PHILADELPHIA, April 28, 2o11 – When Villanova prepared for the Penn Relays, one of the goals of the team was to win the Distance Medley Relay (DMR). They viewed the race as a national championship, the race they won at the NCAA Indoor Championships. However, a slow start and a dropped baton doomed the Wildcats as they finished in 13th place with a time if 11:26.49. Georgetown took home the championship beating Tennessee and Virginia covering the distance in 10:51.49.
“It was one of those days where everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.” said Villanova Coach Gina Procaccio about the disappointing result.
“I felt excited that we would come in and surprise a lot of people that didn’t see us coming,” Georgetown Coach Chris Miltenberg said about their upset victory.
Villanova had success in the DMR at the Penn Relays winning 10 of their 29 Championship of America titles in this event. Ten titles in the event are the most of any collegiate program.
At the start lead runner Freshman Emily Lipari in the 1200 meter leg got caught in the pack early. She dropped back to 10th place finishing her split in 3:27.18. Lipari passed the baton to Junior Christine Verdier for the 400 meter leg. Verdier was bumped at the beginning of the first turn causing her to drop the baton. This put Villanova hopelessly behind. Verdier finished her split in 67:43. Sophomore Ariann Neutts ran the 800 meter leg in 2:10.76 before passing the baton to All-American Sheila Reid for the 1600 meters. Reid passed one runner to give Villanova a 13th.
“Emily was seven seconds off the pace,” Procaccio said. “That pretty much out us out of the race, regardless of what happened with the baton. It would have been really tough to win seven seconds down at the lead-off. The dropped baton made it impossible.”
LSU started quickly in the opening leg, but Yale had the first leg lead. Renee Tomlin turned in a time of 3:19.81 for the Hoyas. Georgetown took the lead in the 400 meter leg as Amanda Chambers ran a 54:55 split. The Hoyas held the lead over Tennessee in the 800 meter leg with Chelsea Cox running a time of 2:05.58. Emily Infeld took the baton for the 1600 meter leg and pulled away for the win. Infeld ran the distance in 4:31.56.
“Being an underdog took the pressure off,” said Infeld. “Everyone did their job, and I wanted to do mine too.”
Tennessee finished second with a time of 10:56.20, and Virginia was third at 10:57.13.
Miltenberg realized how difficult the result was for Villanova, a team he respects greatly.
“I feel for them,” said Miltenberg. The reason we got better is because Villanova made us better. They’re phenomenal. I know they’ll be back.”
For Villanova, they will put their focus on the 4 x 1500 meter race, and will ‘wait ’til next year.’
“I’m thrilled that all four of them will be back next year, so we will have another shot,” said Procaccio.
Written By: Glenn Papazian