the past four seasons ... The team won the 2015-16 outright Philadelphia Big 5 title, and shared the 2014-15 City Series championship ... The seniors were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team on seven occasions.
Men's Cross Country: Patrick Tiernan was the 2016 individual NCAA champion, and he became the first athlete in BIG EAST history to be a four-time individual conference cross country champion ... He was a four-time cross country All-American and the 2016 USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Year ... Villanova earned team bids to the NCAA Championships in 2013 and 2014, while Tiernan was an individual qualifier in 2015 and 2016 ... He was the winner of the BIG EAST Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award ... The senior class combined for 10 appearances on BIG EAST All-Academic teams.
Women's Cross Country: Villanova earned bids to the NCAA Championships three times in the last four years and won the 2013 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional team title ... The seniors on the team combined for six BIG EAST All-Academic Team selections, while the team was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team in each of the last four years.
Field Hockey: Villanova qualified for the 2015 BIG EAST Championship ... Kristen Mericle was a four-time NFHCA All-Academic Team selection, while she and Courtney Devine combined for five BIG EAST All-Academic Team appearances.
Football: Two national postseason appearances ... John Hinchen and Bryan Osei were All-CAA Football third team selections in 2016 ... The senior class combined for 17 CAA Football All-Academic Team honors.
Golf: The team's lone senior, Lucas Trim, was a second team All-BIG EAST selection in 2017 and was named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team in 2014.
Men's Lacrosse: Villanova qualified for the BIG EAST Championship in each of the last four seasons, and reached the 2014 conference championships game ... Jake Froccaro was an honorable mention All-American in 2016 and was chosen for the Inside Lacrosse Media All-America team this year ... The senior class combined for seven All-BIG EAST honors and 18 selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Women's Lacrosse: Villanova reached the BIG EAST Championships in 2015 ... Sam Scarfogliero was a two-time All-BIG EAST selection and set the Wildcats single-season and career records for caused turnovers ... The six members of the Class of 2017 were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team a total of 14 times.
Rowing: Villanova competed in the 2015 IRA National Championships in the women's lightweight eight division ... Maggie Cavanaugh and Emily Lenane combined for three career All-CAA selections, with both garnering all-conference honors in 2017 ... Each was also named to national all-academic teams during their careers.
Men's Soccer: Villanova reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2016, and the team made two conference tournament appearances ... The 2016 team advanced to the BIG EAST semifinals ... Goalkeeper Will Steiner was a 2014 BIG EAST All-Rookie team selection ... The seniors were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team a total of six times.
Women's Soccer: Villanova made conference tournament appearances in 2013 and 2014 ... Katie Martin and Emmalee Meyer combined for four selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team, while the Wildcats were winners of an NSCAA Team Academic Award in 2014.
Softball: Villanova posted a winning record (109-102) over the last four seasons and reached the BIG EAST Championship in each of the past three seasons ... Brette Lawrence was the league's Pitcher of the Year in 2017 ... The senior class earned four All-BIG EAST honors ... The seniors also were named NFCA Academic All-Americans four times and combined for 15 BIG EAST All-Academic Team selections.
Men's Swimming & Diving: Greg Cino was part of a school-record performance in the 800 yard freestyle relay at the 2017 BIG EAST Championships ... He was a three-time All-BIG EAST selection in the relay ... Villanova was named a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team both semesters of the 2015-16 academic year, as well as for the Fall 2016 semester.
Women's Swimming & Diving: Villanova has been the dominant women's program in the BIG EAST for the past four years and has won four straight conference championships by wide margins ... The seven members of the Class of 2017 have combined for 24 BIG EAST titles and 44 All-BIG EAST honors ... New school standards in the 200 yard freestyle relay and the 800 yard freestyle relay at the 2017 conference championships were two of the many records set in the pool over the last four years ... The team has been recognized as a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team four times since 2014, while the senior class has combined for 18 BIG EAST All-Academic Team selections.
Men's Tennis: Luis Miranda was the lone senior on the team ... He is a three-time BIG EAST All-Academic Team selection.
Women's Tennis: Connor Brewer and Linley Busby were each named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Men's Track & Field (Indoor): Villanova won the BIG EAST team title three straight years from 2014-16 ... The senior class combined for eight career All-BIG EAST honors, while Ben Malone was a two-time BIG EAST champion in the 4x800 meter relay ... The 11 members of the senior class combined for 25 BIG EAST All-Academic Team honors.
Men's Track & Field (Outdoor): Villanova won back-to-back BIG EAST championships in 2014 and 2015 ... The senior class combined for six BIG EAST titles and 12 all-conference honors ... Villanova earned team recognition as a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team in each of the last three years ... Ben Malone was an honorable mention All-America selection in 2016.
Women's Track & Field (Indoor): The team won BIG EAST titles in 2014 and 2015 ... The members of the senior class combined for a pair of BIG EAST relay titles and a total of five All-BIG EAST honors ... The 11 members of the Class of 2017 combined for 24 selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Women's Track & Field (Outdoor): Villanova won BIG EAST titles in 2014 and 2015 ... Caroline Hamilton was a two-time BIG EAST javelin champion, with the seniors as a whole combining for four conference titles, 17 All-BIG EAST honors and three Penn Relays titles ... The team was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team in each of the last three years.
Volleyball: Villanova earned an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, when the Wildcats went 25-9 overall and 14-4 in BIG EAST play ... Each of the four members of the senior class have been three-time selections to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.
Water Polo: Villanova made three appearances in the MAAC Championship ... Olivia Perry and Mary Riley combined for five appearances on the MAAC All-Academic Team.