Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Since the middle of the 2010 season the Villanova men's cross country team has been on an upswing and that trend continued with a 13th place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday afternoon. The team finish was 10 spots higher than where the Wildcats finished last year and the team's five counting runners for Villanova were separated by just 33 seconds at the finish line. The national championships meet returned to the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center for the 10th straight year.
Senior Ryan Sheridan (Melville, N.Y.) paced Villanova with a 66th place finish and registered a time of 30:31.0. He was followed in short order by junior Mathew Mildenhall (Auckland, New Zealand) and freshman Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia), who came in 74th (30:36.9) and 77th (30:38.1), respectively. Seniors Matthew Gibney (Albury, Australia) in 109th place (30:52.3) and Keith Capecci (New Hope, Pa.) in 135th place (31:03.2) rounded out the top five for the team.
The season ended on a strong note for Sheridan, who was the top scorer for the Wildcats for the second straight meet after leading the team with an eighth place individual finish at last weekend's NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Mildenhall also stepped up with a strong race and his second place spot on the team was his highest finish within the lineup this season.
For the purpose of the team score the points earned by the Villanova lineup began with Sheridan being 51st, followed by Mildenhall (55), McEntee (58), Gibney (83) and Capecci (105). The Wildcats were making their fifth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships and made their 29th appearance all-time at the national meet.
The sixth and seventh runners for Villanova were senior Brian Long (Louisville, Ky.) and junior Matt Kane (Fairfield, Conn.), who finished 145th (31:09.9) and 168th (31:24.5) in the overall field of 252 runners.
During the postseason the Wildcats won the program's fourth BIG EAST title and finished second in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, a spot which guaranteed the team an automatic bid to the championships.
The run of success for Villanova began with a fourth place finish last season at the BIG EAST Championships, when the team's regular lineup ran together for the first time during the entire season. The Wildcats came in second at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and earned an automatic berth in the national championships meet.
Following a 23rd place finish at the championships last season Villanova was geared up for a big follow-up campaign in 2011. That eventually came to fruition with a strong showing at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational followed by a dominant win at the BIG EAST Championships.