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Men’s Cross Country Places Third in Close Race at BIG EAST Championships
Oct. 28, 2017

Complete Results

KENOSHA, Wis. - The sophomore trio of Andrew Marston (Wayne, Pa.), Casey Comber (Maple Glen, Pa.) and Paul Power (Phoenixville, Pa.) led Villanova to a third place showing on Saturday morning in a remarkably close finish to the BIG EAST Championships at Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course. Each of the Wildcats top three runners earned first team All-BIG EAST honors in a race where just 17 points separated Georgetown, Butler and Villanova in the team standings.

Marston was the individual runner-up in a field of 85 runners with a time of 24:42.7 on the 8,000 meter course. Comber was just behind him in third place (24:40.6) and Power placed ninth (25:01.7) to give the Wildcats three runners in the top-10 for the fifth straight year. The top five finishers for Villanova were separated by just over a minute at the finish line, with redshirt freshmen Martin Barr (Skokie, Ill.) and Nick Steele (Harvard, Mass.) coming in 21st (25:34.0) and 22nd (25:34.3) on each other’s heels.

The scoring battle between the top three teams shaped up early, with Butler gaining an early lead over the first 2,000 meters. By the midpoint of the race, a leading group of eight runners had gained a bit of separation over the rest of the pack. Marston and Comber were right in the middle of that group, and by the 5,000 meter mark the team scores still showed Butler with a slight edge and both Georgetown and Villanova firmly in contention.

It was the Hoyas who wound up taking the team title with 40 points, while Butler (54) and Villanova (57) finished second and third. The rest of the team scores included Providence (94), Marquette (129), DePaul (157), Creighton (241), Xavier (242) and Seton Hall (243). This is the 21st time in 38 years at the BIG EAST Championships that the Wildcats have tallied a top-three team finish. It is the 22nd time that Villanova has had at least three All-BIG EAST performers.



The temperature was just 38 degrees with a wind chill of 28 at the start of the men’s race on Saturday morning, as the conference meet returned to the Wayne E. Dannehl course for the first time in four years. The third place finish was an encouraging one for a Villanova team that has made great strides during the course of the season. Seven of the team’s nine finishers are in their first or second year of collegiate cross country eligibility.

Redshirt freshman Paul Nichols (Latham, N.Y.) and senior Ben Malone (River Vale, N.J.) were just behind the Wildcats scoring runners. Nichols finished 26th with a time of 25:42.9 and Malone was 28th in 25:50.2. The final two finishers for Villanova were sophomore Logan Wetzel (Saline, Mich.) in 40th place (26:03.5) and junior Zach Swenson (Boulder, Colo.) in 43rd (26:10.0).

Prior to the conference meet, the Wildcats had finished 14th at the Paul Short Run and then third at the Penn State National Open when they had their full lineup competing together for the first time. The team will look to continue its momentum at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Lehigh in two weeks.


Team Standings

Georgetown           1st of 9             40
Butler               2nd                  54
Villanova            3rd                  57
Providence           4th                  94
Marquette            5th                  129
DePaul               6th                  157
Creighton            7th                  241
Xavier               8th                  242
Seton Hall           9th                  243

Individual Results

Andrew Marston       2nd of 85            24:32.7    
Casey Comber         3rd                  24:40.6
Paul Power           9th                  25:01.7
Martin Barr          21st                 25:34.0
Nick Steele          22nd                 25:34.3
Paul Nichols         26th                 25:42.9
Ben Malone           28th                 25:50.2
Logan Wetzel         40th                 26:03.5
Zach Swenson         43rd                 26:10.0