PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/29/2017 – It wasn’t a sure thing that the Villanova women’s team would compete in the 4 x 800 relay. The team made it an easy decision for the coach, they wanted to compete. Nova ran and Nova won this event for the 13th time and 4 of the last 5 covering the distance in 8:24.87 beating Penn State and Stanford. The Wildcats captured the Championship Wheel in the Distance Medley Relay and the 4 x 1500 over the past two days, today the sweep.
“I told you that we were considering not running in the ‘4 by 8’, the heat, we won two races,” said Coach Gina Procaccio. “Angel (Piccirillo) texted me last night saying ‘we want to run.’ They’re just phenomenal. I was worried about how their legs were going to feel, but they had so much momentum going, and they don’t know anything else. I knew when they said they wanted to do it, I knew they could win.”
“Yesterday, it was great to win, but there was more,” Piccirillo said. “I cannot be more excited about how we all ran this weekend.”
Again, the race would come down to the last 200 meters like the 4 x 1500 the day before, and it was anchor runner Siofra Cleirigh Buttner taking over in the final back turn and sprinting to the finish. Cleirigh Buttner turned in a 2:04.10 split, the fastest of the anchor runners. She was named the College Athlete of the Meet.
“I said to myself that 220 mark has been so good, it just seemed the time to go,” said Cleirigh Butter. “I said wait, but I wanted to go so bad. I just go.”
Nicole Hutchinson (2:09.03) ran the lead. She passed the baton to Angel Piccirillo, who won her 9th collegiate championship at the Penn Relays. Piccirillo (2:03.62) made a move on the far turn grabbing the lead as she got the baton to third leg runner McKenna Keegan just in front of Stanford runner Malika Waschmann. That little bit of daylight made a huge difference for the Wildcats.
Keegan ran a 2:08.14 split. Although the Cardinal was in front, she gave the baton to Cleirigh Buttner in contention for the lead. That’s all she needed.
Villanova completes the sweep of the women’s distance relay race at the meet. The sixth time the Wildcats accomplished it. Piccirillo ran her final Penn Relays race, but the rest of the team will be back for more.
“This is the last Penn Relays race I will ever run, but the future is bright,” Piccrillo said. “I’m not worried about anything once I leave.”
Also in the final was the University of Pennsylvania who finished in 7th place. Maddie Villalba ran the lead turning in a 2:08.74 split. Mikayla Schneider ran second turning in a time of 2:05.68. Ella Wurth (2:07.68) ran third, and Nia Akins anchored running a time of 2:11.31.
Written By: Glenn Papazian