Men’s cross country takes 6th in Great American Cross Country Festival

Sam Carella

Villanova’s men’s cross country team traveled to Cary, N.C. for the Great American Cross Country Festival last Friday. The festival was a nice change of scenery for the ‘Cats, providing the team with the chance to race a several competitive teams early in the season. Unfortunately for the men, race conditions did not present the relaxed atmosphere they had hoped for. Due to recent rainfall, the course was muddy, slowing down the runners for the majority of the race. Also running in the hot and humid climate of North Carolina, the runners faced several obstacles out of their control before the race even began. The results of the race were neither spectacular nor very disappointing. Several Wildcats had great performances while others encountered difficulty with the conditions. After leading the five-mile race for four and a half miles, senior Jon Fasulo recorded an outstanding performance with a second place finish in 25:40 minutes. The normally slow-starting Fasulo took the lead from the gun for one of the first times in his career and dictated the tempo of the race early on. Relinquishing the lead to Travis Laird of Northern Arizona 500 meters from the finish, Fasulo made a valiant late race effort to reclaim the lead but came up on the finish line too soon. He finished just six seconds behind Laird, two seconds ahead of the four minute miler Tommy Bonn from Texas A&M and a solid 15 seconds ahead of sub-four minute miler Nick Willis of Michigan. The race was a solid breakthrough for the senior, who looks to add national accolades to the conference and regional awards he won last year. The next ‘Cat across the line was sophomore Milos Mitric. He placed eighth in 26:02 minutes. Running strong throughout the race, Mitric established his position early in the race and held his ground through the finish line. Bobby Curtis, after finishing ahead of Mitric at Haverford last weekend, found himself battling for a place in the top 10 for most of the race. Eventually fading to 37th place, Curtis came home 32 seconds behind the leader. Villanovan’s Kippy Keino (52nd), Jason Jabaut (71st) and Marc Pelerin (72nd) rounded out the scoring for the ‘Cats, posting times of 27:00, 27:23 and 27:24, respectively. Freshman David Van Orsdel was 84th after crossing the line in 27:39. Wildcat senior Mike Botti felt that the competition was a good early season test to see what kind of shape the team is currently in. “We haven’t done many workouts yet and it’s good to see that we’re already competitive with the other top teams in the country,” Botti said. “Now we can just move on and get in some good work before the championship meets.” ‘Nova’s performance was good enough for sixth place overall. Although behind competitors they are likely to see at the national competition in November, the performances bode well for the early season considering the limited workouts the team has completed thus far. Selected ‘Cats will race next this upcoming weekend at Lehigh University in the Paul Short Invitational and the full squad returns two weeks later at Pre-Nationals which will be held in northern Iowa.