Oct. 26, 2012
Villanova head coach Gina Procaccio...
On Emily Lipari winning the individual conference title: That was a huge race for Emily and I could not be any more proud of her. Our student-athletes come to Villanova expecting to win and become champions. They learn from the great champions in front of them and know when it is their turn to step up.
On Lipari and Nicky Akande becoming the leaders of this Villanova team: Emily and Nicky have done everything right and I am so proud of the strides that they have made. They have stepped up to do their job and that is all that I can ask of them.
On a Villanova athlete winning the individual title for the sixth time in her coaching career: That is our tradition. We expect to be champions. This year we couldn't win the team title but we still had an individual champion for the fourth straight year. It is terrific to have another champion and to have our top two runners come in first and third. I couldn't ask for anything more.
BIG EAST Individual Champion Emily Lipari...
On the race: The race went out slow and that fits in with how we train. We train to close hard and for the entire race I was relaxed because I had my teammates around me. On the back part of the course me, Nicky and Summer surged up the hills.
On what it took down the stretch to win the individual title: I was about three seconds off the pace with 500 meters left but I just thought to myself that I hadn't run so far to finish in second place. I didn't think that I had the championship in hand until the moment I crossed the finish line.
On the feeling of being a BIG EAST individual champion: What makes cross country special is that you are running for your school and your teammates so every point is so important. We always hear about the history of champions at Villanova and it is a dream to be a part of that history.
On the legacy of Villanova champions: There is no way to realize the full extent of the hard work and sacrifices that it takes to become a champion until you are put in that position for the first time. I saw my freshman year what it took for our team to come together and win a national championship. That experience helps me in every race. When I put on the uniform I just want to bring pride to my team and my school."
On her mindset going into the race after a 16th place finish last year: I came in my freshman year and finished 11th in this race and then last year I only came in 16th. Sophomore year was a bit of a rough year for me but I went home over the summer and made the decision that I would give everything I can this season. In cross country you are racing for each other and for your teammates and every point is so important. I didn't want to be the one that messes it up so I was determined to fight for every point.
On running with classmate Nicky Akande, who finished in third place: That is such a great feeling. Nicky and I are best friends and we have been roommates for three years. There is something very special about running with your best friend and teammate on the course. On the back hills it was just me and Nicky fighting for it and there is an unspoken bond that we will push each other. If one of us is hurting we pick each other up. It is great to run beside Nicky. During her freshman year most people probably did not know about her but she has stepped up and done so much to help this team. I am really excited for her.
On where Villanova can go as a team moving forward: Today is a disappointing team finish. The season is not even close to being over yet. We can either hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves or we can pick ourselves up like champions and move forward from here. We have a talented group of girls and such a bright future because we are not graduating anyone. I think we can come together for the NCAA Regional meet and focus on that experience moving forward, not just this season but going into next year. We are going to come back strong next year. There are people who think that Villanova's run of success is done but we aren't even close to that. I want to congratulate Georgetown because they are a really tough team and they fought hard to win the championship. They deserved to win today.
On winning at the Van Cortlandt Park course: I love this course and it is an amazing feeling to win a championship in New York. Even though I am from [Greenvale, N.Y.] this was only the third time I ran this course. It was a great feeling to come here and win again.