After a fourth-place finish at the Paul Short Invitational, Penn men's cross country walked away from Lehigh University ranked second in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the NCAA. With their No. 2 ranking, the Quakers have approached historic territory, matching the best ranking in program history.
Junior Kevin Monogue led the way for the Quakers in the 8,000-meter race, with a final time of 23:56, while seniors Patrick Hally and Chris Luciano and sophomores Aaron Groff and Colin Daly also made considerable contributions to their team's effort in the event.
The newly released Mid-Atlantic ranking is encouraging for the team, but the Quakers know there is still more to be done and the team is hopeful for things to come as the season progresses.
"It's a good confidence booster, and it lets us know how we're doing thus far, but there's still a lot to be done," Monogue said.
"I don’t think we feel pressure, but we feel that other teams are starting to recognize that we are still competitive, despite graduating a really good class last year," freshman Ryan Renken added.
That senior class last year led the Quakers to one of their best seasons ever, as they captured their first Ivy Heptagonal Championship in 43 years. Additionally, then senior Nick Tuck also qualified for Nationals after a stellar season. The senior trio of Tuck, Chris Hatler, and Brendan Shearn formed the heart of the Red and Blue's lineup that also earned a No. 2 ranking,
But based on this season's results, the Quakers haven't missed a beat.
Penn's success thus far has caused excitement to rapidly spread throughout the team, as players and coaches alike are optimistic for the upcoming Wisconsin Invitational and meets thereafter.
Although the Wisconsin Invitational presents a great challenge for the squad, they are up for the test and ready to show the country just what they have to offer.
"It's going to be a great meet with lots of good competition, and it’s a chance to test ourselves and see what we're made of," Monogue said.
The Quakers have been led all season by Luciano, who has developed and solidified himself as one of the best runners in the Ivy League. Coach Steve Dolan has seen Luciano's growth over his collegiate career and has been truly impressed by his work ethic and his drive for success.
"Chris is a good example of a runner who has gotten better every year and now it's his time to really be a key contributor," Dolan said. "He's a competitive racer and you see, during those moments, his ability to push himself and bring out that extra effort, that's special in a good racer."
The men are certainly confident in their abilities and are seemingly ready to make their leap into the national conversation.
"Our goal every year is to do well at the Ivy League championships, and of course try to win and, hopefully, make it to the national championship," Monogue said.
The Quakers will see if they can continue to build momentum this weekend in Madison, as they hope to make a run for the championship.
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