Track and Cross Country At NCAA Championships


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Track and Cross Country At NCAA Championships

Jamie Pennington, Staff Writer

On Saturday March 13, the Villanova men’s and women’s track teams competed at the 2021 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, and on Monday, March 15, the Cross Country teams competed in the 2020 Division I Championships.

In the men’s division at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships, Villanova redshirt freshman Sean Dolan broke 3:58 in both of his mile events, notching a remarkable time as well as a PR of 3:57.20 in Friday’s semifinal heat, placing fourth and earning an automatic berth to the final. This semifinal performance makes Dolan’s performance the fastest time for the mile in Villanova’s NCAA meet history. Dolan then held his own in the final event against a plethora of talented older competitors, notching his second sub-3:58 time, with 3:57.91, and gaining a sixth-place finish. Following this tremendous weekend of competition, Dolan became the 43rd member of Villanova’s sub four-minute mile club, while achieving two top-eight fastest indoor mile times in school history. Dolan’s contribution to the team event would assist in Villanova’s 10th straight NCAA indoor meet of scoring in the team division.

On the women’s side of the NCAA Indoor Track Championships, Villanova proved to be just as dominant. In the 800-meter event, senior McKenna Keegan recorded an extraordinary best mark twice in the two days of the championships. In the semifinal race, Keegan recorded a 59.55 400-meter split, and closed in on her competitor during the 400, passed her, then finished in seventh place, her best career NCAA individual finish, with a time of 2:04:56, as well as the seventh fastest indoor 800-meter time in Villanova history. Less than a day later, Keegan beat her semifinal time in the 800-meter final, recording a time of 2:04.2, ensuring an outstanding seventh place in the competition. Keegan’s final run would bump her previous day’s performance to the eighth fastest time in school history, with this final time placing seventh. Keegan contributed two team points for the Wildcats (their 12th consecutive year earning team points at the meet), as well as earning the honor of becoming the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.

As for the men’s cross country team, sophomore and Big East champion Haftu Strinzos and junior Josh Phillips respectively placed 66th and 67th out of 251 runners in the 10K race at the Oklahoma State University Cross Country Course. Strinzos would prevail with a time of 31:11.0, with Phillips placing a mere one-tenth of a second behind, with a time of 31:11.1. Additionally for the Wildcats, junior Charlie O’Donovan placed 109th overall (31:36.1), senior Nick Steele finished in 132nd place (31:59.6), senior Paul Nichols placed 168th (32:24.0), graduate student Justin Weber placed 213th (33:13.1) and rounding out the ‘Cats NCAA lineup in an extremely competitive field was junior Jack Fredian, placing 232nd (34:37.2). These performances contributed to the Wildcats 20th place overall win in the team competition, placing above eight nationally ranked squads.

In the NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships, individual qualifier junior Lydia Olivere displayed her talent in the 6000-meter event at the OSU Course,  just ten days after placing third at the Big East meet and earning a bid to the NCAA Championship. At the start, Olivere reached the front of the pack during the first kilometer downhill, while surpassing 15 runners over the final kilometer stretch. Olivere placed 91st overall with a time of 21:27.4.