The men’s cross country team didn’t exactly put its best foot forward this weekend. Citing slippery conditions on the back hills of the men’s course and surrounding construction, coach Charlie Powell decided not to race his top runners at the Fordham Fiasco Saturday in the Bronx. “We didn’t want any of them to get injured,” Powell said. Nevertheless, the Quakers finished fifth out of 16 teams with 118 points. Sacred Heart won the meet with 64. Powell’s concern was realized when freshman Matt Chylak turned his ankle in the back hills. According to Powell, the injury isn’t serious, but Penn most likely would have placed higher if Chylak had been able to finish. Junior Robert Dugger was Penn’s top performer on the day; he finished sixth overall with a time of 27:28.12. “[Dugger] is going to be really good,” Powell said. “He has made that transition into collegiate running, and he is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.” Although he was faced with an unfamiliar route, Dugger was sure of his strategy going into the contest. “They laid out a new course today, so I was curious how that would affect the race,” he said. “I planned to hang out in the front of the pack and spend most of the time picking people off. One of the big goals was to bring people along with me.” Dugger was followed by freshman Mike Kiley, who, with a time of 27:43.17, finished 13th. Junior Michael Cunningham (28:03.13), freshman John Foye (28:12.68) and sophomore Mike Vido (28:30.73) rounded out the top five for Penn. The Quakers women, on the other hand, were at the top of their game Saturday, as they won the meet, beating 17 other teams with 30 points. Three of Penn’s runners finished in the top five. Coach Gwen Harris didn’t rest her top runners, and her choice was rewarded. “They did a fine job of following exactly what we wanted to do,” Harris said. “We’ve only had two weeks of practice together. We’re still trying to feel our way through it and they did a really good job today.” With a time of 18:25.98, freshman Leslie Kovach finished first for the Quakers and third overall. Senior Anna Aegenes (18:27.52) followed in fourth, and freshman Laura Bilder (18:32.18) in fifth. Finishing fourth for the Quakers and seventh overall was sophomore Laura Steel (18:36.99). Completing Penn’s top five was senior Kellee Hand (18:50.25) who finished 11th overall. “I’m really happy with the way the girls followed our plan and the way we packed together for the beginning of the race,” Aegenes said. “We’re a fairly young team. I’m proud of the way they trusted the race plan, which was for us to stick together for the first mile and a half. Today was a great starting point for us, but I know we have a lot more to give.”
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