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Wildcats Finish Second in Distance Medley Relay on First Day at BIG EAST Championships
Nicky Akande ran a strong anchor leg in the distance medley relay and also qualified for the finals of the 800 meters at the BIG EAST Championships on Saturday afternoon.

Feb. 16, 2013

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GENEVA, Ohio - On the first day of the BIG EAST Championships on Saturday afternoon Villanova scored team points in the distance medley relay and the 5000 meters, while also recording at least one automatic qualifier in all five events in which the Wildcats ran in preliminary heats. Villanova scored points for a second place finish in the DMR and a fourth place finish in the 5000 meters.

The final event early Saturday evening was the DMR and it provided an incredible finish between three teams that were in contention for the conference title. When all was said and done those top three teams - Connecticut, the Wildcats and Notre Dame - were separated by just one-third of a second, with the Huskies and Villanova running a mere five-hundredths of a second apart.

Sophomore Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.), sophomore Qualitra Brown (Suffolk, Va.), freshman Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) and junior Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) wound up with a time of 11:07.04 to earn All-BIG EAST honors for their top-three finish. The time recorded by the Wildcats is the eighth-fastest in the country this year, although Villanova also remains the national leader in the DMR with the time of 10:56.74 it produced at the New York Armory earlier this month.

The final 600 meters of the anchor leg in tonight's race was an all-out sprint between Akande and Connecticut anchor Lindsay Crevoiserat, who did not have the lead in hand for good until the final 25 meters in the last straightaway. Crevoiserat, Akande and Notre Dame anchor Alexa Aragon were neck and neck for most of their 1600 meters leg.

Akande took the baton in second place and briefly held the lead during her first two laps around the track but no separation ever developed within that leading pack. The unofficial split for Akande was a flat 4:39 for the anchor leg.



Earlier in the race Schappert made a terrific kick in the final 200 meters of the opening leg and handed the baton off to Brown with the Wildcats in the lead. Brown maintained the lead until just before the handoff to Piccirillo for the 800 meters leg and by the time the 800 meters runners began their second lap the leading teams had settled in ahead of the rest of the pack.

In the 5000 meters race Cook scored a terrific result with her career-best time of 16:28.70 and eclipses her previous top time by 18 seconds. This is also the first time that Cook has been an individual scorer on the track for Villanova at the conference meet. She has previously scored points at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships and also competes on the Wildcats swimming & diving team.

Akande and freshman Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) are each automatic qualifiers for the finals of the 800 meters. Akande came in second in her preliminary heat with a time of 2:07.54, while Margey's time of 2:07.87 is a new career best and was good enough to win the last of three heats that were contested.

Villanova qualified three runners for the finals of the 1000 meters, including Piccirillo as well as senior Shannon Browne (Staten Island, N.Y.) and junior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.). Piccirillo came in second in her heat with a personal best mark of 2:50.89 and moved on to the finals automatically, while Browne advanced on time with a career best run of 2:51.01. She placed third in her heat, while Lipari won the final heat with a time of 2:55.15.

In the preliminaries of the 500 meters sophomore Faith Dismuke (Passaic, N.J.) is an automatic qualifier for the finals and freshman Michaela Wilkins (Ellicott City, Md.) advanced on time. Dismuke posted a personal best time of 1:14.31 to come in second in her heat and Wilkins placed third in her heat with a time of 1:14.23.

The other two qualifiers for the Wildcats came from sophomore sprinters Emerald Walden (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) and Varonica Johnson (Charlotte, N.C.) in the 60 meter hurdles and the 200 meters, respectively. Walden came in second in her preliminary heat with a time of 8.53, just two-hundredths of a second off her season and career best mark. Johnson registered a season best time in the 200 meters of 24.16 and ranked second in her heat to advance on time.

First on the track for Villanova on Sunday morning will be Piccirillo, Browne and Lipari in the 1000 meters at 11 a.m. The last event of the day is the 4x400 meter relay at 2:35 p.m. and the conference meet will officially conclude with the awards ceremony beginning at 3:15 p.m.


5000 Meters

Summer Cook                 16:28.70          4th of 19
Meghan Smith                17:41.79          16th
Megan Venables              17:55.05          18th

Distance Medley Relay

Villanova                   11:07.04          2nd of 13
Stephanie Schappert         1200 Meters
Qualitra Brown              400 Meters
Angel Piccirillo            800 Meters
Nicky Akande                1600 Meters

60 Meter Hurdles (Preliminaries)

Emerald Walden              8.53              2nd of 7           Heat 2 of 3

200 Meters (Preliminaries)

Varonica Johnson            24.16             2nd of 5           Heat 2 of 4

500 Meters (Preliminaries)

Michaela Wilkins            1:14.23           3rd of 6           Heat 3 of 3
Faith Dismuke               1:14.31           2nd of 6           Heat 1 of 3

800 Meters (Preliminaries)

Nicky Akande                2:07.54           2nd of 7           Heat 1 of 3
Kelsey Margey               2:07.87           1st of 6           Heat 3 of 3
Leanne Tucker               2:11.02           3rd of 6           Heat 2 of 3
Mary Bohi                   2:14.46           5th of 6           Heat 3 of 3

1000 Meters (Preliminaries)

Angel Piccirillo            2:50.89           2nd of 6           Heat 1 of 3
Shannon Browne              2:51.01           3rd of 6           Heat 2 of 3
Emily Lipari                2:55.15           1st of 7           Heat 3 of 3