Oct. 29, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Led by the one-two punch of seniors Sheila Reid (Newmarket, Ont.) and Bogdana Mimic (Pancevo, Serbia) the Villanova women's cross country team captured its fourth consecutive BIG EAST title at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park on Saturday morning. This is the record 14th conference championship for the Wildcats and the fourth for head coach Gina Procaccio.
Reid garnered her third straight individual crown with a winning time of 19:40.09 on the 6,000 meter course and was followed by Mimic, sophomores Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) and senior Callie Hogan (Bay Shore, N.Y.) to round out the top five.
"It took a complete team effort for us to win today and that is exactly what happened," Procaccio said. "Everyone had to set up for us and I am so proud of our runners for getting their job done. It was a great team effort and that is what makes this championship so fulfilling for us."
Reid had a sizable lead over the rest of the field with 1000 meters left and surged to a margin of victory of more than 10 seconds. Mimic passed the top runners from West Virginia and Providence in the final 100 meters of the race and crossed the finish line with a time of 19:51.2.
Villanova won with a team score of 54 points and came in ahead of Providence (63), Georgetown (77), Syracuse (92) and West Virginia (92) atop the team standings.
Akande finished in 12th place for the Wildcats with a time of 20:26.1 and was followed by Lipari in 16th place (20:36.4) and Hogan in 23rd place (20:54.5). As strong as Villanova is at the top of its lineup with Reid and Mimic, the performances of the rest of its top five were just as important in the Wildcats victory.
Each of the top five runners for Villanova were in front of the fifth runners from the Friars and Hoyas with 800 meters left and those positions remained unchanged down the home stretch as the Wildcats clinched the title.
The top three runners for Villanova each earned All-BIG EAST honors for finishing in the top 15 individually.
Rounding out the lineup for the Wildcats was junior Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) in 38th place (21:21.0) and the freshmen trio of Courtney Chapman (Fayetteville, N.Y.), Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Megan Venables (Laurel Springs, N.J.).
Chapman crossed the finish line with a time of 21:38.8 and was in 44th place, while Schappert finished 54th (22:01.2) and Venables came in 73rd (22:34.1).
Entering the conference meet Villanova was ranked No. 4 in the nation and was atop the Mid-Atlantic Region rankings. Georgetown, Providence and Syracuse were also ranked in the nation's top-10, while West Virginia, Notre Dame and Connecticut are also nationally-ranked in the top-30.
"We point to this meet in training and the team was ready to get the job done today," Procaccio said. "Winning a conference championship gives us great momentum moving forward into the next three weeks."
The NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional is next up for the Wildcats and takes place on Saturday, November 12 on the UMES Cross Country Course in Princess Anne, Md.