Oct. 25, 2012
In each of the first two scored meets of the season the Villanova men's cross country team has run exceptionally well and head coach Marcus O'Sullivan has been able to count on his full roster being healthy and in excellent shape. It is for those reasons that the Wildcats can look towards this week's BIG EAST Championships with a great deal of optimism, as the team looks to defend its title from last season.
For the first time since 2008 the conference meet returns to Van Cortlandt Park in New York, where the men's and women's races are set for Friday morning. The men's 8,000 meter race begins at 11:50 a.m. and will be followed shortly after by the awards ceremony.
Villanova carries the No. 2 ranking in the Mid-Atlantic Region and a No. 25 national ranking into Friday's meet based on the most recent polls released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). So far this season the Wildcats won the team title at the Paul Short Run in late September and registered an eighth place finish at the Pre-NCAA Meet two weeks ago.
The trio of sophomore Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia), senior Mathew Mildenhall (Auckland, New Zealand) and freshman Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) have run at the top of the Villanova lineup this season and are expected to lead the team again this week. McEntee and Mildenhall each earned All-BIG EAST honors last season to help the Wildcats win the fourth team title in their history.
Villanova has also gotten strong results so far this season from redshirt freshman Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.), junior Greg Morrin (Hockessin, Del.) and senior Matt Kane (Fairfield, Conn.), giving the Wildcats one of their deepest lineups in the past several years.
The various conference championships held around the country serve as the start of the postseason portion of the cross country schedule each year. After a break next weekend Villanova will be back in action at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on November 2 at Penn State, while the NCAA Championships are in Louisville, Ky. on November 17.
At the BIG EAST meet on Friday the Wildcats will be one of three nationally-ranked teams competing. Syracuse is ranked No. 16 in the country and holds the No. 3 spot in the Northeast Region, while Villanova and Georgetown come in second and third, respectively, in the Mid-Atlantic Region poll. The Hoyas are ranked No. 27 in the country.