PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/26/2013 – The Villanova Women’s Track team having won the Distance Medley Relay on Thursday went for the sweep of the distance relay races, but finished third behind rivals Michigan and Oregon with a time of 17:17.57. Neither the Michigan Wolverines or the Oregon Ducks completed in the Thursday event. That did not concern the Villanova who will compete in three championship races. The team who just wanted to run and to win.
“When you’re part of the team in which Villanova has so much history, that is what you expect,” said Lipari. “You have to do many different things, and be prepared for what ever is thrown at you. I want to be part of this team. If it means running in three or four races I will with my head high.””That race (DMR) was 24 hours ago, now this is our focus. We’re a tough bunch of girls and so is Michigan and Oregon.”
The race was close throughout as Michigan, Oregon, and Villanova all remained in contention. The winning time for Michigan was the 6th fastest time recorded in this event. Oregon finished second with a time of 17:16.50 which was the 8th fastest time. Villanova turned in a time of 17:17.57, the 9th fastest time. Freshman Stephanie Shappert, who did not compete in the DMR, ran the first leg for the Wildcats, and gave the team the lead after her split of 4:22.6. Shappert handed the baton to Junior Nicky Akande who kept the lead in a shoulder to shoulder race against Jillian Smith of Michigan and Annie Leblanc of Oregon. Akande ran a strong leg in 4:18.0 using her experience in staying ahead of the pack.
“It requires a lot of focus when you are in a pack like that,” Akande said. “You have to keep telling yourself this is for the team and I have to stay with them. You stay as focused as you can.”
Freshman Angel Piccirillo ran the third leg for the Wildcats recording a time of 4:19.1. Piccirillo stayed close tp the front despite getting passed by the Wolverines Rebecca Addison and Anne Kesselring of the Ducks. Michigan and Oregon traded the lead with Villanova falling slightly behind the leaders. The anchor runners would decide the race.
Junior Emily Lipari took the baton for Villanova chasing down Michigan anchor runner Amanda Eccleston and Becca Friday for Oregon. The runners kept their positions of Michigan, Oregon and Villanova for the first three laps. Lipari closed at the bell lap. She stayed in contact, but could not catch the leaders in the last 200 meters.
“My only goal was to catch up to them and worry about the finish later,” Lipari said. “At 250 (meters let to run) I just couldn’t give anymore. It is frustrating and I will replay that race in my head, but I will take from this race and apply it tomorrow.”
Lipari ran a 4:17.5 in her leg of the race which was the fastest of all anchor runners. Eccleston ran the distance in 4:19.6, and Friday turned in a time of 4:20.3.
The next race for the team is the 4 x 800 race on Saturday.
The Wildcats fielded a young team of two freshman and two juniors. The upperclassmen have built on their experience while the first year runners are learning what the Penn Relays mean to the program. Shappert enjoyed her first Penn Relays as a Villanova freshman, and will build upon what she has learned, especially the thrill of hearing the Villanova rooting section in the south stands.
“It’s amazing,” said Shappert. “I came around that turn and heard the ‘Nova’ chant going, it lights a fire under you. It’s over (this race). We will come out and run as many races as we can.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian