PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/29/2016 – What a difference a day makes for the Villanova women’s team. The team started a new Penn Relays winning streak winning the Championship Wheel for the 4 x 1500 race. With four team bunched at the far turn anchor runner Siofra Cleirigh Buttner broke to the front of the pack and ran to the finish giving her team the victory in a time of 17:44.29.
“I did not have a doubt in my mind that we would get this done today,” said Buttner. “I watched every other girl give their all. I knew I was not going to give that up. The only thing going through my mind was winning, winning, winning.”
This team was made up of three freshman and a sophomore, Buttner who now has run in three Penn Relays championship teams, had the experience. Lead runner Bella Burda ran a 4:23.6 time giving the baton to Sammy Bockoven who covered the distance in 4:23.6.
“It means a lot,” said Bockover about winning a title as a freshman. “I knew going in I was going to focus on making sure Nicole was in the race.”
Villanova was in fourth place, but in contact. Now, in third place Nicole Hutchinson passed the baton to Buttner running a 4:27.0 leg.
“All I was thinking about was doing what I came to Villanova to do,” Hutchinson said. “We put people in position to make that kick and win it today.”
Buttner had a split of 4:24.3 finishing in front of Annie Leblanc of Oregon and Andrea Keklak of Georgetown. Oregon ran a time of 17:44.67 while DMR Champion Georgetown posted a 17:45.45 effort. Indiana finished fourth in 17:49.19.
Villanova Coach Gina Procaccio was not concerned about the experience of the team, nor the times they ran. It was all about the will to compete.
“I looked at who were the four toughest kids I have on my team,” said Procaccio. “We want to win at Penn. We have to put the toughest most competitive girls out there. I told the freshman to put Siofra in the race and she will get it done. She can out kick anyone. It was a nice that it went to plan.”
The young Wildcats got their first Penn Relay title. Something they came to Villanova to accomplish.
Procaccio summed it up in one word. “Wow!”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
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