There are no two ways about it: 2013 was a transition year for Penn cross country. Coach Steve Dolan himself would gladly admit it . The season saw a lot of ups and downs for two young squads that ultimately finished in unfortunately familiar territory: the bottom of the Ivy League. However, it also provided some great moments for the program to build on moving into this year. Here are some of the best moments from the season:
1. A coming- out party
The road may have been rocky at times along the way, but Penn cross country ended the season on a positive note with a strong performance at NCAA Regionals. Young supporting contributors — like Brendan Shearn and Nick Tuck for the men and Elyssa Gensib and Ashley Montgomery for the women — provided the Quakers with a depth that had eluded them all season. The result was the best race of the year for both the men’s and the women’s teams, which finished fourth and sixth in the region, respectively. It was a great end-of-season achievement that left them hungry for more.
2. Young guns take over Nationals
Despite their youth, then-sophomore Thomas Awad and then-freshman Cleo Whiting solidified themselves as the top runners on their respective squads throughout the season. This was reflected at the end of the season, when they were the lone representatives for the Red and Blue at the NCAA Championships. There is a new era of runners at Penn cross country and they are here to stay.
3. Awad flirts with Ivy gold
The men may have only been able to muster a sixth-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships, but that didn’t stop star runner Thomas Awad from taking the Ivy League running community by storm. Awad placed third, the best finish for a Penn runner in the event since 1975. He would go on to have one of the top season-long performances in the nation during track season, but this may have been Awad’s first true moment of brilliance.
4. Seeing double
In only the fourth meet of their collegiate careers at the Princeton Invitational, freshmen twin sisters Cleo and Clarissa Whiting finished first and second for the Penn women’s squad, respectively. The two sisters would go on to be two of the most consistent performers among an impressive group of young women’s distance runners. Although the women were unable to parlay these efforts into consistent team success, the future of the program is certainly looking bright.
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