Oct. 25, 2012
Following solid results at the Pre-NCAA Meet two weeks ago Villanova returns to action on Friday morning at the BIG EAST Championships, which are returning to Van Cortlandt Park in New York for this year for the first time since the 2008 season.
The women's race at Friday's conference meet goes off first and begins at 11 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held following the conclusion of the men's race, which begins at 11:50 a.m.
In the first two scored meets of the season the Wildcats have registered seventh place finishes at both the Paul Short Run and the Pre-NCAA Meet. The junior duo of Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) and Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) have led Villanova this season and both ran well two weeks ago. Lipari came in seventh individually at the Pre-NCAA Meet and Akande registered a 26th place finish.
Lipari, Akande and senior Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) all crossed the finish line in under 21 minutes in their last races, with Lipari and Cook producing career-best times for a 6,000 meter course. Sophomores in Megan Venables (Laurel Springs, N.J.), Stephanie Schappert (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Courtney Chapman (Fayetteville, N.Y.) have also been stalwarts in the Wildcats lineup over the past two seasons.
Last season Villanova won its fourth consecutive team title at the conference meet. Akande and Lipari both finished in the top 20 individually, with Akande earning All-BIG EAST honors for a 12th place finish. The championship for the Wildcats last season was the 14th in the program's history, a record for any conference team.
The strong finish for Villanova at the Pre-NCAA Meet bumped the Wildcats up two spots in the national rankings to their current position at No. 22 in the latest poll released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Villanova is one of five BIG EAST teams in the national top 30 and is joined by Georgetown (No. 9), Providence (No. 10), Notre Dame (No. 19) and Connecticut (No. 29).