Schappert leads women cross country, men place seventh

Matt Bolton

Cross country is over as the women  placed second in the ECAC Championship with senior Stephanie Schappert taking the individual title.

Conversely, men finished the season on a high note with a seventh place finish at Nationals. Both the men and women ended their seasons the weekend prior to Thanksgiving with the women competing in the ECAC Championship for their final race. 

Each team was able to end the season with strong team performances including some impressive individual performances by sophomore Patrick Tiernan and Schappert.

The seventh place finish for Villanova at the National Meet was their best result since coming in 6th in 2000. They were led by sophomore Patrick Tiernan who finished 18th overall with a time of 30:41.5. 

The men then sent a trio of runners across the finish line in succession. Senior Rob Denault placed 56th (31:10.0), senior Sam McEntee followed in 57th (31:10.8) and Jordy Williamsz rounded the pack of three coming in 58th (31:10.9). Senior Brian Basili concluded the scoring for Villanova coming in 86th (31:27.5).  

I was able to talk with Patrick Tiernan, only the ninth two-time All American in cross country Villanova has had about his thoughts on how the season went. Tiernan agreed with my thoughts that the season went really well when looking back on it as a whole. “Obviously we didn’t end it the way that we would have liked to at Nationals, but I think we are being very hard on ourselves if we come away disappointed with seventh in the nation,” Tiernan said. 

While everyone wants to win each race the reality of the situation is that it is an unrealistic expectation to do so. Seventh place was the best finish that the men’s team has had in over a decade, which is certainly something to be proud of.  

Tiernan mentioned the fact that he thought they were capable of winning the team title at Nationals. 

“Everybody had fairly good runs at nationals from an individual stand point, and I think that in order to achieve our ambitions of finishing on the podium we would have all required great runs, which we just didn’t have on the day,” Tiernan said. 

That’s a brutally honest and accurate assessment of the shortcoming at the National meet.  Despite nobody running a poor race, the team knew they had to be better.  

Unfortunately, when you face the best competition the nation has to offer you have to be at your best and the men were not.

While the Wildcats didn’t make the podium for Nationals that was uncommon for them this season as Tiernan reminded me. 

“We still came away from the season with the Big East title, the Mid-Atlantic regional title, and a large number of fantastic individual results, so I am very proud of the way the boys performed this season,” Tiernan said. 

The men were consistent all year and as a result they came away with many wins over the course of the season both on the team scale and individually.  

I was curious as to what the expectations for next year would be after the impressive season.  

“I think we can learn a lot from what we achieved this season, especially at the national level,” Tiernan said. “Last year we were not as well prepared come the national meet and didn’t perform too well. This year we came in with the right mindset and just didn’t have it on the day.”  

The one positive is that while the result at Nationals can be disappointing the experience is invaluable and the more these runners are challenged the better they will become.  

I was given one last insight by Tiernan who concluded, “I think next year, with a similar preparation throughout the season, we can be in the same position we found ourselves this year on that third Saturday in November, except this time we will have a lot more experience on the team and be prepared for every possible situation.” 

With that I was convinced that this team would only improve come next season because of the attitude by the runners like Patrick. I truly can’t wait to see how the team responds next season, a season full of goals.

The women won the ECAC Championship in their final race and the star of the meet was Schappert who bested the field of ninety-eight runners.  What a way to go out on top and end her career as a Wildcat. Schappert in first (17:42.4) led the scoring for Villanova and was followed by sophomore Angel Piccirillo who placed fourth (17:54.6). 

The rest of the scoring attack for Villanova included redshirt freshman Alexandra Russo in 15th (18:17.4), freshman Erin Jaskot in 19th (18:25.1) and sophomore Caitlin Bungo in 22nd (18:28:1).  

This race ended a women’s cross country season that showed promise all year with the amount of quality young runners the team has.