Nov. 11, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - One day after a strong performance at the regional championships the Villanova women's cross country team learned on Saturday that it had received a team berth to the NCAA Championships, which take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville next weekend. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Wildcats have earned a team bid to the 31-team NCAA field. Villanova was one of 13 teams chosen for as an at-large selection.
The berth in the NCAA Championships comes on the heels of strong performances by the Wildcats in their last two meets. Villanova came in fourth at the BIG EAST Championships on October 26 and more recently finished third in a close race at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday afternoon. Leading into the regional meet the Wildcats had been ranked second or third in the region in every poll this season, including holding down the No. 2 spot in the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region poll for the first month of the season.
Villanova has fire power at the top of its lineup with the junior duo of Nicky Akande (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.), who have combined for top-three finishes in each of their last two races. Akande captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region individual title by a nine-second margin on Friday and Lipari placed third in a reversal of their finishes at the BIG EAST meet two weeks earlier. Lipari was the BIG EAST individual champion and Akande finished third in that race.
Senior Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) has solidified herself in the Wildcats lineup this season and joined Akande and Lipari in earning both All-Mid Atlantic Region and All-BIG EAST accolades. All three runners were among the Villanova top-seven at the NCAA Championships last season.
The women's national championship race begins at Noon on Saturday and the Wildcats will be returning to E.P. Tom Sawyer Park, where they registered a seventh place finish at the Pre-NCAA Meet last month. The site was also host to the BIG EAST Championships last season.
Each of the top five teams in the BIG EAST received a berth to the NCAA Championships, including three automatic bids and two at-large selections. Connecticut, Georgetown and Providence all finished first or second at their respective regional championships to earn an automatic bid, while Villanova and Notre Dame were at-large picks.
This will be the 25th appearance at the NCAA Championships for the Wildcats, whose nine titles all-time are four more than any other women's program has. Over the years Villanova has crowned nine individual champions and also has the distinction of having won the most consecutive team titles with six in a row from 1989-1994.