Three Runners Record Sub-Four Minute Miles


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Sean Dolan (left), Charlie O’Donovan (middle) and Liam Murphy (right) all ran sub-four minute miles.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

The Villanova men’s track and field team traveled to University Park, PA on Saturday to compete in the Sykes and Sabock Challenge, where senior Charlie O’Donovan, junior Sean Dolan and redshirt freshman Liam Murphy all ran the mile in under four minutes. 

“The collection between Penn State and us [Villanova], you know, you get a pacemaker in there to keep the race going, so everyone kinda knows before that it’s an attempt at four minutes,” said Villanova head coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “There was enough competitiveness in the field that five guys went under four minutes, and we had three of them.” 

Murphy joins O’Donovan and Dolan from the current roster as the 44th member of the sub four-minute club for Villanova men’s track. O’Donovan and Dolan each have two of the top-10 fastest indoor mile times in school history. 

“Two weeks ago, he ran a 4:04 at Ocean Breeze,” O’Sullivan said about Murphy. “He finished in 28 seconds for his last 200 out of 4:04, so I felt like there was a lot more room in there for him, but still, to even go from 4:04 to even 4:02 to 3:59, they’re big steps. You know, it’s different to run 4:04 and then to come run 3:59. So, the training was indicative he could do it, but you still, it’s the maturity. It’s the confidence, and so before the race with Liam, I said ‘just don’t get into trouble, just stay off the back of the lead group that was formed.’ There were two groups formed, and I said ‘do as much relaxation and rest as you possibly can to conserve energy,’ and in many ways, that’s the difference of just slipping under four and being just over four.”

The Saturday race at Penn State was a competitive one among the trio, as all three runners were separated by just over two seconds. O’Donovan bested Dolan and Murphy with a time of 3:57.46 to finish second in the field of 37 runners. O’Donovan was only 0.31 seconds off of the winning time, set by Penn State sophomore Evan Dorenkamp. Dolan finished third in the race, 0.13 seconds behind O’Donovan, with a time of 3:57.59. Murphy earned a fifth place finish, with a time of 3:59.63.

O’Donovan and Dolan are currently ranked 13th and 15th, respectively, on the season’s NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying List. The top 16 declared athletes in each individual event contested at the NCAA Championships will be selected for the national meet in March.

In addition to success in the mile, Villanova had entries in the 600 meters and the 3000 meters. Junior Miller Anderson impressed again on Saturday, recording the seventh fastest 600 meters time in school history at 1:20.04. The time was a personal record for Anderson and was enough for second place in the heat. Anderson’s strong suit is the 800, but he often runs other races to get him more opportunities.

“Dropping him down to the 600 yesterday was just a tactic to just kinda get him more primed, and we’ll move him back up to the 800 for getting ready for Conference,” O’Sullivan said.

In the 3000 meters, Villanova entered five runners, including the trio of senior Josh Phillips, junior Haftu Strintzos and redshirt freshman Jack Jennings, who all registered personal bests and finished in the top 10. Phillips broke the eight-minute barrier for the first time in his career, with a time of 7:59.44, placing him in fourth out of 31 runners. Strintzos finished in sixth place, with a time of 8:00.77, while Jennings placed ninth, with a time of 8:16.22, beating his previous high school personal best by nearly 40 seconds. 

“He [Jennings] went out too hard,” O’Sullivan said. “He got burned on the back end of that race. He’s got a bigger race, I think, if he gets into the right pitched race.”

The other two runners in the 3000 meter race were graduate student Ryan Cutter, who recorded a time of 8:26.11, to finish in 13th place, and senior Ben Seiple, who followed right behind in 14th, with a time of 8:26.31. 

The men’s track and field team had to adjust its plans last minute, as Villanova was originally scheduled to compete in the John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston. But when winter storm Kenan blasted the east coast, the team switched to the Sykes and Sabock Challenge at Penn State. 

After having the weekend off, the women’s team will rejoin the men’s squad as they break into groups and compete at both the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite Meet and the Dr. Sander Invitational/Colombia Challenge in New York next weekend.