April 23, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa.--This week at Franklin Field the Villanova women's track & field team will compete in the 120th Penn Relays, the world's oldest and largest track relay meet. The famed event is a defining part of the Wildcats incredible track & field history and Villanova has won more titles over the years than any other collegiate program.
Dating back to 1979 the Wildcats have won 32 women's titles at the Relays, including three in the past two years alone. Villanova is the defending champion in both the distance medley relay and the 4x800 meter relay. Last year the Wildcats memorably set an all-time collegiate record of 8:17.45 in winning the 4x800 relay.
For the second straight year head coach Gina Procaccio has the ability to enter Villanova in all three of the distance relays, with the 4x1500 meter relay also included along with the two races in which the Wildcats hope to defend their title.
Many of the same names and faces will be in the mix for the team's lineups in the relays. Senior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) anchored all three relays last year and was named the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Meet for the relay events. She also ran the leadoff leg of the DMR that Villanova won two years ago. Fellow senior Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) is also a veteran performer at the Penn Relays, while junior Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) and sophomores Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.), Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) and Michaela Wilkins (Ellicott City, Md.) all ran last year.
"There are five or six people in the mix for the relays this year and they all ran on at least one last year," Procaccio said. "I told them that they all won a leg last year; no matter what leg they ran all of them came in with the lead at some point."
In addition to the Championship of America relays the Wildcats will also compete in the preliminary heats of the 4x100 meter relay on Thursday afternoon.
The first day of action at the Relays will be a busy one for Villanova, which gets underway first thing on Thursday morning. Senior Samantha Yeats (Califon, N.J.) is competing in the College section of the high jump and will be looking to defend her title in that section from last year.
Also on Thursday morning the Wildcats will have four entries in the College section of the pole vault, including graduate student Bianca Reo (Parsippany, N.J.), junior Kathleen McPhillips (Carlisle, Pa.) and sophomores Virginia LaMacchia (Bloomsburg, Pa.) and Abigail Nolte (Branchburg, N.J.). Later in the day junior Alexandra Wasik (Medina, Ohio) - the school record holder in the pole vault - will be in action in the Championship section of the pole vault.
Competition on Thursday winds down for Villanova during the evening when redshirt freshman Caitlin Bungo (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and freshman Julie Williams (Wilmington, Del.) are scheduled to compete in the Championship section of the 3000 meters.
On Friday morning senior Victoria Profit (Nissequogue, N.Y.) and sophomore Anne Yahiro (Downers Grove, Ill.) will both be competing in the Eastern section of the triple jump. Later in the afternoon junior Emerald Walden (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) will run in the preliminary heats of the 100 meter hurdles and will be trying to advance to the final on Saturday afternoon.
Rounding out competition for the Wildcats is junior Jamie Klein (Hawthorne, N.J.) in the College section of the pole vault on Friday afternoon. Klein won the College section as a freshman in 2012 and registered a sixth place finish in the Championship section last season.