Women's Track Set For NCAA Championships
March 13, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa.--Villanova has four individual athletes and its distance medley relay team headed to this week's NCAA Championships, which take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Friday and Saturday nights. 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. The NCAA berths continue a terrific season for the Wildcats, who won the team title at the BIG EAST Championships for the 12th time overall and the second time in the last five years.
Lipari is ranked ninth in the nation in the Mile this season with a time of 4:35.24 that she registered in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games last month. That mark lowered Lipari's fastest previous time in the Mile by more than two seconds. At the BIG EAST Championships later in February, Lipari became the first athlete in league history to be a three-time winner of the 1000 meters at the conference meet. She also anchored the Wildcats to their fifth consecutive conference win in the 4x800 meter relay in addition to a second place finish in the distance medley relay. Lipari was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer of the Meet for the second straight year and became the first repeat winner of that award in 20 years.
Schappert qualified for the NCAA meet in the Mile after a sensational run at the Boston University Last Chance Meet two weeks ago. She set a personal best time of 4:36.40 and broke her previous top mark by more than three seconds. Schappert had established her old top time (4:39.45) earlier in the season at the Armory Collegiate Invitational and went on to earn All-BIG EAST honors in the Mile with a third place finish at the league championships.
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 athetes, along with Schappert, are making their first indiviudal appearance at the indoor NCAA Championships. Akande was a first team All-American last season as a member of the Villanova DMR squad.
At the BIG EAST meet both Akande and Schappert ran on the 4x800 relay, while Schappert also led off the distance medley relay. The Wildcats continued their national success in the DMR this year. 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.), junior Varonica Johnson (Charlotte, N.C.), Akande and Lipari. That time was lowered to 10:59.74 at the BIG EAST Championships by a squad that consisted of Schappert, sophomore Michaela Wilkins (Ellicott City, Md.), Piccirillo and Lipari. The Wildcats enter the NCAA Championships ranked fifth in the relay.
Over the years Villanova has produced 19 indoor national champions, including 12 individual titles and seven relay championships. The most recent national title for the Wildcats came in the distance medley relay in 2011. Lipari led off that relay as a freshman and was also a first team All-American in the DMR last season when she anchored Villanova to a second place finish.