Villanova and the Sub-Four Minute Mile

For more than half a century the incredible middle distance runners that have competed for Villanova and represented the university on a worldwide stage have made up a substantial part of the tradition of excellence that defines the Wildcats track & field program.

There is one particular part of the program's history of middle distance greatness which stands out the most and it is the reputation Villanova has for developing world champion milers, as evidenced by the extraordinary number of Wildcats who have run a sub-four minute mile.

Over the years the Villanova numbers for one of running's greatest achievements have simply been staggering. An elite group that consists of 34 runners from the Wildcats program has combined to post sub-four minute times in the mile or an equivalent time in the 1500 meters (3:42.20) an astonishing 638 times.

The list of Villanovans who have run a sub-four minute mile spans more than 50 years, beginning with Ron Delany in 1958 and continuing most recently with current team member Samuel McEntee. The sub-four minute mile has always been a benchmark for middle distance runners and the Villanova milers who have achieved it have used the accomplishment as a springboard in their careers.  As a group the sub-four milers to come through the Wildcats have program have made a combined 22 appearances in the Olympics.

In the group of world champion milers that have come through the Wildcats program few can boast a resume that is on par with the achievements of head coach Marcus O'Sullivan, who is one of the few men in the world to have broken the four-minute barrier at least 100 times. O'Sullivan ran his 100th sub-four minute mile in February, 1998 at the Millrose Games and during his racing career accomplished the feat 101 times, plus another 83 races in which he ran sub-four equivalents in the 1500 meters.

During his tenure as Villanova head coach O'Sullivan has also coached 10 sub-four minute milers, with McEntee being the most recent when he ran a time of 3:57.86 on January 28, 2012 at the Penn State National meet.

McEntee also became the fifth runner from the Wildcats in the last six years to break the sub-four mark. The streak has a definitive starting point, as both Bobby Curtis and Michael Kerrigan ran a sub-four minute mile on the same day at the Swarthmore Last Chance Invitational on May 14, 2007.

Since then Villanova has added to its legacy with a sub-four equivalent run by Matthew Gibney in the 1500 meters at the NCAA Championships in 2009; Gibney later went on to post a mile time of 3:58.12 at the Flotrack Husky Classic in February, 2011. He has been joined on the sub-four list by Carl Mackenzie, who ran a 1500 meters equivalent on May 10, 2010 as well as by McEntee earlier this year.

Athlete Fastest Mile Date Number Fastest 1500 Date Number Total
Marcus O'Sullivan 3:50.96 2/14/87 101 3:34.57 5/20/92 83 184
Eamonn Coghlan 3:49.78 1/27/83 75 3:35.60 2/20/81 26 101
Sydney Maree 3:48.83 9/9/81 51 3:29.77 8/25/85 47 97
Marty Liquori 3:52.20 5/17/75 26 3:36.00 6/30/71 19 45
Adrian Blincoe 3:54.40 9/7/03 12 3:35.50 6/9/01 31 43
Phil Kane 3:55.87 7/3/79 14 3:39.10 7/6/78 23 37
Don Paige 3:54.19 5/9/82 10 3:37.33 6/17/79 6 16
Gerry O'Reilly 3:54.63 6/14/86 7 3:37.40 7/10/87 5 12
Ross Donoghue 3:55.29 5/13/84 8 3:36.95 4/28/84 4 12
Dick Buerkle 3:54.93 1/13/78 6 3:39.80 1/13/78 5 11
Frank Murphy 3:58.10 6/7/69 3 3:38.50 6/14/72 6 9
John Hartnett 3:54.70 6/21/73 4 3:38.10 6/22/74 4 8
Jason Jabaut 3:57.26 6/1/07 2 3:40.59 6/23/05 6 8
Mark Belger 3:57.40 4/16/80 5 3:39.30 8/19/79 2 7
Ryan Hayden 3:58.27 5/18/02 1 3:39.79 5 6
Matthew Gibney 3:58.12 2/12/11 1 3:38.34 7/1/11 5 6
Dave Patrick 3:56.80 6/1/68 3 3:39.90 6/15/68 1 4
Ron Delany 3:57.50 8/6/58 3 3:41.20 12/1/56 1 4
Louie Quintana 3:40.37 5/23/93 4 4
Ken Nason 3:58.91 4/1/95 1 3:41.24 6/2/95 2 3
John Keyworth 3:59.43 7/14/84 1 3:41.78 5/11/85 2 3
Sean O'Neill 3:38.86 5/30/87 3 3
Bobby Curtis 3:57.20 5/14/07 1 3:40.25 5/13/08 1 2
Amos Korir 3:59.30 1/12/79 2 2
Stephen Howard 3:58.80 5/14/97 1 1
Michael Kerrigan 3:59.60 5/14/07 1 1
Pat Traynor 3:59.60 8/10/68 1 1
Chris Mason 3:59.90 5/30/70 1 1
Ken Schappert 3:42.00 4/24/76 1 1
Jan Friedli 3:42.08 5/28/88 1 1
Dean Childs 3:42.10 7/4/78 1 1
Tom Parlapiano 3:41.51 1 1
Carl Mackenzie 3:41.99 5/10/10 1 1
Samuel McEntee 3:57.86 1/28/12 1 1