June 6, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. - With her trademark closing kick in perfect form in front of an enthusiastic crowd junior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) automatically qualified for the finals of the 1500 meters at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on Thursday afternoon. Lipari posted a time of 4:16.96 in the second of two semifinal heats and came in third in her heat to guarantee a spot in the finals on Saturday afternoon.
The top five finishers in each heat of the 1500 meters automatically moved on to the finals and Lipari moved into the top five of her heat with just 200 meters to go. She continued surging down the final straightaway, not only holding off a challenge from behind her but eventually taking over third place with just 25 meters left. Her time of 4:16.96 is the second fastest she has run in a Villanova shirt, trailing only the mark of 4:15.89 she put up in the national quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago.
Lipari was in ninth place at the start of the bell lap in her semifinal heat but by that point was already closing in on the runners in seventh and eighth place ahead of her. She made her move with 300 meters left and was unstoppable from that point on, moving steadily through the pack until she claimed her spot in the top five. The first heat in the 1500 meters had gone out only slightly faster than Lipari's heat but it was apparent by the final lap that the two "on-time" qualifiers for the finals would come from the first heat.
There was a margin of just 0.55 seconds between the top three finishers in Lipari's heat, with Stephanie Brown of Arkansas recording a winning time of 4:16.41, followed by Amanda Winslow of Florida State ahead of Lipari in 4:16.59. Rounding out the top five in the heat were Becca Friday of Oregon (4:17.46) and Rebecca Tracy of Notre Dame (4:17.70).
Lipari is seeded sixth out of the 12 qualifiers for the 1500 meters final on Saturday afternoon. The national championship race begins at 2:19 p.m. on the West Coast (5:19 p.m. Eastern time) and can be seen live on ESPNU, as well as with the WatchESPN app.
The automatic qualifiers for the finals from the first heat in the 1500 meters were Natalja Piliusina of Oklahoma State (4:14.39), Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State (4:14.61), Anne Kesselring of Oregon (4:14.74), Cory McGee of Florida (4:14.87) and Amanda Mergaert of Utah (4:14.89). The two runners to qualify on time for the finals were Linden Hall of Florida State (4:15.51) and Amanda Eccleston of Michigan (4:16.29).
NOTES: Lipari's two fastest times in the 1500 meters wearing a Wildcats uniform have come in her last two races ... Her overall personal best is 4:14.88 at the New Jersey International Invitational last summer ... This is the third time in the last four years that Villanova has an athlete in the finals of the 1500 meters at the NCAA Championships.