Outdoor Track Season Commences at the Penn Challenge

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

After the Indoor Track and Field NCAA Championships, head coach Marcus O’Sullivan set goals that the team desires to accomplish. 

“The goals now are, obviously for us, are Penn Relays in April, and qualifying for Nationals,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re hosting the Big East at home at Villanova, so that’s going to be a highlight for us.” 

All of these goals must have a starting point, and that first step began with the kickoff of the outdoor season at the Penn Challenge at Franklin Field. 

A total of 10 Villanova athletes competed in six different events last Saturday, which included two third-place finishes. 

“I thought we had a solid showing,” associate head coach Anthony Williams said. “Guys competed well. They pretty [much] picked up right where they left off from the Big East Championships.” 

Junior Jakob Kunzer was one of the two third-place finishers in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 49.32. 

Kunzer also helped the 4-by-400 meter relay team to achieve a third-place finish as the second leg at the Indoor Big East Championships last month and a fifth-place finish in last year’s Outdoor Big East Championships as the anchor.  

In the same 400-meter dash, freshman Ronan O’Neill came in sixth, posting a time of 49.92. Other results from the 400-meter dash for the Villanova contingent included freshman Luke Rakowitz with a time of 50.54, and junior William Seijas who recorded a time of 51.82.  

The other third-place finisher was Nicholas Mollica in the 400-meter hurdles, with a time posted of 54.20. Junior Mac Costonis ran a 55.38 for fifth place. 

Mollica is looking to claim one spot better in the Big East Championship this year, as he placed second in last year’s contest in the 400-meter hurdle final when he posted a time of 52.40. 

Mollica was also a part of the 4-by-400-meter relay team that placed fifth in the Indoor Big East Championships last month as the first leg. 

“He just has to make that step-in practices every day,” Williams said of Mollica’s ability to win the 400-meter hurdle Big East Championship race this year. “He just has to find ways to take his game to that next level over the next few weeks.” 

With the dawn of the outdoor season, the throwing events are now in full swing. Sophomore Tristan Bolinsky threw for distances of 46.83 meters in the discus and 52.22 meters in the hammer.  

Bolinsky is looking to reach greater heights this season, as he won the Outdoor Big East Championships as a true freshman in the discus with a throw of 49.07 meters and placed seventh in the hammer with a heave of 52.31 meters.  

“Their goal is just to try to provide some solid support for the rest of the team,” Williams said. 

Freshman Liam Anderson competed in the shot put and the discus, throwing the shot put 12.98 meters and 34.78 meters in the discus.  

The long jump featured two freshmen: Daelyn Nwaobasi and Sanjay Persaud. Nwaobasi jumped to a mark of 6.49 meters and Persaud recorded a result of 5.70 meters. This was a personal best for Nwaobasi, who finished sixth in the event and Persaud finished twelfth in his debut for the event.  

“I think they kind of threw off their freshmen mantle last fall the way they got after it in terms of their practice, their being responsible and just holding themselves accountable,” Williams said of the freshmen competing at the Penn Challenge. “The experience is good for them.” 

Next up for the Wildcats are the Raleigh Relays next Friday and Saturday at the Paul Derr Track and Field Facility. 

This meet will feature the men’s long-distance runners with the middle-distance and sprints working in practice during the week and not traveling. 

“Next week’s kinda of a mixed bag because…we’re…taking a bunch of 10k runners, and most of the other kids won’t compete,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a week to get some practices in.”