PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/26/2019 – The Villanova women’s 1500 meter relay team would not be denied as they won the 4 x 1500 meter relay for the 13th time and the 4th consecutive race in this event. The Wildcats crossed the finish line in 17:39.26, the victory was by 11-plus seconds over Indiana.
Nova lost the Distance Medley Relay on Thursday. This was a different day and different race, and Nova returned to their winning ways. The team was comprised of freshman Lydia Olivere (4:26.6), Rachel McArthur (4:18.4) who ran the fastest split of anyone in the race, Caroline Alcorta (4:28.0), and Nicole Hutchinson (4:24.3) who had the second fastest split time.
“They ran great, and the advice I gave t hem was don’t try to be a hero, just put Nicole (Hutchinson) in the race,” said Villanova Coach Gina Procaccio. “I believed she was strong enough to handle it. It was great for Lydia (Olivere) as this was her first Penn Relays. Rachel’s (McArthur) job was to clean up and stretch it out. Caroline (Alcorta) was to play it safe and keep it solid for Nicole.”
They executed the plan.
The opening leg saw the entire five teams in a pack. Eventually, Indiana pulled out to a lead behind Katherine Recevuer with Villanova and Vanderbilt close behind. Olivere kept the Cats in contention in her first collegiate race at the Penn Relays.
“I was fortunate to come here in high school and experience the Penn Relays, but to experience it as a Villanova runner was a whole different ball game,” said Olivere, who went to Padua Academy in Wilmington. “I just had to put myself in it. It was a great experience.”
The baton was passed to Rachel McArthur. She moved out to the lead in the first lap. Then, in the third lap McArthur pulled away giving Nova a clear advantage. The lead would grow to as many as 30 meters. McArthur decided it was time to go in that lap.
“I think I was a little eager to hold back,” said McArthur about deciding when to make her move. “I moved a little sooner than I anticipated moving. I felt pretty good and controlled, so I moved when it felt right.”
Alcorta kept the lead secure for Villanova as the race became a contest for second place between Indiana and Vanderbilt.
Penn Relays veteran Nicole Hutchinson, who is on seven relay winning teams, anchored with a large lead and ran the last leg in strategic fashion.
“Just running conservatively and just in case something happened and someone caught up I had enough that I could just go and get away from anyone,” said Hutchinson. “But watching them (her teammates) run they way they did and give me such a big lead was so exciting for me. They did all the work and all I had to do was keep it where it was.”
Indiana finished second with a time of 17:50.70. Vanderbilt crossed the finish line in 17:54.86, and Wisconsin was fourth running the distance in 17:58.39. Penn State, the fifth team at the start did not finish.
This will be the last race of the carnival for the Villanova women’s distance relay teams as they will not compete in the 4 x 800. The team did put the DMR behind them, best said by Alcorta.
“Yesterday was disappointing, but we were not going to let that keep us down,” said Alcorta. “We were going to come back out.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian