March 5, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The accepted entries for the NCAA Championships were announced on Tuesday night and Villanova has four individual athletes and its distance medley relay team headed to the national meet, which will take place in New Mexico later this month. Senior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) and junior Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) each will compete in the Mile at the NCAA meet, while senior Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and sophomore Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) are both qualifiers in the 800 meters.
Lipari is ranked sixth in the nation in the Mile this season with a time of 4:35.24 that she set in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games. That mark bettered Lipari's fastest previous time in the Mile by more than two seconds. At the BIG EAST Championships two weeks ago, Lipari became the first athlete in league history to be a three-time winner of the 1000 meters at the conference meet. She was also the first repeat winner in 20 years of the Most Outstanding Track Performer of the Meet award.
Schappert qualified for the NCAA meet in the Mile after a sensational run at the Boston University Last Chance Meet last weekend. She set a personal best of 4:36.40 and broke her previous top mark by more than three seconds. Schappert had established her old personal best earlier this season at the Armory Collegiate Invitational and went on to earn All-BIG EAST honors with a third place finish at the conference championships last month.
Margey and Akande are each advancing to the NCAA Championships as a result of their performances at the BIG EAST meet. In the finals of the 800 meters at the conference championships Margey came in second in 2:05.43 and Akande was on her heels in third with a time of 2:05.77. Those marks rank 14th and 16th, respectively, among the NCAA entries. Both athletes are making their first individual appearance at an NCAA Championship. Akande was a first team All-American last season as a member of the Villanova DMR squad.
During the current season the Wildcats have continued their national success in the distance medley relay. Villanova initially posted a time of 11:04.54 at the Penn State National in January with a lineup that included sophomore Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) and junior Varonica Johnson (Charlotte, N.C.) on the first two legs of the relay, ahead of Akande and Lipari on the final two legs.
At the BIG EAST Championships the Wildcats lowered their time for the season to 10:59.74 in a runner-up finish. Schappert, sophomore Michaela Wilkins (Ellicott City, Md.) and Piccirillo ran on that relay ahead of Lipari on the anchor leg. Villanova enters the NCAA Championships ranked fifth in the DMR.