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Big 5 Cross Country Meet. Penn dominated Credit: Michele Ozer , Michele Ozer

He’s back.

In his first competitive action since earning All-American honors at cross country Nationals, star junior runner Thomas Awad headlined the efforts of Penn track and field at the New York Armory Invitational over the weekend.

If any word can be used to describe the Armory, it’s historic, as it has been compared to Franklin Field and other top track venues in the United States. However, the stage was not too big for Awad, who decided to match its history by making some of his own.

Competing mainly against a highly competitive field of professional runners — along with two other elite collegians — Awad dropped an astounding time of 4:00.2 in the indoor mile. The performance destroyed the previous Penn indoor mile record — which had stood for 42 years — by two seconds.

Awad’s exhibition is reminiscent of the sub-4:00 mile that he dropped at the Penn Relays last spring, but it may be even more impressive considering that times are generally significantly slower indoors and that this is only his first race of the season.

Aside from Awad, it was the first competitive action for most of the rest of the distance team as well, and many other members of the squad also returned triumphantly.

In particular, both the men’s and women’s 4x800-meter teams performed quite well, finishing third and fourth, respectively.

Meanwhile, two underclassmen also found a way to shine under the bright lights of the Big Apple, as freshman Candace Taylor and sophomore Carey Celata broke into the top three spots of the Penn record books in the 500m and 1000m, respectively.

The weekend was undoubtedly dominated by the Red and Blue runners, but the jumpers and throwers ­— who had headlined the team’s early season efforts — were also in action.

In the high jump, junior Thomas Pitt finished third overall, just ahead of freshman Michael Monroe. And while junior thrower Sam Mattis had an uncharacteristically poor weekend (fouling twice in the shot put), sophomore Billy Bishop was able to register a top-10 all-time throw for Penn in the same event and finish seventh overall.

The Red and Blue will travel to Penn State this Friday to compete in the Sykes Sabock Cup.

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