Nov. 17, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - For the third time in the last four races junior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) was the top Villanova finisher and on Saturday afternoon she placed 25th overall out of 253 runners at the NCAA Championships at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. Led by the All-American performance from Lipari the Wildcats finished 20th in the team standings, beating their pre-race national ranking by two spots.
Lipari was the top runner for Villanova at the Pre-NCAA Meet on the same course last month and followed up that effort by capturing the BIG EAST individual title. She covered the 6,000 meter course in 20:05.6 in today's national championship race, lowering her time from the Pre-NCAA Meet by more than a full second.
Junior Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and senior Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) were the second and third finishers for the Wildcats and were separated by only five seconds at the finish line. Akande came in 95th overall with a time of 20:46.5 and Cook was 110th in 20:51.7.
The final two counting runners for Villanova were sophomore Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) in 173rd place (21:19.2) and redshirt freshman Sydney Harris (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in 209th place (21:34.1). Just one week after making her collegiate cross country debut Harris stepped up with another solid performance for the Wildcats and broke into the top five in the lineup.
Villanova made its fifth consecutive team appearance at the NCAA Championships and finished with a total of 475 points. Lipari scored 18 points as the 18th finisher from a team with a full lineup and was followed by Akande (68), Cook (82), Schappert (136) and Harris (171) in terms of points that counted towards the team total.
Oregon was the team champion with a score of 114 points, while Providence (183), Stanford (198) and Florida State (202) completed the top four teams that earned a spot on the awards podium. The individual champion was Betsy Saina of Iowa State, who crossed the finish line in 19:27.9 and won by seven-tenths of a second.
Villanova was one of five BIG EAST teams that made up the field of 31 teams. In addition to the runner-up team finish by the Providence the conference was also represented by Connecticut (8th), Georgetown (12th) and Notre Dame (15th).
Overall this marked the 25th all-time appearance at the NCAA Championships for the Wildcats, whose nine team titles all-time are four more than any other program has won.