While the 76ers practiced at the Palestra and the football team battled at Columbia, the Penn cross country teams competed in two different competitions across the country on Saturday.
Part of the team competed in the Princeton Invitational, while other runners competed in the Pre-National Invitational at Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind.
The team was divided between the two events to give more runners experience against high level competition and to prepare for upcoming events.
“We took our stronger runners and sent our top seven to Indiana State,” coach Steve Dolan said. “We wanted to give them a chance to see this course. This is where the NCAA Championships are run. We’re not in a position to compete in that this year, but we wanted to give our stronger runners a chance to run against national level competition.”
In the women’s 6K championship race, the team finished in 20th place out of 25 teams with an average time of 23:32 and a total time of 1:57.39 for the first five runners to finish the race.
Senior Chelsea Delaney finished in 29th place out of 206 runners with a 22:26 time and a pace of 6:01 per mile.
Having been sick for the last few weeks, Delaney made an effort to save herself for this race and prepare for future competitions.
“I scaled back my mileage and rested myself a lot more this week to prep for today’s race,” Delaney said. “Finally feeling healthy again really puts me back into the right mindset and just makes me anticipate Heps [Heptagonal Championships (Ivy League Championships)] even more.”
In the men’s 8K championship race, the team finished in 15th place out of 20 teams with an average time of 25:16.
Freshman Samuel Miner led Penn in 60th place overall out of 272 runners, running the course in 25:03 at a pace of 5:03 per mile. Penn will return to the same Princeton course for the Ivy League championships later this season.
“It was nice to have a successful test run of the course,” Delaney said.
At the same time, Penn sent a young contingent to Indiana State.
“We actually sent five freshmen and two sophomores to Indiana State,” Dolan said. “I would argue that we were the youngest group in the field.”
In a field of 49 teams, the Penn women’s cross country team placed 46th in the 6K Blue Race. The team’s total time for its top five runners was 1:50.29.68 and the average time for the team was 22:05.94.
Sophomore Elyssa Gensib placed in 147th of 340 runners with a time of 21:47.44. Freshman Cleo Whiting finished in 159th at 21:50.22, and freshman Madison Holleran finished in 195th at 22:02.40.
“It was by far the most competitive race we’ve ever been in. I don’t think any of us had ever traveled on a plane for cross country before,” Gensib said. “We still have so much ground in front of us to accomplish. We’re not satisfied. It was cool, but we want more.”
In a field of 52 teams, the Penn men’s cross country team placed 38th with a total time for its top five runners of 2:05.11.
Freshman Brendan Shearn also placed 172nd with 25:02.85, and senior Conner Paez finished 204th with 25:12.59.
And sophomore Thomas Awad placed 65th out of 359 runners with a time of 24:20.44.
“It feels a lot more exciting because our team is so much better than we were last season,” Awad said. “Improving our program and trying to turn it around is fun.”
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