2016 was certainly a year to remember for the entire Penn cross country program. The men ended their 43 year Ivy Heptagonal Championship drought, and the women placed third in the standings, their highest finish since 2006.
So, how does a program follow up a historically successful year like that one? Well, a couple of first place finishes to start the next season couldn’t hurt.
Racing at the Blue/Gold classic in Pennington, New Jersey this weekend, both Penn cross country teams exhibited top form, blistering the competition.
The men, on their way to a dominant first-place finish, packed a remarkable nine runners into the the top ten spots. Leading the charge was senior captain Christopher Luciano, whose 15:24.79 was just milliseconds behind the event’s top finisher, Zachary Michon from St. Joseph’s.
Joining Luciano in the top ten were junior Kevin Monogue, senior Patrick Hally, freshman Ryan Renken, senior Ross Wilson, junior Sam Webb and sophomores Colin Daly, Aaron Groff and William Daly.
While the men’s team may have stolen the headlines last year with their historic Ivy Heptagonal title, the women’s team proved to be just as exciting of a squad in 2017 with their own Blue/Gold Classic first place finish.
Just as a St. Joe's runner finished as the number one individual racer on the men’s side, so too did a Hawk runner claim the top spot in the women’s race. However, just as the Penn men were not deterred, neither were the Penn women, as the Quakers filled all eight spots behind the top runner, allowing them to win the race in dominant fashion.
Junior Marin Warner led the way for the Red and Blue, but she was followed closely by senior Abby Hong, sophomore Christina Rancan and freshman Niamh Hayes. Trailing ever so slightly and rounding out the top spots were freshman Danielle Orie, sophomore Maddie Villalba, junior Olivia Ryan and junior Carole Harsch.
The youth littering the top finishers on the women’s side may have been as impressive as the finishes themselves, as six of the event’s top 15 were Penn freshmen or sophomores. As such, the future looks increasingly bright for Penn women’s cross country.
However, looking deep into the future is not the program’s primary objective right now. Instead, both the men’s and women’s teams must prepare for the Main Line Invitational, hosted by Haverford College on September 15.
Another dominant performance there, and the rest of the Ivy League could be feeling deja vu.
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