Men and Women Have Success at Indoor Track and Field Big East Championships


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

The men’s track and field team finished with 98 points, good for second.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

Last week, Villanova men’s track and field head coach Marcus O’Sullivan said it was his goal to make it on the podium of the Big East Championships.

With 98 points at the Dr. Conrad Worrill Indoor Track and Field Center in Chicago in the two-day event on Friday and Saturday, the team accomplished just that, earning second-place at the meet. UConn would finish in first with 199.5 points.

“Second for us was, in our mind, a huge win because we were more on a comparable terms with some of the other teams,” O’Sullivan said.

The second-place finish was in doubt until the last event of the 4×400 meter relay, when DePaul placed second and ‘Nova placed third, securing its runner-up result.

Saturday, the second and final day of competition, was full of gold medal finishes by the men and women.

Graduate student Malik Cunningham claimed gold for the Wildcats in the triple jump, with a leap of 15.98 meters, blowing out the competition by more than a meter. This is the third straight indoor gold medal for Cunningham in this event.

“Get me on the board as a team, and then, do what you need to do,” O’Sullivan said about Cunningham’s duty. “I think he stretched himself as the competition unfolded.”

Graduate student Charlie O’Donovan won the mile event with a meet record time of 3:58.07, and junior Liam Murphy passed Providence’s Patrick Thygesen going into the final lap, to win the 3000-meter race in a time of 7:55.53.

“He’s a natural racer that way,” O’Sullivan said. “If you’ve got great leg turnover at the end of a race, you can let the race go whichever way you want.”

Senior Sean Dolan claimed his second straight 800-meter title with a time of 1:47.66.

“It was a good run, you know, nice and even pace, and ripped the end there,” Dolan said to the Big East Network. “So, I felt good. A little shaky in the prelims yesterday, but the whole goal is to come out with a win and get ten points for the team.”

In the last event of Friday night, the quartet of redshirt freshman Devon Comber, freshman Ronan O’Neil, graduate student Evan Addison and Murphy captured gold in the distance medley relay in 9:36.28.

The women’s track and field team performed well, placing fourth as a team in the championships with 89 points, but not well enough for the standard set by years of success. UConn would finish atop the women’s championship meet as well with 169 points.

“It’s been quite a few years since we’ve missed out on the top2, but that’s just kinda the nature of the sport, and you have to have those rebuilding years,” women’s track and field head coach Gina Procaccio said.

Despite the fourth place finish, there was still some success to be excited about this past weekend. Senior Madison Martinez claimed the 800-meter title for a gold medal with a time of 2:05.31.

“Coming around the turn, I was thinking stay strong, just finish all the way through, pump my arms and raise my knees,” Martinez said to the Big East Network after the race.

Another golden run turned out to be the best of her career for senior Jane Livingston, who won the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.52 seconds.

“Any race is the same, just go out there and compete,” Livingston said to the Big East Network. “That’s what you have to do to win, and that’s what you have to do to get better, so that’s what I do.”

Her coach cited the Villanova spirit in Livingston to grab the win.

“She was not expected to win that,” Procaccio said. “She just got determined and ran a great race.”

Livingston also produced a silver medal in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.40 seconds.

After the successful weekend, the men and women will now prepare for the NCAA Championships in two weeks on March 10 and 11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The qualifying times will not be set until Tuesday, and O’Sullivan will base his direction on what the times determine can be the strongest areas for the ‘Cats to excel in.

“It’s the best level, like completely the best level,” O’Sullivan said.

For the women’s team, Martinez is on the bubble for qualifying in the 800-meters and will have to wait until Tuesday to see results. If she does qualify, she will have a clean mindset heading to New Mexico.

“It would be her first time qualifying as an individual, so she has nothing to lose,” Procaccio said. “She can just go in there, fight, try to make it into that final.”

The rest of the women’s team will focus on resting as the indoor season closes out and they look ahead to the upcoming outdoor season.