Vil­lalba

Springfield Sun - - SPORTS -

own, beat­ing her seed time by a sec­ond and push­ing the pace.

Right af­ter that, Vil­lalba went to the other side of the track to put in a work­out with her coach, Juli Ben­son.

“She’s an Olympian. She’s pretty cool,” Vil­lalba said with a big smile — Ben­son ran pro­fes­sion­aly for seven years and com­peted at the 1996 At­lanta Games.

Along with “cap­i­tal­iz­ing on some of the work they just put in,” Tues­day pro­vided a nice break from the norm.

“I re­ally wanted to have fun with the meet be­cause I don’t have a ton of meets in my sea­son where I can just show up and have fun,” Vil­lalba said. “There are def­i­nitely some stress­ful meets in my year and this is a meet where I can get out some of the nerves with­out hav­ing a lot of pres­sure on me.

“So the goal of to­day was to get some work in, in a rac­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

Vil­lalba, a two-time PIAA Cham­pion in the 800 in her days at West, is com­ing off a strong fresh­man sea­son at Penn.

At the Penn Re­lays, she helped the Quak­ers to sev­enth in the 4x800 Col­lege Womens Cham­pi­onship of Amer­ica and also was a mem­ber of the DMR four­some that raced to sixth in the COA.

In the in­door sea­son, Vil­lalba com­peted in four meets, fo­cus­ing on sev­eral mid­dle-dis­tance events and re­lays and she racked up five top-10 fin­ishes on the year.

Back in the fall, she placed 19th in her col­le­giate cross-coun­try de­but at the Big 5 In­vi­ta­tional and the Doylestown na­tive fin­ished sev­enth over­all and third among at­tached run­ners at the

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