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Wildcats Run to Third Place Finish in 4x1500 Meter Relay
Nicky Akande ran a strong second leg of the 4x1500 meter relay on Friday afternoon.

April 26, 2013

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - On the second day of competition at the Penn Relays on Friday, April 26, the Villanova women's 4x1500 relay team gave a valiant effort, but came up just short as the Wildcats finished third with a time of 17:17.57. Michigan won the race in 17:15.47, while Oregon was second in 17:16.50.

All three times turned in by Michigan, Oregon and Villanova rank in the top 10 in Penn Relays history in the event. After Villanova, the next closest team was Penn State who finished 45 seconds behind the Wildcats in 18:02.32.

"When you are a part of the relay team in which Villanova has so much history, this is what you expect at the Penn Relays," said Villanova anchor Emily Lipari. "You have to do many different things, and be prepared for whatever is thrown at you. If it means running in three or four races I will do it with my head high. The DMR was 24 hours ago so our main focus today was the 4x1500. We ran as a team and gave it our best shot. We need to learn from this race and apply it to tomorrow."

Sophomore Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) led off for Villanova and ran an impressive leg for the Wildcats. Midway through the opening 1500, Schappert, Oregon's Megan Patrignelli and Michigan's Shannon Osika broke away from the pack and stayed close together until the final 200 meters. At that point, Schappert went by both Patrignelli and Osika to give the Wildcats a slim lead as she handed the baton to junior Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.). Schappert was clocked in 4:22.9.

The three team race continued on the second leg, as the Wildcats, Wolverines and Ducks separated themselves from the rest of the field. Akande turned in a strong performance for Villanova with a time of 4:18.0. Her effort gave the Wildcats a tie for the lead, as all three teams handed the baton simultaneously to their third runners.

"It requires a lot of focus to run in a pack like that," said Akande. "You have to keep telling yourself this is for the team and I have to do everything possible to stay with them. You stay as focused as you can."

Running third for the Wildcats was freshman Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) who was coming off an impressive performance on Thursday when she helped Villanova capture the DMR championship. Michigan, Oregon and Villanova ran stride for stride for the first 1300 meters before Wolverine senior Rebecca Addison opened up a 20 meter lead for Michigan heading into the anchor leg. Piccirillo and Anne Kesselring of Oregon were both timed in 4:19.1.

Wildcat anchor Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) made a spirited charge, but she was unable to overtake Michigan's Amanda Eccleston. Lipari closed to within a stride with 600 meters remaining to give her team a chance coming down the stretch. Lipari's effort came up just short, as Eccleston managed to hold off Lipari and Becca Friday of Oregon down the stretch. Lipari's time of 4:17.5 was faster than both Eccleston (4:19.6) and Friday (4:20.3).

In addition to the 4x1500 meter relay Villanova also competed in the triple jump and the 100 meter hurdles on Friday. Freshman Anne Yahiro (Downers Grove, Ill.) competed in the Eastern section of the triple jump and recorded a mark of 11.64 meters to come in ninth out of 28 competitors. Sophomore sprinter Emerald Walden (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) finished eighth in her preliminary heat of the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.31.