Nov. 9, 2012
For the second time in as many races the combination of juniors Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) gave Villanova two of the top three individual finishers in a field made up of some of the best runners in the country. At the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on Friday afternoon Akande captured the individual region title and Lipari came in third to help lead the Wildcats to a third place team finish.
Villanova had three runners earn All-Mid Atlantic Region honors for placing in the top 25 individually. Akande and Lipari were joined by senior Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), who finished in 14th place. This is the third straight year that Lipari has been an all-region performer, while Akande earns the distinction for the second time.
Akande crossed the finish line of the 6,000 meter course in 20:14 and registered a convincing win by a margin of nine seconds over runner-up Meghan McGlinchey from La Salle, as well as the rest of the field of 215 runners. The time of 20:14 for Akande is a career best on a 6K cross country course by 12 seconds; she previously posted a mark of 20:26.1 at last year's BIG EAST meet.
Today's performance came on the heels of a BIG EAST Championships meet two weeks ago in which Lipari was the individual champion and Akande notched a third place finish. They switched spots in the NCAA regional but having both Akande and Lipari running at their best was once again a successful formula for the Wildcats when it came to scoring team points.
Penn State won the team title with 61 points and Georgetown finished in second place with 63 points. It took the strong kicks down the stretch by Akande and Lipari for Villanova to secure third place with 96 points, as Princeton (101) and West Virginia (111) were not far behind.
Early in the race the Wildcats pack went out strong and Villanova was in first place at the one-mile mark. When the runners came to the three-mile mark of the race Akande was in second and Lipari third, but Akande passed McGlinchey down the stretch on her way to claiming her first postseason individual title.
Rounding out the top seven of the Wildcats lineup were redshirt freshman Sydney Harris (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and sophomore Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.). Harris was making her season debut and stepped up with a 51st place finish, while Schappert was just one second behind her at the finish line to come in 52nd overall.