Aug 28, 2013
NEW ORLEANS--Returning stars Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) and Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) each begin their senior seasons and will lead a Villanova team that expects to have plenty of depth during the 2013 season. In preseason polls unveiled by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this week the Wildcats are ranked No. 12 in the nation and No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Villanova has earned a team berth to the NCAA Championships in each of the past five seasons. The duo of Lipari and Akande led the team during the 2012 campaign, while four other consistent performers from last year also return. The junior trio of Courtney Chapman (Fayetteville, N.Y.), Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Megan Venables (Laurel Springs, N.J.), along with sophomore Kelsey Margey (Huntington, N.Y.) all have significant experience and made contributions in 2012.
Four teams from the highly competitive BIG EAST Conference are ranked in the national top 30 to begin the season, including the Wildcats as well as Providence (No. 1), Georgetown (No. 6) and Butler (No. 30). All four teams sent a full squad to the national meet last season. In the Mid-Atlantic Region rankings Villanova came in at third in the preseason poll, with Penn State and Georgetown holding the top two spots.
The 2013 season gets underway when the Wildcats compete in the Big Five Invitational on September 13 in Philadelphia. Another local meet follows two weeks later when the team runs in the Main Line Invitational at Haverford on September 26. Villanova stays local for the Paul Short Run at Lehigh on October 5 and will then travel to the Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. on October 19. This is the second straight year that the Wildcats will compete at the Pre-NCAA Meet, which is the final meet for the team before the start of the postseason.
In the first year of the newly configured BIG EAST Conference the conference championships will be held at the Wayne E. Dannehl Course in Somers, Wis. on November 2. The site previously hosted the BIG EAST meet in 2009. Villanova will also return to the Lehigh campus - site of the Paul Short Run - for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on November 15.