Villanova women triumph again at Penn Relays

Emily Lipari (with baton) crosses the finish line first in the 4x1500 and is greeted by Villanova teammates Nicky Akande (rear), Angel Piccirillo, and Stephanie Schappert.
Emily Lipari (with baton) crosses the finish line first in the 4x1500 and is greeted by Villanova teammates Nicky Akande (rear), Angel Piccirillo, and Stephanie Schappert. (ED HILLE / Staff)
Posted: April 27, 2014

Angel Piccirillo knew the answer to the question.

She asked it anyway.

"Emily, how bad do you want it?" Piccirillo shouted to Emily Lipari as her Villanova teammate raced through the final lap of the 4x1500 Championship of America relay at Franklin Field.

Lipari has responded to that query in emphatic fashion through her illustrious career.

She wasn't about to change the answer Friday.

Summoning strength and speed for another sensational finishing kick, Lipari powered past Stanford anchor Aisling Cuffe in the final 50 meters and carried Villanova to victory in front of a roaring crowd of 38,135 at the Penn Relays.

In a virtual repeat of Thursday's anchor in the distance medley relay, Lipari outdueled her old high school rival with a surge in the homestretch after spending most of the leg sitting on Cuffe's shoulder.

Lipari's anchor leg of 4 minutes, 16.4 seconds brought home a team that included leadoff Stephanie Schappert (4:22.3), Piccirillo (4:17.4), and Nicky Akande (4:20.4), and secured Villanova's first victory in the event since 2000.

"This one was special because we hadn't won this race in 14 years," Villanova coach Gina Procaccio said. "We're kind of known for being middle-distance runners . . . so for us not to win this event for that many years kind of bothered me. The girls knew that."

Villanova's winning time was 17:16.52. Stanford was second in 17:16.74, with Cuffe running 4:16.6. Dartmouth took third in 17:20.87 as Abbey D'Agostino ran a remarkable anchor of 4:08.0.

"When you come here, you just get a lot of Villanova support," said Lipari, a senior from Greenvale, N.Y. "You hear people screaming in every corner for Villanova."

Lipari said she heard Piccirillo's question.

"Angel was shouting, 'How bad do you want it?' " Lipari said. "I thought, 'I want it pretty bad.' "

In other highlights of the second full day of action, Oregon rode a strong anchor leg by freshman Edward Cheserek to capture the men's distance medley relay in 9:25.40.

Cheserek, a native of Newark, N.J., ran a blazing final 200 meters to pull away from the field and hold off a late charge by Villanova's Jordy Williamsz, who produced a final leg to bring the Wildcats home in second.

"He kind of lit it up," Williamsz said.

Cheserek ran 3:57.98 on his 1600-meter leg. Williamsz ran 3:57.26 but needed to make up too much ground to catch the Oregon anchor as Villanova took second in 9:28.93.

"Sometimes, the race just works out that way," Williamsz said.

Texas A&M's women continued their dominance in the speed relays, winning the 4x100 title for the sixth year in a row with a time of 43.11 seconds.

The Aggies also ran the fastest heat ever as top qualifiers for Saturday's 4x200 championship. They blazed twice around the track in 1:30.61.


panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

www.inquirer.com/jerseysidesports

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