A dramatic finish to Friday’s Heptagonal Championships left the Penn men’s cross country team jubilant and silenced those who discounted Penn from contention.
Realizing their team goal, the Red and Blue took fourth place behind Princeton, Dartmouth and Columbia at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y.
Not only did Penn’s harriers end a two-year streak of last place showings at Heps, but they did so with a spectacular finish, as the top four Quakers runners crossed the finish line in a span of 1.41 seconds.
Leading Penn senior Phil Cawkwell traversed the hilly 8-kilometer (4.971 miles) course in 25:07.3 — taking 16th place overall — while his teammates, and fellow seniors, Chris Baird and Luke Grau finished 17th and 18th with times of 25:08.4 and 25:08.6 respectively. Just one-tenth of a second behind Grau, freshman standout Conor Paez closed furiously to finish 20th overall and first among freshmen in the race. Rounding out the Quakers’ top five, Kevin Foye placed 47th in 25:48.
After waiting anxiously for the final tally of the scores, the team celebrated upon learning that it beat archrival Cornell by just eight points and missed defeating last year’s Ivy League champion, Columbia, by just 24 points.
“When one of our coaches came to us and put four fingers in the air, every single face just lit up,” Baird said. “To beat a team like Cornell, who doesn’t give us the time of day, it feels good.”
Though each of the seniors admitted his disappointment in failing to garner an All-Ivy award for a top-10 individual finish, each preferred team success to individual glory.
Penn’s female runners had a strong finish, with sophomore Leslie Kovach being named second team all-Ivy after finishing 13th in the 5K. Kovach is Penn’s first all-Ivy selection since the 2008 season.
Overall, the women’s team finished in sixth place ahead of Dartmouth and Yale, marking their best result since 2007.
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