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NY Natives Set Meet Records at Big East

LIPARI, SOUTHERLAND SET MEET RECORDS TO CAP OFF BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW
YORK (22-Feb) — A pair of New York natives set meet records here on
the final day of competition at the Big East Conference Championships
at The New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory. Senior Emily
Lipari led a dominant performance by the Villanova distance squad with
her 2:43.69 victory in the 1000 meters, while Georgetown freshman
Sabrina Southerland clocked a fast 2:04.85 for 800 meters.

Racing
in her final indoor conference championship, Lipari toed the line
determined to claim victory. Not only was the 21-year-old seeking her
third straight 1000m title –and Villanova’s fifth consecutive win in
the discipline– she also wanted to make amends for Friday’s runner-up
finish in the distance medley relay.

In that relay, Lipari was
unable to catch Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan as the Hoyas went on to set
a meet and facility record of 10:55.63. Villanova placed an agonizing
second in 10:59.74.

Motivated by the team’s silver medal
finish, Lipari and her Wildcats teammates made a pact: Saturday was
going to be a new day, one filled with wins and hard fought efforts.

“We
don’t like to lose,” said Lipari with a chuckle. “A lot of us were
pretty bummed. We came out here today and said none of us are losing,
we’re really going for this. We were super pumped.”

In the
1000m, Lipari would go head to head with Coogan once again, a rematch
of the distance medley relay anchor legs. Just as she had 26 hours
earlier, Coogan burst out to the early lead with Lipari trailing
behind. Lap by lap, Coogan continued to push the pace, all the while
Lipari sat in the catbird seat, poised and ready to execute her
patented kick.

“For me, that’s the easiest way to run. It’s
what’s most natural for me, and if someone is going to take the race
out then I’m just going to go behind them,” she said. “There’s really
no point in fighting it.”

Rounding the final bend and
accelerating into lane three, Lipari surged by Coogan’s right shoulder
and crossed the line in a new meet record of 2:43.69. She had shaved
one-one hundredth of a second off Sheila Reid’s mark from 2011.

“It’s
kind of special to be able to do this in my last year,” Lipari said.
“I’m really excited looking forward to see what else will happen [this
season].”

Lipari wasn’t done, though. Later in the meet, she’d
return to help Villanova place first in perhaps the wildest 4x800m
relay in meet history.

Through two legs, both Georgetown and
Villanova were battling just like they had in the distance medley relay
a night prior. It was in the third leg that officials mis-counted laps,
bringing the anchor legs onto the track a lap too early.

Despite
the mistake, Lipari led Villanova across the line first, prevailing
over Georgetown anchor Andrea Keklak. Villanova wound up claiming the
overall team championship with 159.50 points, and Lipari earned the
Most Outstanding Track Athlete Award.

Hometown favorite Sabrina
Southerland of Georgetown set a meet record to win the women’s 800m
crown in 2:04.85. Only a freshman, Southerland led nearly the entire
way, spurred on by the cheers of friends, family, teammates, and Ray
James, her coach at Benjamin Cardozo High School in nearby Queens.

“I
was definitely feeling the love around the building. It feels so good
to be home and see everyone from back home,” said Southerland.

Though
Villanova’s Kelsey Margey and Nicky Akande made valiant efforts trying
to catch Southerland, the 18-year-old managed to hold on down the
stretch. Breaking Kathy Klump’s previous meet best of 2:05.47,
Southerland was overjoyed.

“I was just running for my team
cause I know the team needed points,” she said. “It’s honestly a
blessing and I couldn’t do it without everyone behind me.”

Re-writing the record books at The Armory was just the cherry on top.

“I could not imagine setting the record anywhere else. This is my home track so I’m happy I did it here,” she said.

Georgetown
also claimed the men’s 800m, as Ahmed Bile placed first in 1:50.85 over
Villanova’s Ben Malone. Bile is the son of Abdi Bile, the 1987 World
Champion over 1500m.

“I heard your cheering section out there,
I knew you were coming,” Bile told Malone moments after finishing. An
hour and a half later, Bile would return to the oval, leading
Georgetown to the 4x800m title.

While Georgetown may have swept
the 800m, the day still belonged to Villanova, as the school of 10,600
students earned a total of six wins in the distance disciplines on
Saturday.

Sophomore Angel Piccirillo claimed the women’s mile
in 5:01.87, leading wire to wire. After splitting halfway in a
pedestrian 2:47.2, Piccirillo fended off Georgetown’s Andrea Keklak
down the stretch — the same athlete whom she battled in the distance
medley relay 800m leg on Friday.

“Last night was a hard one for
me,” said Piccirillo. “We wanted to come back and really put a stamp on
today and I think we are doing that. Definitely [last night] was hard.
The cool down wasn’t a happy one, but after that we had to focus on
today.”

Jordy Williamsz and Josh Lampron gave Villanova’s men’s
team wins in the mile and 1000m, while Sam McEntee –third in the 5000m
on Friday– came back to win the 3000m ahead of teammate and 5000m
champion Patrick Tiernan.

Williamsz, a native of Australia,
sprinted away from the field in the final lap to win going away in
4:08.90. Moments after crossing the line, he pointed to the large
Villanova cheering section in the stands. The same section would scream
an “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” chant as the gold medal was draped
around Williamsz neck.

“It’s great when the boys get behind me
and give me some Aussie love,” said Williamsz, who credited coach Marcus
O’Sullivan for the teams success. “He’s the best coach ever.”

Lampron
and McEntee relied on kicks of their own to win the 1000m and 3000m in
2:22.66 and 8:10.52, respectively. They led Villanova to the men’s team
championship.

The women’s 3000m was won by Providence’s Laura
Nagel in 9:07.26, just ahead of teammate Emily Sisson (9:09.35). Butler
junior Mara Olson rounded out the top three in 9:12.76.

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