NEW ORLEANS - Villanova earned first team All-America honors in the men’s distance medley relay in an announcement made by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday morning. A lineup that included senior Ben Malone (River Vale, N.J.), freshman Brian Faust (Stone Mountain, Ga.), junior Harry Purcell (Dublin, Ireland) and sophomore Casey Comber (Maple Glen, Pa.) finished eighth in the DMR at the NCAA Championships last weekend to continue the Wildcats tradition in the relay.
Strong efforts on all four legs of the DMR helped Villanova post a time of 9:35.49 and finish eighth in a competitive and physical race. Malone led off with a split of 2:57.18 for the first 1200 meters, followed by Faust in 47.75 on the 400 meter leg, Purcell in 1:49.51 over 800 meters and Comber with a split of 4:01.06 on the 1600 meter anchor leg. The overall time posted by the Wildcats was nearly two seconds faster than their top time for the season going into the national meet.
Villanova has now earned All-America honors in the distance medley relay 25 times at the indoor NCAA Championships, the most of any individual or relay event that the Wildcats have competed in. That number includes first team All-America recognition for finishing in the top eight of the relay in four straight years and five times out of the last six seasons. Villanova also finished eighth at last year’s national championships.
Each of the 12 accepted entries in the DMR for the NCAA Championships had a qualifying time below 9:30 during the season, which made this the fastest DMR field in the history of the indoor national meet. It was at the UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C. last month that the Wildcats earned their NCAA qualification. Villanova recorded a time of 9:37.30 in that race, with the time being converted down to 9:29.57 to account for the flat surface at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. The qualifying time ranked the team 11th going into the NCAA meet, with the Wildcats beating that ranking by three spots. The two teams that finished ahead of Villanova at the UCS meet – Ole Miss and Georgetown – came in behind the Wildcats at NCAAs.
The four runners who made up Villanova’s distance medley relay squad all had strong individual indoor campaigns as well. Purcell and Comber won BIG EAST individual titles in the 400 meters and the 3000 meters, respectively, while Purcell ran on the conference champion 4x400 meter relay and Comber anchored the DMR to a BIG EAST title. Faust was the runner-up to Purcell in the 400 meters at the BIG EAST meet and anchored the 4x400 relay victory, while Malone tallied a fourth place finish in the 800 meters and ran the second leg of the conference champion 4x800 meter relay. Malone also had a personal best time of 2:22.24 in the 1000 meters during the season, with that time ranking as the eighth-fastest in school history.
Villanova has produced 259 All-Americans at the indoor NCAA Championships, including at least one top-eight finish in a relay or individual event in each of the last eight years.