|Aussies (R-L) Williamsz, McEntee, & Tiernan lead Villanova|
Here's a nice article about the new Pipeline from the folks at The Armory, reflecting on this past weekend's race at the Princeton Invitational:
The Pipeline From Oz
by Elliott Denman
Once upon a time, many a Villanova great traveled "the Irish Pipeline" to track and cross country stardom on the Wildcats' Main Line campus in the Philly 'burbs.
The long line of Irish running notables who rose to the sport's loftiest heights donned in Villanova blue and white included such celebrated men as John Joe Barry, Ron Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O'Sullivan, each, in turn, the best of their contemporary best.
Now, though, the Pipeline to 'Nova extends a whole lot further — half way round the globe, 11 and 13 time zones away, one hemisphere and across the planet's largest ocean distant.
It's "the Aussie Pipeline" nowadays at Villanova and O'Sullivan, who has been the Villanova coach for the past 16 years, is hopeful that his current "men of Oz" can start running to the glories of the earlier "men of Eire."
The Princeton University Cross Country Invitational — run Saturday over the Tigers' West Windsor course — served as an excellent venue to see this Aussie talent up close and personal.
|Melbourne's Jordy Williamsz|
How together were they? Together enough to claim identical 23:50 clockings.
With good buddy Robert Denault, out of Aurora, Colo., [correction -- Denault is from Aurora, Ontario, Canada -- VR] a mini-step behind them, sixth in 23:51 and then teammate Brian Basili, a Jersey guy out of Columbia High in Maplewood (the school best known as the alma mater of the Running Clarks — Joetta, J.J. and Hazel) 10th in 24:06, the Wildcat men clinched their winning low total of 23 points.
La Salle (led by 14th place Nico Grego), ran a distant second at 94; host Princeton (led by steeplechaser Eddie Owens in 11th) was third at 135; St. Joseph's (which put Aaron Leskow in seventh) took fourth at 158, and Mueller-powered Lehigh ran fifth with 183, in the 30-school field.
Admittedly, Villanova was one of the few "majors" running its top group — other teams either ran at distant invitationals or went with reserves — but the Wildcats' team dominance was impressive nonetheless.
|Perth's Sam McEntee leads Williamsz at NCAA Regionals|
"We're training hard: I wanted to have a race over a relatively flat course, where it could be nice and controlled," said the Wildcats' chief.
"They're a really good bunch of guys. I wanted the whole group to stay together, I didn't want them to be strung out. They stayed within themselves and were comfortable. At this stage in the season, that's important."
Next big one for the Wildcats: The Big East Championships Nov. 2 in Kenosha, Wis.
But "the most happy fella" in the men's race surely was Lehigh's Mueller. Right arm raised high, sporting a wide smile, he crossed the line in a run of delight.
He'd run a powerful sixth in 23:58 the talent-laden Paul Short Meet on his home Goodman Campus course two weeks ago and this one served as another big confidence-builder."Sure, I was excited," said Mueller. "My Paul Short race was awesome. That was real hot, but today was perfect, no wind, no sun, 60 degrees, on an even flatter course (than his own).
"I wanted to make sure the pace was fast from the beginning. It was 4:44 at the mile, two miles a little over 9:30, and 14:25, I think, at three miles, pretty much even splits. Then we really cranked it down the last 2K when the Villanova guys started to push the pace.
|Queenslander Patrick Tiernan|
"That last stretch, I kind of looked around and took it all in. It was a great feeling. Who knows? I may never win a race as big as this one again."
Mueller, a biotechnology major and Lehigh's Scholar Athlete of the Year Award winner, has one indoor season of eligibility remaining, but hopes to continue running for years to come. He calls his best track times — 14:19 for 5,000 meters; 29:54 for 10,000 — "modest" performances.
He knows that three of the top Villanovans have sub-4-minute mile credits, but knows there's room in this sport for him, too. Next time out for Mueller and Lehigh will be the Patriot League Championships at Lafayette, Nov. 2. And then he'll enjoy an ultimate home-course advantage at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals, Nov. 15 at the Goodman Campus course.
"Hopefully, I can qualify for Nationals (Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.)," he said.
"But now I know I can run with the front guys. Our Lehigh team workouts have been fantastic, but we've had a tough time racing. Two of our best guys have been out with jnjuries. Hopefully, they'll be back and if so, I know our Lehigh team will be due for a big one."