Men’s Track and Field Places Third at Big East Championship


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Sean Dolan (above) broke the Big East Championships record in the 800 meter to finish first in the event with a time of 1:47.53.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

Junior Sean Dolan said he had his eyes set on the Villanova school record in the mile run. 

While he did not set the mile record this weekend, he did break a long standing record in Villanova indoor track history at the Big East Championships in Chicago.

Dolan ran a 1:47.53 in the 800 meter event to claim the gold medal, surpassing the Villanova indoor track record of 1:47.84 set by John Marshall in 1982. The first place finish was one of eight podium spots for the Wildcats, as they earned third place with 96 points in the 18-event championship. Dolan’s 800 meter performance not only broke a school record but also surpassed the Big East Championships record of 1:47.59, previously held by Georgetown’s Joseph White.

I wanted to control it from the front,” Dolan said to the Big East Digital Network. “Now that I look back, it was a hard second half of it, and then it just kind of went to plan. I had great guys behind me the whole way.

Dolan was primed to break the indoor record this season given he ran a 1:48.11 on Jan. 15 at Ocean Breeze. Dolan did not have the chance to run the 800 meter again until the Big East Championships. Possibly missing out on the NCAA Championships pushed Dolan for a faster time.

“He needed to better his time to qualify to make sure he could get a position at the NCAAs,” head coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. 

Dolan ascended to 14th in the national rankings for the NCAA Division I Qualifying List in the 800 meters. The top 16 in each event will be selected for the NCAA Championships in two weeks.

The Wildcats won gold in the 800 meter and triple jump, silver medals in the 3000 meters and 4×800 meter relay and bronze in the 5000 meters, long jump, triple jump and shot put.

UConn routed the field with a tally of 227 points. DePaul finished second with a total of 99 points. Butler and Georgetown finished right behind Villanova with 95 and 91 points, respectively.

The first day of the meet was not what the Wildcats hoped for, but after a team meeting that evening emphasizing the job of doing one’s best, the team responded well on Saturday with a third place finish.

“I was very happy with their performance,” O’Sullivan said. “You gotta be realistic in terms of what manpower you have on the team. They clawed their way back, I mean, there was some great performances, some hidden performances, whether it was a point here or a point there.”

Senior triple jumper Malik Cunningham secured a first place finish in the triple jump, with a jump of 15.43 meters, which was well ahead of second place length of 14.08 meters. Graduate triple jumper Sosa Omuemu finished third, with a jump of 14.01 meters.

For Cunningham, the results are all based on his timing. The importance of safely getting a number on the board without fouling was key to securing 10 points for the ‘Cats, which explains why his length of jump was lower than previous meets.

“It’s all timing,” O’Sullivan said. “The biggest jump of the day was a foul, you know, so you foul by two inches and the jump gets cleaned.”

Cunningham is now in a three-way tie for 14th nationally in the triple jump with his personal best of 16.12 meters, which he set at Clemson.

Omuemu earned a much needed six points in third, putting two Wildcats on the awards podium in the triple jump for the first time in indoor or outdoor competition. 

“That was a big third for us, like, that’s where we started getting points with Sosa in the triple,” O’Sullivan said.

One of the silver medals was won by junior Haftu Strintzos in the 3000 meters. Strintzos ran a personal best time of 7:56.07. Strintzos finished third in the 5000 meters on Friday, with a time of 13:48.72, which came close to breaking his personal best of 13:47.32 in March 2021.

The 4×800 meter relay team picked up a silver medal on Saturday. The quartet of redshirt freshman Liam Murphy, senior Charlie O’Donovan, junior Miller Anderson and Dolan ran a time of 7:26.13. Georgetown bested Villanova by less than three seconds.   

Graduate Michael Troup placed third in the long jump, with a distance of 7.06 meters. This is the first time Troup has cleared the seven meter mark this season.

“[Troup earning third on Friday was] one of the highlights of the first day,” O’Sullivan said. “Those performances are the things at the end of the day where we can rally around.”

The other medalist for Villanova was graduate thrower Riley LaRiviere. LaRiviere launched a 14.93 meter shot put throw to place third.

The Wildcats have a week off before the most important meet of the indoor season in Birmingham, Alabama, as Dolan and Cunningham will seek to improve their results with high finishes at the NCAA Championships on Mar. 11 and 12.