Thursday, September 23, 2010

#14 Men Start Cross Season Today at Haverford -- Down Under Contingent to Lead the Pack

Sept. 21, 2010

VILLANOVA, Pa. - The first meet of the season is on tap for this coming Thursday for the Villanova men's cross country team, which is currently ranked No. 14 in the nation and No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the latest USTFCCCA national and regional polls. The squad will race in the Main Line Invitational hosted by Haverford College in a four-mile race on the Alumni Course just a short distance from the Villanova campus. The men's race will get underway starting at 5:30 p.m.

In their first competition of the season, the Wildcats will have their entire team in action, including four runners who ran in last year's NCAA Championships. Junior Mathew Mildenhall (Auckland, New Zealand) is a returning All-American, while seniors Hugo Beamish (Havelock North, New Zealand), Matthew Gibney (Albury, Australia) and Carl Mackenzie (Lower Hutt, New Zealand) all were a part of a Villanova team that finished the 2009 season on a particularly strong note.

Overall, the Wildcats return 15 runners from last year's squad. In addition, five redshirt freshmen will make their official Villanova debuts this fall and another nine incoming freshmen have also joined the roster.

Following several weeks of practice, the Main Line Invitational is the perfect first meet for the Wildcats.

"The race on Thursday is a chance for us to find out where we are as a team," head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "I have always liked the Haverford course because it is one loop that the guys will go around four times and that gives me a chance to see a lot of them and see what we have."

Given that Villanova finished strong last year and brings back a number of its top runners, expectations are high entering the start of competition for the current season.

"I feel like we have as good a team as last year, if not better," O'Sullivan said. "I will be looking to see how our experienced runners can use the success from last year to get started on a positive note and how the new guys are able to become a part of what we have. One of the things that will come out of this race is for us to choose the team that will run for us at Notre Dame next week."

Results from the Main Line Invitational will be available on on Thursday night.

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