Sometimes, winning isn’t everything. Or the only thing.
Although Penn cross country failed to grab a podium spot, the Quakers ran a solid final tune-up race at the Main Line Invitational Meet against some strong competition. Freshman Cleo Whiting carried the day for Penn, notching her second top team finish for the Quakers in just as many races. On the men’s side, sophomore Brendan Smith was the top finisher for the Red and Blue.
Unlike many of the other programs running in this year’s Main Line Invitational, this was Penn’s first time competing in the Haverford-hosted meet. A step up in distance, the women ran a three-mile course, while the men ran four miles.
The women had to compete at a disadvantage, as bus trouble gave the Quakers less than twenty-five minutes to prepare for the starting gun.
“It was really nerve-racking being late” Jhabvala said. “We just all had to rush a little bit to get through our stretches and before we knew it we were on the starting line.”
In last year’s Main Line Meet, Villanova ran away with the show. This year however, there was a smattering of red amongst the tidal wave of blue.
On the women’s side, Penn finished second in the meet behind the Wildcats, with Whiting leading the way, followed closely by senior Kersie Jhabvala.
“I felt a thousand times better about this meet then I did about the one two weeks ago” Jhabvala said. “I think the work that the team has put in really showed today, and I think we are all very happy about the way that things worked out.”
While the men did not place a runner in the top three, sophomore Brendan Smith had an excellent showing for the Quakers.
“It just feels great when you know that you are helping out your team,” he said. “I was able to really put in a good performance today.”
Like the women, the men finished behind Nova, but surpassed a La Salle team that was tough competition during their unscored dual meet on the 13th.
“I think our team is just better suited for longer races,” Smith said. “I think next week when we run in the Paul Short Invitational, you will see some significant improvement in peoples times because of the greater distance.”
Coach Steve Dolan saw plenty of progress ahead of next Saturday’s meet, which features an 8 kilometer course for the men and a 6 kilometer course for the women.
“The first meet, the pace wasn’t too fast,” he said. “But today, Villanova really went out and set a fast pace, and I think it was great practice for us staying with a fast top group.”
Paul Short looms large for the Quakers, as it shapes up to be Penn’s first test against Ivy League competition this season. Yale, Brown, Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia are all expected to attend.
Last year the Penn men’s team took home a first place finish while competing in a lower division. This year shapes up to be different, though, as the Red and Blue expect to compete in the race’s top division.
No one is backing down from the challenge.
“This is really good preparation for us,” Dolan said. “I think we are on the right track, and with another week of practice I think we will be very strong going forward.”
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