Thursday, April 26, 2012

DMR Victory Sweet for Villanova Foursome

Villanova women win DMR at 118th Penn Relays
April 26, 2012, 7:52 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Villanova dominated down the stretch and showed it can still beat the elite at the Penn Relays.

The Wildcats turned back the clock in the women's distance medley relay and won the signature event Thursday in 11 minutes, 1.03 seconds.

Emily Lipari, Christie Verdier, Nicky Akande and Sheila Reid helped bring the title back to Villanova for the first time since 2006. Reid, the senior anchor, ran a fantastic final 400 meters, urged on by yells of "Go Nova!" down the backstretch.

"Our school puts a lot of emphasis on this," Reid said. "Once I had the baton in my hand, I wanted it to be strictly business."

Tennessee was second in 11:03.53, and Penn State third in 11:08.41.

The gloomy weather and threat of rain early didn't deter fans at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania's usually quiet campus, which hosted the famed track and field meet for the 118th time.

Most of the fans who came out to the ancient stadium were there to root on the Wildcats.

Reid became the fifth Villanova woman to have won an individual cross country national championship, at least one indoor national title and outdoor national title, as well as at least one Penn Relays title.

Reid was aware of the pressure entering the event to win the marquee race.

By the time she built a comfortable lead with 50 meters left, Reid broke out a wide smile that fans didn't need the videoboard to see.

"She was definitely feeling pressure to not leave Villanova without a Penn Relays victory," coach Gina Procaccio said. "But, in order for her to get that done, you need to have three studs in front of her putting her in the race."

Villanova took the lead at the bell that signaled the final 400-meter leg of the race.

Lipari ran 3:22.9, Verdier 52.8, Akande 2:04.5, and Reid 4:40.8.

Winning the DMR used to be routine for the Wildcats. They won from 1987-91 and three of four DMR's from 1994-97.

"It puts us in some good company with some really great women that came before us," Reid said.

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