Anders Said It: Men’s Cross Country is Best Team on Campus


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Liam Murphy (above) won regionals with a time of 29:52.6.

Anders Pryor, Sports Columnist

The Villanova men’s cross country team has dominated all competition put before it in the past three weeks and have brought home another Big East title, a Mid-Atlantic regional championship and crowned a Mid-Atlantic individual champion. This kind of success is common for the team, and its continuous production of elite results is a credit to the culture and history of the program. Men’s cross country is the most dominant team on campus right now, and it may not be close. 

Liam Murphy is a redshirt sophomore from Millstone, New Jersey and has won just about every award you can think of, from Mid-Atlantic Regional honors in 2021, all Big East First Team in 2022 and winning Big East Male Athlete of the Week this past week. Now, he added Mid-Atlantic regional champion to his resume after finishing first last Friday. He covered the course in 29:52.6 and is just the seventh male athlete to win the region for the Wildcats. 

“Liam is very talented, and he put the work in this past summer,” head coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “Terrific performance by him, he’s grown and matured the last year.”

Murphy is obviously used to success. Two weeks ago, Villanova snagged its eight Big East title, and Murphy was a big part in leading the charge finishing third overall. He was one of five Wildcat runners to finish in the top 10, along with Haftu Strintzos (2nd), Charlie O’Donovan (5th), Jack Jennings (7th) and Josh Phillips (10th). That victory, combined with an excellent performance in regions, has made an excellent couple weeks for the team and has earned admiration from the coach.

“Terrific team effort by all of them and very exciting to see them do so well,” O’Sullivan said. “They are in terrific shape and they were patient throughout the race.”

In the excitement of the success of Villanova basketball, many forget that cross country is actually Villanova’s most decorated sport. Men’s cross country carries four NCAA National Championships to its name in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1970. It also has two NCAA National Individual champions in Victor Zwolak in 1963 and Patrick Tiernan in 2016. 

That historical level of achievement doesn’t even include women’s cross country, which boasts nine NCAA National Championships and six NCAA Individual Champions. 

Despite a gold medal-winning performance in his individual, Murphy did not reach qualification for competing in the individual championship for the Mid-Atlantic region in the NCAA championship. But his impact in the team-racing event should be critical for having success against the nation’s best programs. 

The automatic qualifying pool Villanova will be facing will consist of some of the nation’s most elite teams in Arkansas, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas among others, but the ‘Cats are ready for the challenge. 

No Villanova team has strung together consistent success quite like cross country. If it can make noise in the National Championship on Nov. 19, it should get the attention it deserves for the historical and current success. If the team can pull off an impressive finish in team competition, everyone on campus should rightfully celebrate. But let’s remember that this success is near constant for this team, and we should give it the respect it deserves regardless of how it finishes.