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Women’s track set a new collegiate record for the 4x800m. (Courtesy of Roy Ellison)

by John Maza

With a smile from cheek to cheek, junior Emily Lipari left the crowd in awe after her performance this past weekend at the 119th Penn Relays.

“It is just so great to wear Villanova across your chest and to do something that is so much bigger than yourself,” said Lipari to reporters at the conclusion of the meet.

Anchoring the 4×800-meter relay, Lipari put on a legendary performance that will cement her legacy next to the greatest runners in Villanova school history.

“I can’t believe it,” said Gina Procaccio, Villanova’s head coach,  to reporters. “This is the first 4×800 race I have entered in the Penn Relays as a head coach, and I just can’t stop smiling.”

It was a race to remember.

Trailing Oregon heading into the final leg, Lipari pushed herself to another level, kicking it into an even higher gear that many thought was not possible.

Splitting a 2:02:25 in the final 800 meters, Lipari ran down Oregon anchor Laura Roesler at the finish line for the win.

“We are all extremely happy and we are going to enjoy this one for a little bit,” said Lipari to the press after the race, “I wouldn’t trade any of these memories or experiences for anything.”

The Wildcats squeaked by Oregon, winning by less than two-tenths of a second.  However, Lipari could not have done it alone, without her teammates.

The team included freshmen Kelsey Margey and Angel Piccirillo, who also added personal best, junior Nicky Akande and Lipari.

Lipari’s time of 2:02:25 would rank as the fourth fastest 800 meters in school history, if it were run in an individual event.

“I love this event, we have been dominating it at our conference meet for the last few years and it is one of my favorite relays,” said Coach Procaccio to reporters after the race. “I just love it and we haven’t had a Penn Relays win in the 4×800-meter relay for about 15 years.”

With the win, Villanova broke the all-time collegiate and Penn Relays records in the 4×800 relay with a time of 8:17.91, set by Tennessee four years ago, not to mention wins in the DMR and the 4×800 relays for the seventh time in school history.

In addition to running the anchor legs in both relays, Lipari helped the Wildcats capture a third place finish in the 4×1500 meter relay.

Her performance was memorable, to say the least, but good enough to name her the Women’s Athlete of the Meet for the Relay Events, becoming the fifth athlete in school history to win the award; the first since Krestena Sullivan in 1997.

Performances like these all year long have bolstered the resume of Lipari, adding to her legacy, and making her arguably one of the best runners in the University’s history.

Women’s track and field dominated the meet, giving both the coaching staff and crowd a meet commemorating performance; however, the men were not to be forgotten.

Following Lipari’s heroic finish, the men put on yet another show, with the final leg of the 4xMile relay between Villanova, Oregon and Indiana.

In the end, Oregon won with a time of 16:77.57, Indiana finished second in 16:18.29, while the Wildcats placed third with a time of 16:17.57.

In addition, the men took second in the 4×800-meter relay behind strong performances of junior Sam Ellison and freshman Jordy Williamsz.

But on Saturday, as the Penn Relays Carnival came to an end, the day, meet and spotlight belong to the reigning athlete of the meet, Lipari.

This weekend, Villanova’s track and field teams will compete in the Big East Championships in Piscataway, N.J.

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