PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/28/2017 – The team called on their inner strength and won the Women’s 4 x 1500 Championship at the Penn Relays. The toughness showed in the last 200 meters when anchor runner Siofra Cleirigh Buttner passed Stanford’s Elise Cranny and gave Villanova its second straight title in this event and the 11th overall. The Wildcats covered the distance in 17:25.85, a second and a half better than their west coast opponent.
“This is emotional to me,” said Procaccio. “You can’t beat toughness.”
The race was tight throughout with the Wildcats and Cardinal near or in the front of a pack of runners. Stanford had the lead after three legs leaving up to a duel between Buttner and Cranny, who had the fastest 1500-meter time this season. The runners matched each other stride by stride until the final back turn when Cleirigh Buttner made her move. She knew it was the time to go.
“For me, listening to my legs,” Cleirigh Buttner said about knowing when to make the move. “In the back straight I felt my stride open. I was hurting, but I thought once I made the move to keep going. It was a privilege to be out there and win another wheel.”
Buttner turned in a time of 4:11.03 while Cranny ran a time of 4:13.4.
Bella Burda ran the first leg for Villanova turning in a time of 4:33.8. Burda was among a group of runners at the hand off just a bit off the pack, but in contention.
“When the race was slow in the leadoff leg, I was concerned,” Procaccio said. “I was impressed how she stuck her nose in there and found a way.”
The baton was handed to Angel Piccirillo (4:17.9) who ran a 4:17.9. Procaccio describes her as dependable and showed it as Piccirillo moved up and took the lead.
Running third was Nicole Hutchinson (4:23.6). Stanford and Villanova took to the front of the pack and Hutchinson kept her team in proximity.
“When she got the baton it was a tough position for her to be in,” said Procaccio said. “She ran like such a pro, slowing the race down. I was impressed with that. She ran like a champ.”
However Christina Aragon led Hutchinson and passed the baton to Cranny in first place setting up the duel between her and Cleirigh Buttner.
With the win Piccirillo claimed her 8th collegiate championship to set a Penn Relays women’s collegiate record for number of wins.
“It’s an honor just to be on a relay here,” said Piccirillo, who is in her last Penn Relays meet. “It was one of the reasons I came to Villanova because I now how serious they take it. To come this far in my career and come out as one of the best ever is such an honor. I couldn’t be more proud to hold that record.”
In the event the University of Pennsylvania finished sixth with a time of 17:55.05 which sets a school record in the 4 x 1500. Running for Penn was Clarissa Whiting (4:33.7), Ashley Montgomery (4:20.0). Cleo Whiting (4:28.0), and Kylene Cochrane (4:33.5). Temple finished in seventh place crossing the finish line in 18:40.47.
Nova goes two for two in the distance relays.
Written By: Glenn Papazian