09 Dec 2021 | 10:35 | Cross Country
PRINCETON, N.J.—All five of the Villanova scoring runners were among the top 12 overall finishers and senior Haftu Strintzos (Melbourne, Australia) was the individual champion for the second time in three starts this season to help lead the Wildcats to a first place team finish at the Princeton Invitational on Saturday morning. Villanova had a winning score of 32 points to top the field of 21 teams.
Strintzos covered the 8,000 meter course on the West Windsor Fields in 24:05.2 to notch his second win of the season. He was also the individual champion at the season-opening Main Line Invitational last month. In Saturday’s race Strintzos crossed the finish line 2.5 seconds ahead of the runner-up from Temple who posted a time of 24:07.7. Six of the first 14 runners across the line were Wildcats.
Villanova comfortably won the team title at the meet, with Stony Brook (65), Columbia (100), George Mason (158) and Temple (161) rounding out of the top five teams. Through their first three meets of the season the Wildcats have posted first place finishes at the Main Line Invitational and now Princeton to go along with a runner-up finish at the Paul Short Run two weeks ago.
Graduate students Nick Steele (Harvard, Mass.) and Justin Weber (South Milwaukee, Wis.) were the second and third runners in the Villanova lineup on Saturday morning. Steele finished fourth in the race with a time of 24:18.5 and Weber was close behind him in sixth place with a time of 24:19.2. Redshirt freshman Liam Murphy (Millstone, N.J.) was another top-10 finisher as he crossed the finish line ninth in 24:38.0. Graduate student Paul Nichols (Latham, N.Y.) was the final scorer for the Wildcats and came in 12th with a time of 24:40.6.
The spread between the top five in the Villanova lineup was just 35 seconds in a field more than 200 runners strong. Saturday’s meet was the final competition for the Wildcats before the team begins its preparations for the postseason meets which take place over the next six weeks. Graduate student Ryan Cutter (El Sobrante, Calif.) and redshirt freshman Jack Jennings (Mendham, N.J.) rounded out the team’s top seven. Cutter came in 14th with a time of 24:48.2 and Jennings added a 23rd place finish in 25:01.4.
Villanova had a contingent of 15 runners who finished Saturday’s race. The second half of the lineup featured graduate student Will Merritt (Smithsburg, Md.) and senior Patrick Spychalski (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) who finished within two seconds of each other in 34th (25:18.) and 36th (25:20.1) places, respectively. Senior Patrick Craemer (Upton, Mass.) was 44th (25:27.9) and junior Mathias Powell (Mahomet, Ill.) came in 50th (25:33.6), while senior Jack Fredian (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and redshirt freshman Cole Walker (Chadds Ford, Pa.) were 5th (25:38.8) and 61st (25:41.8).
Senior Ben Seiple (Westport, Conn.) and graduate student Martin Barr (Skokie, Ill.) recorded respective times of 25:57.1 and 26:36.6 in the race.
Next up for the Wildcats will be the BIG EAST Championships at Northview Church in Carmel, Ind. on October 29. The conference meet will be followed by the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and the NCAA Championships next month.