09 Dec 2021 | 10:38 | Cross Country
NEW ORLEANS—Sophomore cross country runner Haftu Strintzos (Victoria, Australia) and head coach Marcus O’Sullivan were each recognized by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the Mid-Atlantic Region Men’s Athlete of the Year and Men’s Head Coach the Year in an announcement made on Thursday afternoon. This is the 12th time in his coaching career that O’Sullivan has been named the Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year, including the eighth time in cross country.
Strintzos emerged as the top performer for Villanova this season at the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Championships during the abbreviated spring cross country season. He won his first career conference title at the BIG EAST meet, where he posted a winning time of 23:05.2 over 8000 meters at WakeMed Soccer Field Park in Cary, N.C. Strintzos went on to pace the Wildcats with a 66th place finish at the NCAA Championships with a time of 31:11.0 over 10000 meters on the Oklahoma State University Cross Country Course.
The wait of just over a year from the end of the 2020 indoor track & field season to the BIG EAST cross country meet on March 5 was a worthwhile one for Strintzos, who was a scoring runner for the Wildcats as a redshirt freshman in 2019 when he earned first team All-BIG EAST and Mid-Atlantic All-Region honors. His finish at the NCAA Championships earlier this week was 76 spots than where he finished in 2019 in his debut at the national meet. Strintzos is the seventh Villanova men’s athlete to be named the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year in men’s cross country, including the fifth in the last eight years.
O’Sullivan guided the Wildcats to an at-large selection to the NCAA Championships and saw his Villanova team finish 20th among the 30 teams who competed at the national meet. That is the best finish for the Wildcats since 2014 and was a particularly strong finish after Villanova entered the championships unranked in the final top-30 national poll released after the selected teams for the NCAA Championships were revealed. The lineup for the Wildcats at the national championships included three athletes among the team’s seven who were making their debut at an NCAA meet.
Villanova also tallied a third place finish in a close race at the BIG EAST Championships, where Strintzos was the individual champion and each of the first six runners in the Wildcats lineup earned all-conference honors. Strintzos was joined as a first team All-BIG EAST honoree by junior Josh Phillips (Belrose, Australia), while the quartet of senior Nick Steele (Harvard, Mass.), junior Charlie O’Donovan (Dublin, Ireland), senior Paul Nichols (Latham, N.Y.) and junior Jack Fredian (Arlington Heights, Ill.) were all second team performers.