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by Jacob Pickle

The men’s and women’s track and field teams added to their early season success Friday with two solid performances in the University of Albany’s 12th Great Dane Classic at The New Balance Track & Field Center in New York, N.Y.  The meet featured plenty of highlights for both squads, including a handful of top-place finishes and personal bests.

The strongest performance of the night for the men’s team was provided by the distance medley relay team composed of freshman Ben Malone, redshirt freshman Josh Lampron, junior Bryan Murphy and graduate student Mike Palmisano. The squad put together a first-place time of nine minutes, 58.26 seconds, a convincing showing that was nearly a full two seconds faster than any of the other 11 teams in the field.

There were plenty of personal highlights on the day as well, one of which came with sophomore Aaron Sandifer recording a career-best time of 8.67 in the 60-meter hurdles. Senior Chris Dougherty also performed superbly throughout the meet in the pole vault, tying for third out of 22 athletes with a personal best height of 4.80 meters.

The women’s team registered an impressive six top-three finishes for the night to continue their indoor season success. The two most impressive performances came from sophomore Angel Piccirillo and senior Emily Lipari, who placed first in the 1000 meters and the mile events respectively.

Lipari and junior teammate Stephanie Schappert finished one-two in the mile with times of 4:43.92 and 4:44.60, more than eight seconds ahead of the third place finisher. Piccirillo also won the 1000-meter event convincingly with a time of 2:48.26, more than a second ahead of the runner-up. Lipari and Piccirillo were essential parts of the Wildcats 4×400-meter relay team as well, running with sophomore Michaela Wilkins and senior Nicky Akande well enough to place sixth out of 29 teams.

Akande and sophomore Kelsey Margey also put together a strong showing for Villanova in the 800-meter event, finishing second and third respectively. Junior sprinter Emerald Walden contributed the other top-three finish for the Wildcats with her third place finish in the 60-meter hurdles with a final time of 8.71.

Villanova maintained a balanced distribution of success throughout plenty of other events on the night, including freshman Veronica Scott finishing sixth and junior Varonica Johnson finishing fifth in the 500 meters. In the pole vault event, junior Kathleen McPhillips managed to tie for fifth place while sophomores Virginia LaMacchia and Abigail Nolte took seventh and tied for 11th place respectively. Overall, Villanova claimed 82.5 points on the night, which was good enough to earn the Wildcats second in team scoring for the meet.

Both teams have a well-deserved break until they are back in action next Friday, returning to the New York Armory for the NYC Team Challenge.

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