Wildcats Sweep Distance Relays For The First Time Since 1997
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/26/2014 – The Villanova Wildcats completed a sweep of the three distance relays at the 2014 Penn Relays. A win in the 4 x 800 Championship of America went along with the Distance Medley Relay on Thursday and the 4 x 1500 on Friday. The last time the Wildcats last won these three races was in 1997. This group was the same team assembled by Coach Gina Procaccio in last year’s race, and successfully defended their title.
“I didn’t think lightning would strike twice,” said Procaccio. “I told them to channel last year. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain. This was about the big old Villanova heart. They obviously wanted it. They really deserved it. They competed they way Villanovan’s do at the Penn Relays.”
This race was different from the previous events in that this time Emily Lipari held off a late charge by Laura Roesler of Oregon over the last turn rather than coming from behind. Villanova had the lead throughout, but the race was in doubt as Roesler chased down Lipari and was poised to take the lead with 300 meters to go. Lipari showed her finishing kick by holding off Roesler, then began to stretch the lead slightly around the last turn. The Wildcat senior kept the lead down the straightaway, and crossed the line giving Villanova the victory. Lipari had a split time 2:03.50. Roesler posted a time of 2:01.86.
“I know that Laura (Roesler) is a very competitive person and that she was looking to do the same thing to me that I did to her last year,” said Lipari who out-kicked Roesler to win the 2013 Penn Relays 4 x 800. “I had to put a good lead on her, and I could feel her coming. I didn’t want to give her an opportunity to edge me out on he the line, so I took off with everything I had left in the tank with 200 meters to go.”
The Wildcats got off to a good start as lead runner Kelsey Margey going to the front turning in a time of 2:06.33. Margey did not run in the previous races, so she wanted to contribute to the team’s success this weekend.
“My teammates ran two or three races and I was fresh,” said Margey. “I wanted to do all that I could for us to win.”
The baton went to Angel Piccirillo who turned in a time of 2:06 flat that gave Villanova a sizeable lead. The third leg for the Wildcats was Nicky Akande who was able to hold off a late charge from Georgetown keeping the lead for the Wildcats. The baton was in the hands of Lipari who brought it home getting encouragement from Piccirillo from the infield.
The winning time for Villanova was 8:21.49 with Oregon posting 8:22.54. Georgetown took third place covering the distance in a time of 8:31.03. It was the eleventh time the Wildcats won this event.
Villanova got another race win. The team won three tough races in three days. The Wildcat women brought home three Penn Relays Championship Wheels. And they also brought a great sense of accomplishment back to the main line.
“It’s amazing,” said Procaccio. “It really is. All of the races were extremely competitive. We love to win. We love the Penn Relays. It’s contagious. We won a competitive DMR. A race we haven’t talked about was the 4 x 15oo because we hadn’t won it in years, so that was the one I wanted to make sure we won. We accomplished that. This is what we came here to do.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian