Haftu Strintzos Wins Main Line Invitational as Wildcats Start Season Off Strong

09 Dec 2021 | 10:37 | Cross Country

HAVERFORD, Pa.—Senior runners Haftu Strintzos (Melbourne, Australia) and Josh Phillips (Belrose, Australia) combined for a 1-2 finish and Villanova started off the season on a strong note at the Main Line Invitational on Friday evening. Strintzos paced a field of 122 runners with a winning time of 19:02.4 on the four-mile Alumni Course on the Haverford College campus. He was one of 10 members of the Wildcats lineup who finished in the top 15 overall.

Strintzos and Phillips recorded the two fastest times for any Villanova runner on the four-mile course at Haverford, where the Wildcats have opened the season with the Main Line Invitational for the better part of the last 20 years. The time of 19:02.4 for Strintzos and the mark of 19:06.8 for Phillips in second place each beat the previous Villanova mark of 19:09.48 for four miles which was run by Patrick Tiernan on the same Haverford course in 2013. The Wildcats have now had 12 runners break 19:30 at Haverford.

Senior Charlie O’Donovan, graduate student Nick Steele (Harvard, Mass.) and redshirt freshman Liam Murphy (Millstone, N.J.) rounded out the Villanova scoring runners. O’Donovan was fifth in 19:21.2, Steele came in sixth with a time of 19:23.1 and Murphy finished ninth in 19:32.7 in his first collegiate cross country race. Graduate student Martin Barr (Skokie, Ill.) was also in the top 10 with a 10th place overall finish and a time of 19:34.6.

There were 17 athletes in action for the Wildcats in the first meet of the season and Villanova topped a field of eight teams with 23 points. Penn (53) and La Salle (65) made up the rest of the top three in the team standings.

Graduate students Ryan Cutter (El Sobrante, Calif.) and Justin Weber (South Milwaukee, Wis.) placed 11th and 13th overall with times of 19:35.5 and 19:36.4, respectively. Cutter was making his debut for the Wildcats as a graduate transfer from the University of Chicago. Villanova’s lineup looked strong with a spread of just 34 seconds separating its top seven runners.

Four other runners finished among the top 20, including redshirt freshman Jack Jennings (Mendham, N.J.), senior Patrick Spychalski (Mount Pleasant, S.C.), graduate student Will Merritt (Smithsburg, Md.) and junior Sean Dolan (Pennington, N.J.). Jennings placed 14th in his collegiate debut in 19:44.4 and Spychalski also broke 20 minutes with a 15th place finish and a time of 19:54.9. Merritt is a transfer from Mount St. Mary’s and placed 18th in 20:01.1, two spots ahead of Dolan in 20th place with a time of 20:02.7.

Seniors Jack Fredian (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Ben Seiple (Westport, Conn.) finished 21st (20:02.9) and 30th (20:21.7) overall, while junior Miller Anderson (West Hartford, Conn.) came in 36th with a time of 20:34.2. Also running for the Wildcats were redshirt freshman Chris Weeks (Springfield, Va.) who finished in 20:42.5 and graduate student Jacob Bonanotte (Barrington, Ill.) who posted a time of 21:53.6.

Villanova will next be in action on the September 1 when it competes in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh.

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