PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/25, 2013 – The Villanova Women’s Track team with a dominating performance won their twelfth Penn Relays Distance Medley Relay Championship of America finishing with a time of 10:58. 8 easily out distancing Kentucky and Columbia. The Wildcats defended their title in a race that according to Coach Gina Procaccio has great meaning on the Main Line.
“It’s always a thrill and there is always pressure and an expectation for us to win at Penn,” said Procaccio. “It means so much to Villanova. This is the relay that means the most. It’s the most prestigious, and anytime that you can put four different legs together and come out on top you’ll be thrilled. I’m thrilled we were able to keep the tradition alive and keep it going at the Penn Relays.”
To add to the special meaning of winning the title the team of Angel Piccirillo, Michela Wilkins, Nicky Akande, and Emily Lipari won the event in which the team finished second in the NCAA Indoor Championships. Originally, the NCAA title holder Michigan was to be in the race against Villanova, but opted to compete in other distance relay events at the Penn Relays. The Wildcats got their Penn Relay Championship watches presented to them by former Villanova great runners Vicky Huber and Michelle Bennett and Coach Marty Stern.”We were so fired up by that second place finish,” said Lipari. “We wanted to get out there and show that Villanova wasn’t done. We were the same team that was going to come out and do it on our home turf.”
The race started with freshman Piccirillo running 3:21.8 split in the 1200 meter leg of the race. Piccirillo was a Penn Relay winner as a high school runner. Now, she adds a team title to her Penn Relays experience. Villanova was either first or second in that leg of the race. Piccirillo was in the lead over Chelsea Oswald of Kentucky (3:22.0) when she passed the baton to fellow freshman Wilkins in the 400 meter leg of the medley. Wilkins, who turned in a time of 54.6, was passed at the start by Morganne Phillips of Kentucky who held the lead around the track turning in a time of 53.3. Junior Nicky Akande ran the 800 meter leg and took the lead back after 400 meters and lengthened it on the second trip around the track with a split of 2:04.7. Lipari, the junior anchor runner, finished the race with a time of 4:37.7 in the 1600 meter sector leading the pack by as many as 25 meters cruising to the finish line. Lipari and Akande competed in the race last year in a very close race that Lipari ran the opening leg. The team will come back next season and hopes to continue the winning ways for Villanova.
“We wanted to come and do it for Villanova, and we’re a super-young team,” Lipari said. “We;re old school Villanova, we’re just looking ahead. This is part of the past and it fuels our fire.”
Kentucky finished second, Columbia took third, and Princeton finished fourth.
“We were running with our hearts representing Villanova, which is much bigger than yourself,” Lipari said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian