March 12, 2013
NEW ORLEANS--Following a second place finish in the distance medley relay at the NCAA Championships last weekend four Villanova athletes were named first team All-Americans by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday afternoon. The lineup in the DMR for the Wildcats included freshmen Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.) and Michaela Wilkins (Ellicott City, Md.) in addition to juniors Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.).
This is the third time in the last four years that Villanova has recorded an All-American finish in the DMR at the indoor national championships. Lipari earns All-America recognition in the DMR for the second time in her career and also received second team honors this season for a 14th place finish individually in the 3000 meters.
In a strong race all-around the Wildcats registered a time of 10:57.96 in their runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships last weekend. Piccirillo led off with a split of 3:23.77 for the first 1200 meters and Wilkins followed with a 54.25 split in the 400 meters. Akande ran the third leg and had a time of 2:06.43 over 800 meters, while Lipari closed the relay for Villanova with a 1600 meters split of 4:33.52.
Lipari was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year last week after leading the Wildcats to a third place finish at the BIG EAST Championships, where she repeated as champion in the 1000 meters and also helped Villanova defend its title in the 4x800 meter relay with a sensational anchor leg. Including both cross country and the indoor track & field season Lipari is now a five-time All-American during her collegiate career, in addition to being a six-time BIG EAST champion.
This marks the first career All-America honor for Akande, who has had another strong season as one of the leaders of the Wildcats middle distance unit. She ran the third leg of the champion 4x800 meter relay for Villanova and also anchored the DMR at the conference meet, while scoring additional team points for the Wildcats with a fourth place finish in the 800 meters. Akande has seven career top-eight finishes in BIG EAST meets.
Piccirillo and Wilkins are part of a talented freshman class for Villanova and the pair has made immediate contributions to the team this season. Piccirillo was the runner-up to Lipari in the 1000 meters at the BIG EAST Championships and also ran on both the 4x800 meter relay and the DMR at the conference meet. Wilkins was the BIG EAST runner-up in the 500 meters and also anchored the Wildcats entry in the 4x400 meter relay.
Villanova opens the outdoor track & field season on March 23 when it competes in the Philadelphia College Classic at Franklin Field.