PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/27/2019 – The Villanova men’s 4 x Mile team came in 6th and the Saint Joseph’s Hawks finished 8th in the race that turned out to be a thriller with Morgan McDonald of Wisconsin catching Ben Veatch of Indiana down the stretch to give the Badgers the Penn Relays Wheel.
Villanova had too much ground to make up. Anchor runner Casey Comber ran a race-best split of 4:07.5 to allow the Wildcats the move up from far back.
“When you get stuck out there in the wind, it’s hard,” said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “Wisconsin was going to be tough to beat, but what surprised me, although I knew they’s be in it, was Indiana.”
“We just didn’t get it together today.”
The race started with the runners in a pack. Eventually, Indiana, Virginia Tech, and Boston College went to the front. Villanova was back in the chase group. Nathan Rodriguez ran first for the Wildcats turning in a 4:11.7 effort. Saint Joseph’s was in fourth place as John Walker ran a 4:10.8 mile.
The race saw Indiana and Virginia Tech pulling away from the group leading by as many as 30 meters. As the third runners took the baton Indiana had a huge lead.
The second runner for the Hoosiers Kyle Mau ran a 4:06.2. Wildcats Andrew Marston ( 4:16.3) and Hawks runner Collin Crilly (4:12.3) found themselves in the back of the chase pack.
The third leg became a duel between Indiana, Wisconsin, and Georgetown. Logan Wetzel for Villanova (4:11.6) and Zachary Michon for Saint Joseph’s (4:10.2) tried to get the locals back into contention, but there was too much ground to make up. Oliver Hoard turned in a 4:03.3 split for Wisconsin, the best of the race, and Teddy Browning (4:10.7) kept the led for Indiana. Georgetown was right there behind a 4:05.5 time by Nicholas Wareham.
Casey Comber took the stick for Villanova, but the race was between Wisconsin, Indiana, and Georgetown. They chased each other around the blustery Franklin Field track deciding it at the end when McDonald (4:13.3) caught Veatch with a few strides left. Spencer Brown of Georgetown was third covering the distance in 4:13.4 Saint Joe’s anchor Will Sponaugle crossed the line in 4:10.2.
“If the energy is there in the race there is more incentive to stay with it, if not it is very hard,” O’Sullivan said. “If we had stayed with the main group it would have shored us up a little bit. The goal was to give Casey a chance. Once you start doing that, you’re out of gas.”
The winning time for Wisconsin was 16:39.82, just 4 tenths of a second ahead of Indiana. Georgetown had a time of 16:40.63. Villanova turned in a time of 16:47.10. Saint Joseph’s time was 16:51.23.
Villanova men did not earn a Wheel this year, but fought injuries and look to a brighter future.
“We have some good legs coming through for us next year,” said O’Sullivan. “Casey is back. Logan is back.”
“They belong here, but today we were struggling. Their attitude is good. Casey understands, he’s been here. They’re more into the Penn Relays than ever before.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian