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Villanova women win their third Penn Relays race on Saturday

Add the 4x800 title to those in the distance medley and 4x1,500.

So really, was there ever any doubt?

Well, as a matter of fact . . .

On Friday night, Villanova coach Gina Procaccio was considering not running in Saturday afternoon's 4x800-meter Championship of America race at the Penn Relays even though her Wildcats had already won the distance medley and 4x1,500.

Then she got a text from senior Angel Piccirillo, who had already set a women's record by running on eight victorious relay teams at the carnival. Eventually, Procaccio became convinced.

"I told them that they could sleep on it, that it was their decision," she explained. "They wanted to run. I'm like, 'All right.' As a coach, you wonder how their legs are going to feel on the third day. But there was just so much adrenaline and momentum going it's almost like they don't know anything else. I know it's because they felt they could win.

"I thought about myself as an athlete. Who am I kidding? Of course they want to go out there and run. That's what you do here. I remember talking to Sonia O'Sullivan one year. I asked if she ever cared that she might have to run three days. She was like, 'No. I loved it.' So . . . "

The Wildcats ran. And they won. For the fourth time in five years and record 13th time overall. That means they got a triple for the sixth time and first since 2014.

Sophomore Nicole Hutchinson (opening leg of 2 minutes, 9.3 seconds), Piccirillo (2:03.62), freshman McKenna Keegan (2:08.14), and junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (2:04.10) ran a time of 8:24.87. Penn State, at 8:25.49, was second, followed by Stanford at 8:26.89.

Buttner, whose family traveled from Dublin to be at Franklin Field, was named the meet's outstanding college women's athlete. ("A bonus," she called it.) She also anchored the 4x1,500, when she outkicked Stanford's Elise Cranny in the closing 350 meters. This time, she made her move at the 220 mark and flew right past the leader, Stanford's Olivia Baker, whom she had never beaten.

"We came into this week prepared to run three," Buttner said. "When you have two, you have nothing to lose. There's no going back. You might as well get another."

"It's like, 'Oh God, wait.' But I just wanted to go so bad. I didn't even know. I just went. Then I was crossing the line, and the girls were mauling me."

Added Piccirillo: "Today was a lot. But we just weren't done [Friday]. There was more. It was like, 'We can't stop now.' "

Oregon's men won the 4xmile for the first time in three years, less than 24 hours after taking the distance medley relay for the third time in four years. G.C. Foster, from Jamaica, added the 4x100 title to the sprint medley it won Friday. And it finished second behind Houston in the 4x200. Virginia Tech was first in the 4x800, almost seven seconds ahead of Penn State. Villanova came in fourth, and South Carolina's women claimed the 4x200.