Men’s T&F Goes to Virginia, Widener


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Haftu Strintzos set a personal record in the 10,000, finishing in first place out of 31 competitors with a time of 28:34.41.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

It was an action-packed three days for the men’s track and field team as it spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Virginia, also sending athletes to Widener on Saturday for the final meets before the Penn Relays.

At the Virginia Challenge, junior Haftu Strintzos beat his personal best in the 10,000 meters by more than 16 seconds and finished first in the field of 31 competitors. His time of 28:34.41 ranks in the top 30 nationally. Strintzos was patient for the first half of the race and then pulled away in the second half. Strintzos now owns four of the 10 fastest 10k races ever by a Villanovan.

“He’s one of our best of all-time,” head coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “I think he’s going to go a lot faster, but we just needed a qualifying standard out of this. He literally led the second half of the race by himself.”

Senior Charlie O’Donovan and junior Sean Dolan each ran swiftly in the 1,500 meter race. O’Donovan and Dolan ran nearly identical times of 3:41.84 and 3:41.86, respectively. Freshman Sean Donoghue impressed in this race, lowering a PR he just set last week by nearly 2.5 seconds to a 3:42.45 in the 1,500 meter race.

O’Donovan and Dolan were not supposed to run in this meet because they were expected to hit their qualifying times for regionals last week at Princeton. However, that did not happen.

“We went down there with a very, very set agenda, and the agenda was just to come away with your qualifying standards because we don’t have any more opportunities,” O’Sullivan said.

The trio of O’Donovan, Dolan and Donoghue, along with Strintzos, have good enough times for Nationals.

For Donoghue, he dealt with injuries from late October to December, so he missed much of the winter training. The plan was to redshirt him for the indoor and outdoor seasons, but Donoghue was determined to race. In only his second race at Villanova, Donoghue impressed.

“He’s gonna make NCAA regionals, so I think that’s what his goal was,” O’Sullivan said.

Graduate Riley LaRiviere threw for 52.24 meters. Throwing is a fickle proposition because the thrower must have everything go right. LaRiviere had one of his throws hit the cage. There are many factors that affect it, including the timing of the spin and the trajectory of the throw, among other factors.

“You are trying to get a ball spinning at a high velocity through basically what amounts to be about an eighth of the circumference of the whole cage,” O’Sullivan said.

In the 400 meters, sophomore sprinter Jakob Kunzer and graduate Richie Bush registered season-best times of 49.23 and 49.56, respectively.

The next day, Kunzer and Bush each posted identical times of 22.25 in the 200 meters, giving Kunzar a new PR. When it was extended out to a thousandth of a second, Kunzar bested Bush with a time of 22.245 compared to 22.246.

The 400 meter hurdles saw sophomore Nicolas Mollica run in a time of 54.09, while junior Mac Costonis ran a personal best of 54.85, which is more than one second better than his old personal record.

“That was a good run in the 400 meter hurdles and a good improvement from him,” O’Sullivan said of Mollica.

Mollica is approaching the 53 second range, which will be helpful to get into the Big East competition.  

Senior triple jumper Malik Cunningham posted his best jump of the season and secured a spot in the postseason competition with a jump of 15.66 meters. He posted the mark on his second jump, which puts him in a tie for 27th nationally and a tie for 16th on this year’s East region qualifying list. 

“He looks like he has a lot more confidence in himself,” O’Sullivan said.

Cunningham is still working his way towards his top jump of 16.12 meters in February as the team gets closer to the postseason.

Junior middle distance Miller Anderson set a PR and won the 800 meter race in 1:50.21 at Widener to improve on a time of 1:51.38 he ran last week at Princeton.

“That is a big improvement for him, but not only that, but his workouts have been going better,” O’Sullivan said.

Next week, the men’s track and field team will compete in the world renowned Penn Relays in the first large national field since the pandemic began. The two marquee events the men’s track and field team will compete in are the 4×1 mile relay and the distance medley relay. The competition will be stiff with all the top programs from around the country competing, but this will help the team get better. In addition, the new director of the Penn Relays is Steve Dolan, who is Sean Dolan’s father.