Tiernan headlines Big Easts with third individual title



Katie Ho Sang

Last Saturday, while students on the Main Line were preparing for Halloween festivities, the men and women Wildcats were in Ohio competing for the Big East Cross Country title. The course was quick and flat, resulting in a fast paced, exciting race. The women placed third, improving upon their fourth place finish last year, while the men’s team earned the runner-up spot. Both teams look forward to the chance to improve upon their finishes at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals in two weeks.

The men’s team battled for the conference title in one of the tightest races in Big East history. Cross country meets are scored by adding the places of each team’s top five finishers. The Georgetown Hoyas earned the top spot with 33 points, while the Wildcats closely followed with 34 points. This is the best score a runner -up team has ever achieved at the conference meet in Big East history. The third place team, Providence College, trailed with 68 points. 

Junior Patrick Tiernan won the race made Big East history by being the first individual to win three consecutive men’s conference crowns. The only other athlete to do so is the impressive Villanova alumnus Sheila Reid, who was named to the 2012 Canadian Summer Olympic team, and won NCAA national titles in the 2010 and 2011 Cross Country Championships during her days as a Wildcat. 

Tiernan also broke the meet record and his own school record over the 8,000 meter course with a time of 22:23.2. Most Villanovans would have trouble keeping up with one of his average mile times of 4:30. “I came in fitter than I’ve been before and with a stronger, more positive attitude towards the season,” Tiernan said. He seems to be peaking at the perfect time; his record setting time surpassed his previous 8,000m personal record by a whopping 37 seconds. 

The men’s team was also led by graduate student Rob Denault and senior Jordy Williamsz, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Their efforts earned them All-Big East honors. Harry Warnick and Robert Hurlbut completed the scoring lineup with 11th and 13th place finishes to help the Wildcats.

The men’s team won the conference title the last two years and will be looking to come out as the top Big East team at Regionals. Its runner-up finish is a reflection of the Big East’s cross country prowess and the team’s talent and determination, but will still serve as motivation for the team to repeat last year’s Regional first place finish and succeed at the NCAA national meet. The team is ranked seventh in the nation. 

The women’s team third place finish marks the Wildcats best finish since 2011. Providence captured the title with a 1-2-3 finish and a score of 26 points, while Georgetown earned the runner-up spot with 54 points. The Wildcats scored 86 points for a third place finish. 

Freshman Bella Burda shined at her first Big East Championship appearance as she led the team with a fourth place individual finish. Burda ran an exceptional race last weekend and proved that she can keep up with an elite class of experienced runners. She ran the 6,000 meter course in a time of 19:42.9 to earn herself All-Big East honors. Again, most Villanovans would have trouble keeping up with one of her mile splits of 5:19.8.

Sophomore Síofra Cléirigh Büttner also led the team with a ninth place finish and time of 20:06.6. Cléirigh Büttner earned Big East Honors with for the second consecutive year.Angel Piccirillo, Katie Fisher, and Ann Campbell scored team points by placing 21st, 25th and 28th, respectively. 

Overall, it was an excellent weekend for the team. Eight of the 10 lady Wildcats competing are in their first or second year of eligibility. Being such a young team, they are projected to continue to surpass their accomplishments each year. 

“The main goal is improvement, and right now I think that we are all gradually getting better as individuals and as a team,” Cléirigh Büttner said. “It’s all about peaking at the right time in the season, when it matters most.”

’Nova will strive to earn a ticket to nationals with a top two finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet. The competition is set fot Nov. 13 at West Windsor Field on the Princeton campus. Homecoming weekend will be an intense competition for the ‘Cats.