Villanova women set college 4x800 record at Penn Relays

Villanova's Anne Yahiro competes in the college women's triple jump at the Relays.
Villanova's Anne Yahiro competes in the college women's triple jump at the Relays. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 29, 2013

Emily Lipari ignored the fatigue and heavy legs that resulted from running her third anchor leg in as many days for Villanova at the Penn Relays. She also ignored the fact that the Oregon runner she was chasing down the stretch is one of the top women in the country at 800 meters.

This wasn't about just pure skill but about guts and the ability to will oneself beyond the pain. Lipari did just that in the college women's 4x800-meter relay, overtaking the Ducks' Laura Roesler in the final 80 meters to lead the Wildcats to victory in collegiate record time at Franklin Field on Saturday.

Lipari, a junior who anchored the Cats' winning distance medley relay on Thursday, joined freshmen Kelsey Margey and Angel Piccirillo and junior Nicky Akande in posting a time of 8 minutes, 17.45 seconds, breaking the previous college record of 8:17.91 set in 2009 by Tennessee at Penn.

Lipari ran an anchor leg of 2:02.25 to defeat Roesler, who clocked 2:01.75 last week at Mount San Antonio College and 2:02.19 on Saturday.

"I know Oregon's a great team," Lipari said. "But I can't stand there wasting time thinking, 'This girl does this. She's potentially better than me.' It's all about guts, and it's all about heart. So whoever they're going to put on that leg doesn't matter. These three [teammates] definitely set the tone to our race."

The performance was even more remarkable given the fact that in addition to Lipari, Akande and Piccirillo had run a big race each of the two previous days.

"If you're one of the top girls on the team at the Penn Relays, you're going to be on all three relays," Wildcats coach Gina Procaccio said. "We never talk about it being a big deal. You get to that last day, and you've got to run a lot on emotion and heart because you have some tired legs. But if you put that out of your head, you can do it."

A crowd of 48,871 watched on an almost perfect day as collegiate and Olympic athletes dazzled with wonderful performances in the sunshine.

Texas A&M enjoyed one of the best sprinting and hurdling performances in the 119-year history of the carnival. The Aggies added wins in the men's and women's 4x200-meter relay and the men's 4x400 relay to finish the weekend with five Championship of America titles.

In addition, Texas A&M swept the individual sprints and hurdles, with Ameer Webb (100) and Wayne Davis II (110 hurdles) joining teammates Olivia Ekpone (women's 100) and Donique' Flemings (women's 100 hurdles).

Roesler shook off the disappointment in the 4x800 by running the third leg on Oregon's 4x400 team that set a carnival record time of 3:26.73. English Gardner, a graduate of Eastern High in South Jersey, ran the leadoff leg on the unit.

"This is my second home," said Gardner, a junior. "I definitely feel nothing but love here, especially when I'm going out and feeling nervous about what's going to happen and hearing people shouting my name, telling me to represent for my hometown. It definitely gives you a lot of motivation."

Penn State used another scintillating leg by senior Casimir Loxsom to win the men's 4x800, its second relay victory of the weekend. Loxsom, who led the Nittany Lions to victory in Friday's distance medley, burned off a 1:46.30 third leg to break the race open.

"I got the stick and I just wanted to run hard," he said. "We just set it up that we'd sort of take control of the race early on. That was the plan, to go from the gun."

Other Championship of America races saw Oregon capturing the 4-by-mile in 16:17.57 and the Kingston-based University of Technology thrilling the flag-waving Jamaicans in the crowd by winning the men's 4x100 in 38.92.


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @joejulesinq

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