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Sometimes anything but a win is disappointing. At other times, a team faces so much competition that a victory is virtually out of the question, and other achievements start to matter. For the Penn women's cross country team, this was one of those "other times." The Quakers finished 10th of a field of 34 teams in an extremely competitive field at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., on Saturday. Indeed, the teams in the race read like a Who's Who list of collegiate cross country. First-place Villanova was followed by talented squads from Cornell, Georgetown and Michigan State. "This is probably some of the best competition we'll see all season," Penn sophomore Kristen Koch said. "It is much greater than what we faced before." Finishing behind these powers was no disappointment for the Quakers, who were excited to finish in the top 10 of this prestigious race. "We were aiming to do about 10th," Koch said. "The course was very fast and flat, and we all got out like we wanted to." Koch finished 31st overall and first on the team, with a time of 22 minutes and 13 seconds. It was the second time this year she finished first on the Red and Blue. Junior Sam Desposito finished in 42nd place, clocking in at 22:21. She was followed closely by freshman Abbi Gleeson, who finished 49th with a time of 22:28. Desposito had been first on the team the previous two races, winning the Delaware Invitational and finishing second at Rutgers. She was named ECAC Athlete of the Week for the week of September 25. The closeness of the members of the team was no real surprise, as the Quakers have been running very close as a pack all season. "I just had a good day," Koch said. "I felt good." The Quakers are happy with the pack mentality that they have had all season. With a young team that is very close in ability, they are able to stick as a pack somewhat even in big races. The Quakers have two more big races coming up. Next Saturday is the Lafayette Invitational, a smaller race in which they will be looking to place highly. On October 27, Penn faces its most important test when it races in the Heptagonal Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The Red and Blue will be looking forward to improving on their last place finish at Heps last year. The Quakers improved their place in the Paul Short Invite by 11 places this year. For now, however, the Quakers can concentrate on continuing their surprising season. With a young team that has no place to go but up, they have a bright outlook. On Saturday, the Quakers took one more step toward becoming an upper-tier team. "We might have been able to do a little better," Koch said. "But why complain?"

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