by Paul Regan
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams ran in the Friend Big Five Invitational meet last Friday.
This was an early start for the Wildcats and gave both teams a chance to tune up for the bulk of the schedule that approaches.
The men’s team comes into the season ranked No. 27 in the nation and No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic region in the pre-season poll of the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The top returning runners for the Wildcats include sophomores Rob Denault and Jordy Williamsz and junior Sam McEntee.
The women are ranked No. 12 in the nation and No. 3 in the region.
Their top runners this year are senior stars Emily Lipari and Nicky Akande, who was the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year.
The meet was held at Belmont Plateau and included a 6000-meter course for the men and a 4000-meter course for the women.
It was established last year by the Temple cross country team in remembrance of a teammate, Roswell Friend, who passed away two years ago.
The men had almost their entire roster participate in the race, contributing 14 runners to the field of 74.
Sophomore Jordy Williamsz placed first with a time of 18:50.95, and the two other Wildcat runners finished in the top 10.
Sophomore Rob Denault finished 4th with a time of 18:52.32, and fellow sophomore Patrick Tiernan came in at 18:56.46, good for ninth place.
Juniors Sam McEntee, Brian Basili and Dusty Solis finished in 15th, 18th and 20th place, respectively, giving Villanova six runners in the top 20. Their times were 19:09.18, 19:11.35 and 19:13.43, respectively.
The women’s team had six runners participate in a field of 63.
Redshirt freshman Caitlin Bungo was the first Wildcat to finish with a time of 14:46.31, good for eighth place overall.
Sophomore Leanne Tucker placed 12th with a time of 14:49.01.
Junior Megan Venebles finished at 14:53.29, 15th in the field.
This gave Villanova three runners in the top 20.
Junior Courtney Chapman came in 22nd place with a time of 15:03.00 and fellow junior Amanda Burroughs finished in 41st, completing the course in 16:01.02.
The Wildcats are back in action next week, on Sept. 26, when they will take part in the Main Line Invitational, hosted by Haverford College.