Nov. 15, 2013
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Freshman Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) and junior Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) finished first and second in dominating fashion as Villanova won both the individual and team titles at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday afternoon. Tiernan crossed the finish line in 29:37 on the 10,000 meter course and all five scoring runners for the Wildcats placed in the top 12 overall. Villanova finished with a team score of 34 at the Lehigh Cross Country Course to beat out Princeton (60), Georgetown (63) and the rest of the 26-team field.
The season to this point for the Wildcats has been one of the strongest in recent years and the results of the regional race showed that. Villanova won the team title at the Mid-Atlantic Regional for the first time since 2003, while Tiernan is the team's first individual regional champion since Bobby Curtis in 2007. Each of the Wildcats top six runners earned All-Mid Atlantic Region honors for placing in the top 25 overall and Villanova will now head to the NCAA Championships with a full team bid for the sixth consecutive year.
McEntee recorded a time of 29:44 to place second in the race, while sophomores Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.) and Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) came in ninth (29:58) and 10th (30:10), respectively. Junior Brian Basili (South Orange, N.J.) was 12th (30:12) to round out the scoring column. There was a spread of just 35 seconds between the Wildcats five scoring runners and just 1:35 from one to seven in the Villanova lineup. Senior Alex Tully (Little Rock, Ark.) came in 23rd (30:37) and redshirt freshman Harry Warnick (Fairfield, Conn.) finished 39th (31:12).
"The guys are continuing to perform every time out," Wildcats head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "It makes it easier when you have a guy like Pat up front but the rest of the guys are all right there. You can't build a team around one guy. You need a group that functions together as a unit and having someone like Pat at the front of that group is the sweetener."
Tiernan has been the top finisher for Villanova in five consecutive races and has won the individual titles at both the BIG EAST Championships and today's regional meet, while leading the Wildcats to the team championship at both events. Villanova won its fifth conference title earlier this month with a team score of 36, its lowest winning score at the conference meet. Today's team score for the Wildcats was even lower.
"It has been a really good season," Tiernan said. "Everyone on the team is in the best shape of their lives and we look good going into Nationals next week. It makes it comfortable for me to go out there when I know that all of the other guys are right up there. At the end of the day this is a team game and each guy is out there trying to run a good race. This is a great team for me to be a part of."
At the first mile mark of the race the pack of runners had not yet begun to thin out. By the time Tiernan reached the 8,000 meter mark he was well in front of the rest of the field of 179 runners. He was on cruise control as he headed down the final straightaway towards the finish line.
"For the first half of the race all of us were up there and doing well. At about the halfway mark I made a little bit of a move. It was a controlled effort but a good effort. I still feel like I need to find another gear to run in next week. That will be a team thing. We all know it will be the last race of the season and that gives the whole team another gear. The other guys have told me that Nationals is a great atmosphere and we are all anxious to run in it. There will be some nerves but that just makes you run faster."
O'Sullivan noted earlier in the season that Villanova had been able to get off to a faster start this season than has been typical in recent years. At the team's first scored race of the season the Wildcats came in second to host Arkansas at the Chile Pepper Festival, then went on to win the Princeton Invitational prior to the last two wins at the BIG EAST and regional meets. The steady string of successful results has Villanova in a great place entering the NCAA Championships.
"If anything Arkansas was our worst race and that was really our first time out," O'Sullivan said. "The guys are having a good time right now and enjoying this but I can tell that they still don't feel like they have arrived yet. They don't feel like they are done. Now we need to get ready to run at Nationals. The big difference is that there isn't as much space to run in and that is something we have to prepare for. It is kind of like a big crowd running to catch a train in a subway station, but each person is running really fast. It isn't as comfortable but we are in good enough shape to manage that."
The NCAA Championships will be held in Terre Haute, Ind. on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course next Saturday. The site was most recently the host of the national meet in 2011, when the Wildcats earned a 13th place team finish.
COMPLETE VILLANOVA RESULTS
Patrick Tiernan 1st of 179 29:37 Sam McEntee 2nd 29:44 Rob Denault 9th 29:58 Jordy Williamsz 10th 30:10 Brian Basili 12th 30:12 Alex Tully 23rd 30:37 Harry Warnick 39th 31:12
Team Standings (Top 5)
1. Villanova 34 2. Princeton 60 3. Georgetown 63 4. Penn 152 5. Penn State 175