09 Dec 2021 | 10:34 | Cross Country
CARMEL, Ind.—In the first of three postseason meets on the annual cross country schedule nine men’s teams and 11 women’s teams will converge on the Northview Church Course on Friday morning for the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships Presented by JEEP. The conference meet gets underway with the men’s 8K race starting at 11 a.m., while the women’s 6K race will follow at 11:50 a.m. An awards ceremony takes place once both races have concluded.
The broadcast of the BIG EAST Cross Country Championship Presented by JEEP is being produced by the BIG EAST Digital Network Presented by SoFi and the live action can be seen on FloSports. Matt Schumacker and Gab Kreuz will call both races. Links to the broadcast and to live results from the conference championships can be found within this release.
This season marks the third time that Northview Church will host the BIG EAST Championships. The meet was previously held at the site, just outside of downtown Indianapolis, in 2014 and 2018. Villanova won the men’s team title in cold, rainy and snowy conditions in 2014 and came in second four years later. At the 2014 conference meet the Wildcats made history as the first and still only BIG EAST men’s team to tally a 1-2-3 sweep at the finish line.
Villanova is led this season by the experienced quartet of Haftu Strintzos (Melbourne, Australia), Josh Phillips (Belrose, Australia), Charlie O’Donovan (Cork, Ireland) and Nick Steele (Harvard, Mass.). Strintzos, Phillips and O’Donovan are all seniors academically and Steele is a graduate student, although all four have endured stops and starts during their cross country careers due to redshirt seasons and the COVID pandemic.
Strintzos is the reigning BIG EAST individual champion from the Spring and has continued his momentum by winning two of his three starts this year. He came in first in the season-opening Main Line Invitational last month and tallied another victory at the Princeton Invitational two weeks ago. Strintzos and Phillips went 1-2 at Haverford College in the season opener, then switched places to go 2-3 with Phillips crossing the finish line just ahead of Strintzos at the Paul Short Run on October 1. O’Donovan finished fifth at the Main Line Invitational and seventh at the Paul Short Run.
Villanova has produced the individual men’s champion at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championship in six of the last eight seasons and 13 times overall. From a team standpoint the Wildcats have won seven BIG EAST titles with the last championship coming in 2019.
The top 20 individual finishers at the conference meet will be named to the All-BIG EAST Team at the awards ceremony following the races. The first 10 runners across the finish line will garner first team All-BIG EAST status, while the next 10 runners will earn spots on the second team. Villanova has had a total of 117 All-BIG EAST performers over the years and has placed five or more runners in the top 20 in each of the last three seasons.
In the most recent rankings released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) the Wildcats are ranked No. 24 nationally and No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Region entering the BIG EAST Championships. The only other conference team in the national poll is Georgetown at No. 27, and the Hoyas are also No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic poll.
Following the BIG EAST Championships, Villanova will next prepare for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Lehigh on November 12.