Cross country men repeat as Big East champions, Tiernan successfully defends individual title

Matt Bolton

The Big East Championship titles for cross country were given out over the weekend and one championship is headed back to Villanova. 

The men defended their title victory from last year and the women were able to finish with a strong fourth place in their race. The men for Villanova amazingly sent the first three runners across the line, a feat they never had achieved before as they went on to comfortably capture the Big East title. 

Sophomore Patrick Tiernan, who took his second consecutive individual title this year, led the trio. 

“It’s always great to win an individual title, but to be completely honest it wouldn’t have meant much to me if the team hadn’t have won overall,” Tiernan said. “I think the biggest performances of the day would have to have been from our next five runners: Sam, Jordy, Rob, Brian and Harry. These boys have really stepped up to the plate this year and are setting a great example for the rest of the team, including myself.”

The impressive times for the men begin with Tiernan’s winning time of 23:45. Noteworthy, is the fact that as a sophomore he has already become only the second ever repeat individual winner from Villanova along with Bobby Curtis who won in 2004 and 2007. 

His teammates senior Sam McEntee (23:51) and junior Jordy Williams (23:52) followed right behind. Junior Rob Denault (23:55) and Brian Basili (24:03) wrapped up the dominant scoring attack by the Wildcats. Villanova blew away the competition with a total score of 23. The next closest team, Georgetown, had a score of 51. 

Things are certainly trending upwards for the men’s team who will continue their season at Penn State for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on November 14.

“The team title is fantastic, and really represents how hard we have worked this year,” Tiernan said. “The other boys know that this is only the beginning of the job though, and that we need to look forward to our next race, which is regionals in a couple of weeks.”

Needing more than just one incredible performance, Villanova got five strong scores to secure a victory, as they also produced the sixth and 11th place finishers. Despite the fact only five runners can count towards a team’s score, Villanova’s first six runners to cross the line were awarded All-Big East honors. Awards were not limited to the racers as the coaching staff led by Head Coach Marcus O’Sullivan along with his assistants were named the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year as voted on by the other coaches in the league.

“I think the team’s dominance on the weekend was a very well deserved result for the coaching staff of Marcus O’Sullivan and Mark Carberry,” Tiernan said. “These two men have worked extremely hard this year to get us to where we are right now. They’ve also been very patient with us, which I think is a very important attribute to a successful coaching staff in this sport. Injuries can escalate if not taken care of properly, so it’s comforting to know that our well-being is their priority.”

The women fell just short of the podium as they raced in the Big East Championship meet. The star for Villanova was freshman Siofra Cleirigh Buttner whose 12th place finish was good enough for tops on the team and all-conference honors. The performance by Buttner was the best for a freshman since Emily Lipari’s 11th place finish in 2010. The five runners for the Wildcats who did score were all able to do so while finishing in the top 30 among the field.Senior Stephanie Shcappert’s 17th finish was second best on the team. Villanova’s third and fourth scorers finished back-to-back with sophomores Angel Piccirillo coming in twenty-first and Caitlin Bungo in 22nd. Freshman Nicole Armstrong concluded the scoring for Villanova with her finish in 30th. Fellow freshman Erin Jaskot while not putting a score forth for the Wildcats finished in 31st with an identical time as Armstorng (22:09).

Buttner’s impressive time (21:17) was 46 seconds behind Katrina Coogan of Georgetown the overall winner and top scorer of the champion Hoyas. The other times for the Villanova scorers were Schappert (21:34), Piccirillo (21:52), Bungo (21:58) and Armstrong with her previously mentioned time of 22:09.

Villanova’s 95 points were just shy of Butler’s 86 for third place in the Big East Championship. Georgetown dominated the other teams for a remarkably low 19-point total to get first and was followed by Providence whose 65 points were good enough for second place. The Villanova women, like the men, will resume their season in a week with the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet taking place at Penn State.