Oct. 26, 2012
BRONX, N.Y. - Villanova came in fifth as a team with 114 points at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships at Van Cortlandt Park on Friday afternoon and sophomore Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia) led the Wildcats with a 17th place individual finish. The top five runners for Villanova were separated by just 21 seconds at the finish line and placed between 17th and 31st individually.
McEntee registered a time of 25:04.13 on the 8,000-meter course and was the Wildcats top runner for the third time in four races this season. He and senior Mathew Mildenhall (Auckland, New Zealand) both recorded top-20 finishes in the field of 114 runners. Mildenhall had a finishing time of 25:06.13 in 19th place.
The rest of the top five for Villanova included redshirt freshman Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.), freshman Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) and junior Alex Tully (Little Rock, Ark.). This was the first BIG EAST meet in cross country for both Denault and Williamsz and they finished in 21st place (25:12.18) and 26th place (25:19.83), respectively. Tully placed 31st with a time of 25:25.88.
Entering the conference championships meet the Wildcats had designs on defending their BIG EAST team title from a year ago. Syracuse wound up claiming the championship for the third time in the last four years with a team score of just 37 points.
Despite a comfortable day for running the field went out slow in the first mile of the race and none of the teams had broken away from the pack early on. By the time the runners emerged from the wooded hills and headed for the long final straightaway the Orange looked to have the conference title well in hand.
"I was worried after the first mile because our guys did not seem to have that great a handle on the race," Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "They were right there towards the front of the pack but I think there were opportunities for us to have been more aggressive earlier in the race."
In addition to winning the team title Syracuse also produced the individual champion in Martin Hehir, who had a winning time of 24:37.20. He was one of six Orange runners to earn All-BIG EAST honors for finishing in the top 15 overall. The five counting runners from Syracuse all finished between first and 13th in the race.
The runner-up in the team standings was Georgetown with a score of 67 points, while Notre Dame (70) and Providence (109) also finished in front of the Wildcats. The rest of the team scores included Louisville (129), Cincinnati (216), Marquette (240), Connecticut (278), DePaul (303), Rutgers (307), Pittsburgh (321), USF (418) and Seton Hall (434).
"Syracuse ran exceptionally well and I don't think anyone could have beaten them today," O'Sullivan said. "However, I do think there was a chance for us to have finished higher than we did. Every team has days when they are off so we will have to be better at [the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional] in two weeks."
Sophomore Brian Basili (South Orange, N.J.) and senior Matt Kane (Fairfield, Conn.) rounded out the top seven in the Wildcats lineup with finishes of 40th and 44th, respectively. Basili registered a time of 25:47.34 and Kane crossed the finish line in 25:58.73. Juniors Greg Morrin (Hockessin, Del.) and John Pickhaver (Drexel Hill, Pa.) came in 53rd (26:12.13) and 59th (26:19.82).
Villanova returns to action for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday, November 9 at Penn State.