Jan. 27, 2014
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - A pair of Villanova student-athletes were honored on Monday night as the Philadelphia Sports Writers Associated held the 110th annual Sports Banquet at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, N.J. Women's cross country and track & field senior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) was presented with the Frank Dolson/Penn Relays Award and sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) from the football team was an honored guest for his success this past season. The annual banquet saluted the top sports performances of the past year and recognized more than 30 athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Lipari is the first Villanovan to win the Penn Relays Award in the eight years it has been presented. At the 2013 Penn Relays she was chosen as the Female Athlete of the Meet for the Relay events after anchoring the Wildcats to a pair of Championship of America titles. Villanova produced the type of performance that Penn Relays lore is made of when it won the 4x800 meter relay on the final day of the Relays last year. Lipari and teammates Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.), Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) and Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) set an all-time collegiate record of 8:17.45 and Lipari clinched the relay title by a margin of less than two-tenths of a second to lead the Wildcats to their second win in three days. Her split of 2:02.25 over the final 800 meters of the race would rank as the fourth fastest time in school history had it come in an individual race.
Earlier during the 119th annual Relays the Wildcats successfully defended their Championship of America title in the distance medley relay. Lipari, who ran the leadoff leg of the team's win in 2012, this time anchored Villanova to a winning margin of more than five seconds. She produced a split of 4:37.7 over the final 1600 meters and the Wildcats had a winning time of 10:58.84 in the race. Villanova has won 32 Championship of America titles all-time at the Penn Relays, including 12 in the distance medley relay and 10 in the 4x800 meter relay.
During her stellar Wildcats career Lipari is a seven-time All-American and a nine-time BIG EAST champion. In 2013 she was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in both indoor track and cross country. This past fall Lipari was the individual champion at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and went on to be a cross country All-American for the second straight year.
Robertson is coming off a stellar 2013 season in which he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, the top honor in FCS football. He was also a second team All-CAA Football selection after being named the league's Offensive Player of the Week four times during the season. In his two years running the Villanova offense Robertson has become one of the most dynamic players in the nation. In 11 games this season he ran for 1,405 yards and 20 touchdowns to establish himself as the top running quarterback in the country. He led all FCS quarterbacks in both rushing yards and touchdowns, while his 1,405 yards rank as the second-most for a single-season in school history. Robertson also joined Wildcats legend Brian Westbrook as the only players in school history to have back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. He averaged 127.7 rushing yards per game for the season, had seven games with at least 100 yards and two games with over 200 yards. Robertson ran for a career-high 256 yards and three touchdowns against New Hampshire, and then came back one week later versus Maine with 214 yards and four scores. He is the only Villanova player ever with consecutive 200-yard rushing efforts.
As a passer Robertson ranked second in the CAA in completion percentage and averaged 177.9 yards per game through the air. He went 169-of-247 for 1,957 yards with 13 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Robertson's passing skills were never more evident than in the season finale against Delaware, when he threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally Villanova from a 22-point deficit for a 35-34 victory. He was 11-of-13 for 146 yards in the fourth quarter of that game and finished the day with 252 passing yards and 417 yards of total offense. Robertson had back-to-back outings against Towson and New Hampshire in which he was a combined 32-of-35 passing, including 17 straight completions to begin the Towson game. In those two contests he also ran for a combined 406 yards. Robertson finished the season with 3,362 yards of total offense, which ranked second in the CAA and ninth in the country. His total is the third-highest in a season in school history.
Through the first 24 games of his collegiate career Robertson has put up lofty totals. He already holds a school record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,427 yards. That total is fourth overall in the Wildcats record book and Robertson's 34 career rushing touchdowns are second on the Villanova all-time list. Robertson now holds both the freshman (1,021) and sophomore season running records for the Wildcats. He also ranks fifth in school history in career total offense (6,349), is sixth in passing (3,922) and is eighth in scoring (204 points). He has two of the eight 200-yard rushing games in the Villanova record book and ranks third in the program annals with 10 career 100-yard rushing games.
Below is a list of the Traditional Award and Special Achievement Award winners from Monday night's banquet.
Philadelphia Pro Athlete - Danny Garcia
Light welterweight boxer; Undefeated light Welterweight Champion
Outstanding National Pro Athlete - LeSean McCoy
Philadelphia Eagles running back
Native Son - Bo Ryan
University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach
Living Legend - Bill Barber
Former Philadelphia Flyers forward
Athlete Good Guy - Jason Avant
Philadelphia Eagles receiver
Team of the Year - Boston Red Sox
Amateur Athlete - Rondell White
West Chester University running back
Lifetime Achievement Award - Bernard Hopkins
Middleweight boxer; multi champion/belt holder
Ed Snider Lifetime Distinguished Humanitarian - Jim Murray
Former Philadelphia Eagles general manager, founder of the Eagles Fly For Leukemia campaign, founder of first Ronald McDonald House
Penn Relays Frank Dolson Award - Emily Lipari
Army/Navy Game MVP - Keenan Reynolds
1973 & 1974 Stanley Cup Commemoration - Bernie Parent and Bob Clarke
Former Philadelphia Flyers goalie and former Philadelphia Flyers captain
Temple University and Naval Academy football coach, College Football Hall of Fame inductee
Tim Van Liew
Rutgers-Camden track & field - javelin
Drexel women's basketball coach
Philadelphia Flyers beat writer; Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
Eastern High School Field Hockey
14 straight New Jersey State Field Hockey championships and this year won New Jersey Tournament of Champions
2014 Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Honored Guests
Joe Conklin (comedian and radio personality)
Ryne Sandberg (Phillies manager)
Ruben Amaro, Jr. (Phillies General Manager)
Lou Guzzi (PGA Teacher of the Year)
Cody Asche (Phillies third baseman)
Dr. John Giannini (La Salle men's basketball coach)
Chris Albright (former Philadelphia Union defender)
Jerome Allen (Penn men's basketball coach)
Carolyn Gray (Philadelphia and Boston marathon runner)
Brandon Matthews (Temple golfer)
Michael Mills (Penn fencer)
Alfredo Santana (La Salle men's track runner)
John Robertson (Villanova football quarterback)
Mo Hawkins (Saint Joseph's women's soccer)
Ken Tribbet (Drexel men's soccer)
Kristen Blye (Philadelphia University women's basketball)
Marcelin Withler (Rowan football running back)