Men’s Track and Field Opens Outdoor Season


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Joe DiDario (above) threw a personal best of 59.52 meters in the javelin.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

The unseasonably warm, sunny day at Franklin Field was the backdrop for a few first place finishes and numerous personal bests in the throwing and running events in the men’s track and field’s first outdoor meet of the season at the Penn Challenge on Saturday afternoon.

The day was marked with many throws rewriting the Villanova history books, including the usual suspect, graduate Riley LaRiviere, who threw for 55.45 meters in the hammer throw to finish fourth. This is the eighth longest hammer throw in Villanova history.

Junior Joe DiDario threw for a personal best of 59.52 meters in the javelin event, which put him in sixth place out of 18 competitors. DiDario was one of three Wildcats to finish in the top10 for the javelin event with sophomore Andrew Grinnell slightly behind DiDario, with a throw of 59.12 meters, and sophomore Nick Coffey recording a throw of 57.67 meters, putting him in 10th place.

It is hard to find a group of throwers that can stick together and help each other improve, but the trio found this unity.

“Sometimes you only have one javelin thrower on the team,” head coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “They’ve got a whole group, which have allowed them to actually train during the wintertime, and stay together as a cohesive group. I’m expecting good Big East competition performances from them when we get to Big East (meets).”

Freshman thrower Tristan Bolinsky made his collegiate debut, finishing sixth out of 13 in the discus, with a throw of 47.53 meters, and seventh out of eight in the hammer throw, with a launch of 47.34 meters.

Bolinksy finds himself in ninth place on the Villanova performance list in the discus and is the third Wildcat thrower in that last three outdoor seasons to rank in the top 10 in the record book.  

Bolinsky is a part of this throwing group that has high expectations. This meet was meant for the throwing group to explore and record some solid performances.

“It takes a couple more meets to kind of crystalize in terms of what we have,” O’Sullivan said. 

In the running events, one of the solid performances came in the 400 meter hurdles. Sophomore Nicholas Mollica earned first place in the event, with a time of 54.26. This is the second fastest time of his collegiate career, behind his outdoor 400 meter hurdle time of 53.82, which was recorded last April at the Philadelphia Metropolitan Collegiate Invitational.

“(Mollica) ran well yesterday,” O’Sullivan said. “He came home strong to win the race.”

Junior Mac Costonis placed fifth out of six in the 400 meter hurdles event, with a time of 56.48. Costonis is still chasing the personal best he set last May at the Penn Twilight, where he ran a 56.01 in the same event.

In the 2000 meter steeplechase, junior Mathias Powell placed first, with a time of 5:57.70, which beat the second place finisher by almost seven seconds. Senior Patrick Spychalski ran a time of 6:08.92 in the 2000 meter steeplechase, putting him in third place in the three person event.

This was the first time Powell ran the 2000 meter steeplechase as a collegiate runner, and the event was run so the runners could be in top shape for the 3000 meter steeplechase later in the season.

“I’m excited for Mathias,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a new event for him. He’s actually very, very good. He’s a very good technical steeplechaser. I’ve come to the conclusion that he is naturally good at it.”

Powell had a hard time finding his event, as he was struggling for his first three years with the flat events, but the 2000 steeplechase may be the one that he finds his niche in. Powell will have to contend with an extra kilometer in the normal 3000 meter steeplechase, but his strong finish in the 2000 meter steeplechase showed promise.

In the 1500 meters, senior Jack Fredian posted a personal best of 3:56.07. In the 400 meter race, sophomore Jakob Kunzer placed third, with a time of 49.27, and sophomore William Seijas registered a personal best, with a time of 52.01 in the 400 meters.

Coming up next for the Wildcats are the Texas and Raleigh Relays. Most of the track and field athletes competing next week will be in the sprinting areas and the throws, while the men’s distance will be off next week. Both meets extend from Thursday through Saturday, and, much like this weekend, the warmer weather in Texas and Raleigh should allow for improvement in all results, especially looking forward to qualifying for Regionals, and eventually NCAAs.