So now we know where Penn cross country stands in the Ivy League, but where does that put the program in the larger scheme of things?
The Red and Blue will provide an answer to this question this Friday as they look to improve on their results from Ivy Heptagonals at NCAA Regionals.
At Heps, junior star Thomas Awad stole the show. With a determined kick over the last 200 meters, Awad took home the first individual Heps title for Penn since 1975.
His performance, along with a gutsy run from senior Conner Paez , led the men’s squad to an impressive third place finish in the league.
They may be underdogs going into Regionals, but the group hopes to put together a strong team effort to catapult themselves into the top three — along with perennial powerhouses Princeton and Villanova. If they do so, they give themselves a chance, depending upon the results from other Regional meets, to qualify for NCAA Nationals as a team.
Awad is no stranger to Nationals himself, having qualified for the meet last year as a sophomore. He looks poised to do so once again this season, and he will most likely compete with star Villanova sophomore Patrick Tiernan for the Regional title.
Coming off a last-place finish at Heps, the women’s squad enters the meet with significantly lower expectations. However, the team hopes that — much like last year — it can put together its strongest performance of the year at Regionals and carry that momentum over into track season.
Last year, then-freshman Cleo Whiting qualified for Nationals at the meet. She has been slowed down by injuries all year and has yet to find her racing groove, so this weekend could prove to be an opportunity for her to get back in her rhythm.
All year, observers of the program wondered how big of a step the program could take.
They’re about to get their answer.
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