PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/27/2013 – The Villanova Wildcats men’s 4 x Mile team is young and learning. The experience gained will help this team grow, and a third place finish in the 4 x Mile Championship of America race will be a great foundation on which to build. The Wildcats finished third with a time of 16:19.53 behind Oregon and Indiana. The Ducks of Oregon won the race turning in a time of 16:17.57, while the Indiana Hoosiers crossed the finish line less than a half second ahead of Villanova at 16:18.29.
“You just keep coming back,” said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “We’ve got the same team coming back next year and the year after. You keep trying, and something good will happen.”
The race was run in a pack throughout as none of the teams could break away. The pace caused each team to run a tactical race. Villanova was forced to the inside and ran from that position. It would come down to a sprint over the last 250 meters. Villanova junior anchor runner Sam McEntee seemed to be pinned on the inside, but found an opening and sprinted into contention. McEntee made his move, but Mac Fleet of Oregon and Andrew Bayer of Indiana also were coming down to the final sprint. Fleet crossed the line first running a 4:03.2 split. Bayer also posted a 4:03.2 time. McEntee ran a 4:03.8.
“I got put in there (the inside) and put me in a pocket and couldn’t get out,” McEntee explained. I was fighting to get out and knew I should have been more proactive than reactive.”
“I got to the outside, but Mac (Fleet) went first which was the right thing to do.”
“I knew it was going to come down to a sprint finish and Mac (McEntee) covered it well,” O’Sullivan said. “I knew what we were dealing with (other anchor runners Fleet and Bayer).”
The early runners tried to give their teams an advantage, but no one could break away. Alex Tully led off for Villanova posting a 4:11.14 time. The Wildcats were third when freshman Jordan Williamsz took the baton and got into the lead during his trip. Williamsz ran the fastest split of any competitor with a time of 3:58.7. While he did take a lead the pack stayed with him. Oregon second runner Matt Miner ran his split in 3:59.9. These two runners were the only ones of the top three finishers to run the distance in under 4 minutes.
“I got to the front and thought I could put a little ground between them, but they were able to hang with me,” said Williamsz. “We all ran what we were supposed to, but everyone else ran better than we expected. That’s the wrong way to go about it. You have to expect them (the other teams) to be on top of their game.”
Sophomore Rob Denault ran the third leg for the Blue and White in 4:04.6.
While Villanova experienced the disappointment in not winning the race, they are in the lane back to winning championships.
“You keep coming back and hope that is fosters in them the ambition to dig a little deeper next year in terms of mental preparation,” said O’Sullivan. It’s not something you switch around in one week, it’s all year. You leave them thinking next year we’ll be ready. If not, you go back to the drawing board and get ready again. We are under a lot of pressure, they feel it. They know the history behind them and feel obligated to repeat it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian