Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Plots and Sub-Plots for Villanova's Relays at Penn
Lipari Assumes Pressure-Packed Anchor Role

Penn Relays: Lipari inherits anchor duties from Reid for ’Nova

Emily Lipari
PHILADELPHIA — A year ago, Emily Lipari ran leadoff as Villanova won the Distance Medley Relay Championship of America at the Penn Relays.

This year, her role will be completely different when the Wildcats try to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1995. She’ll be the anchor leg, a role All-American Sheila Reid held for the last few years. Villanova coach Gina Procaccio feels Lipari is ready for the spotlight.

“Emily has had her success here as well,” Procaccio said. “She won in high school and she won as a leadoff leg last year so she definitely wants to step into that role and she knows all about the Villanova tradition. She was mad about finishing second at NCAAs and she definitely wants to redeem herself, get a chance again on that anchor leg to bring it home.”

The Wildcats will have to beat Michigan, which edged Villanova for the NCAA indoor title in March. They’ll have to do it with a freshman, Angel Piccirillo, in the leadoff spot. Piccirillo, though, is no ordinary rookie. Nor is she a stranger to the Penn Relays. The freshman from Homer Center led off the DMR that was second at the indoor championships and won the high school mile at Penn as a sophomore and junior.

Angel Piccirillo at NCAA Indoors
“I think that’s huge,” Procaccio said of Piccirillo’s experience at Penn. “The Penn Relays, if you’ve never run it, to stick a freshman out there on leadoff can be a bit daunting, but for her, she’s been here and she’s stepped in like a pro from Day One. She led off at the national meet and she brought the lead in right with the leader. She’s definitely not afraid. The experience she has is very positive.”

Lipari, Piccirillo and junior Nicky Akande, who ran the 800-meter portion of that winning DMR a year ago, expect to be quite busy this weekend. All three are expected to run in the 4 x 1,500-meter relay Friday and the 4 x 800 Saturday.

“I think we’re equally strong in all three, to be honest,” Procaccio said. “We were one of only two teams that broke 11 minutes indoors. We just lost the NCAA indoors by a second. The 4 x 15, we have four girls who have run 4:20, 4:21. The 4 x 800, we’ve had, in open runs, one run 2:05 and three run 2:06 so I think we can be strong in all three.”

Jordy Williamsz
As far as the men, don’t be surprised if the Wildcats compete in the DMR, 4 x mile and 4 x 800, something that rarely happens. Marcus O’Sullivan is bringing one of his deepest teams to Penn.

“I’m very optimistic this year in hoping to be able to run all three relays,” O’Sullivan said. “A lot of times we hedge our bets a little bit, but we know we’re going to have to shift the strength of it to the 4 x mile or the 4 x 800 based on what we have left from the DMR.”

Junior All-American Sam Ellison from Upper Dublin, Australians Sam McEntee and Jordy Williamsz, Chris Fitzsimons, Robert Denault, Alex Tully and Dusty Solis figure prominently in O’Sullivan’s plan to compete in all three relay events. McEntee and Denault are sub four-minute milers on the collegiate level and Williamsz is right there, too.

“We might need one tired leg to come back in the 4 x 8,” O’Sullivan said.

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