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Lipari cements legacy in indoor mile

By Frank Scicchitano
On March 19, 2014

  • Senior Emily Lipari is the third ’Nova women’s runner to win the mile event at the Indoor NCAA Championships.


Senior Emily Lipari accomplished something last Sunday that only two other women in Villanova history have done-win a national championship in the indoor mile at The NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships.

With a time of 4:38.82, Lipari joins Vicki Huber (1988) and two-time champion Carmen Douma (1998, 2000) as one of three women in program history to be crowned a national champion.

Lipari spent the entire race toward the back of the field of 10 finalists before making her push in the closing 600 meters to put herself in position to win the race. 

"In the final lap I saw that I had a chance," Lipari said. "I thought I may as well go for it or die trying."

Not surprised by the slow start, Lipari described the final lap in great detail. "I saw that the four runners in front of me were within reach and their heads were bobbing to the side," she said.  "My head was bobbing all over the place at that point too but I saw that I had a chance to go for it."

The gamble certainly paid off for the Greenvale, N.Y., native as she can now add this achievement to her already-impressive 2013-14 indoor track season, which includes a third consecutive Big East title in the 1000 meters and anchoring the conference's 4800 meter relay championship team.

Lipari credits her coach, Gina Procaccio, for providing her with the winning strategy. 

"[She] told me to put myself in position to have a chance with 600 meters left," she explained. "Gina has always told me that no matter the pace of the race, my final kick will always be there at the end."

This strategy, along with the "final kick," was enough to make Lipari the second national championship winner in Procaccio's coaching career at Villanova. 

The first came during Lipari's freshman season when she and her teammates were victorious in the distance medley relay.

Lipari said what she will remember most about the race was, "seeing my family after I finished the race. [My brother] came out to New Mexico to surprise me, and that meant so much to me.

"It was such an emotional moment not because of the win itself, but it was the journey that it took to reach it," Lipari further commented. "It is something that will keep me humbled because of what it took to get here."

After finishing third in her preliminary heat on Friday to earn an automatic spot in the finals, Lipari also ran the 1600 meter portion of the distance medley relay.

Senior Nicky Akande finished eighth in the 800 meter final with a time of 2:11.60, a personal best at the national level. 

Akande can add this eighth place finish to a list of accomplishments which also includes a third place finish in the event at the Big East Championships last month, where she earned all-conference honors.

Now a three-time All-American, Akande also participated in the distance medley relay on Friday night alongside Lipari and sophomores Angel Piccirillo and Michaela Wilkins. 

The team finished in ninth place, missing a spot in the top eight by only two seconds.

The men's team also had runners competing at the Albuquerque Convention Center this past weekend. 

Senior Samuel Ellison and sophomore Jordy Williamsz both grabbed top-eight finishes in the finals of their respective events on Saturday night.

Ellison finished a stellar indoor season with a sixth place finish in the 800 meters. Just two seconds off the winning pace, he crossed the finish line in 1:50.13, which was good enough to give him his highest individual standing at a national meet.  

Indoor and outdoor seasons combined, Ellison is now a six-time All-American. Last month, he was able to win the individual title in the 500 meters at the Big East Championships.

Williamsz represented Villanova well in the men's final of the mile when he finished with a time of 4:04.79, earning eighth place in the event. 

A Big East champion in the mile, the sophomore has a very bright future ahead of him after ranking third in the nation in the event for most of the regular season.

Freshman Patrick Tiernan also competed over the weekend, finishing seventh in the 5000 meter final with a time of 14:00.83.

Overall, it was a successful showing for both the men's and women's team as they leave behind the indoor season and look ahead to competing outdoors in the spring. 

The Wildcats figure to have excellent outdoor campaigns from seniors like Lipari and Ellison, and will surely be well-represented at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Division I Championships in June. 

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