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Penn Relays on Saturday, April 26, 2014 Credit: Analyn Delos Santos , Analyn Delos Santos

Conventional wisdom holds that when it gets cold outside, it’s best to stick together and huddle up. Penn track and field must not have gotten the memo.

Despite the frigid Northeast temperatures, the program decided to divide and conquer, sending some of its top runners to compete in New York and Boston while the rest of the team participated in the Monmouth Invitational last weekend.

The program achieved strong results across the board, but star junior runner Thomas Awad managed to steal the show for the Quakers once again.

As the Red and Blue’s lone representative at New York’s historic Millrose Games, Awad dropped an astounding 7:54.81 in the 3,000-meter run, improving his own personal best time in the event by 10 seconds and surpassing Penn’s previous record of 41 years by a hefty four-second margin.

The run is just another addition to Awad’s recent string of incredible performances, but coach Steve Dolan sees it as significant nonetheless.

“He’s getting to an elite level, so it’s getting every bit more challenging to keep taking steps,” Dolan said. “So this weekend was a big deal for him.

“The time actually gives him a chance to make Nationals.”

Meanwhile, a group of Penn’s top middle-distance runners made the trip to New England to compete in Boston University’s Valentine Invitational. Many of the middle-distance specialists have focused on sprints early in the season, but the meet gave them an opportunity to run in their comfort zone.

“What happened with that group is we kind of were setting them up for Boston,” Dolan said. “This was their chance to show what they could do.”

In particular, senior Tom Timmins stood out in the 400-meter for the Red and Blue, posting the school’s top time in 12 years. Freshman upstart Jeff Wiseman and sophomore Carey Celata also put up strong performances for the Quakers in the 800-meter.

While the meets in New York and Boston were all about outstanding individual performances, the Monmouth Invitational focused on the team as a whole.

“[Millrose and Boston] are places where people really try to run great performances against top competition,” Dolan said. “The Monmouth meet was more of a chance for the whole team.”

And the Red and Blue were up for the challenge, as the women’s and men’s squads finished first and second in the meet, respectively.

While Penn’s event groups were strong as a whole, the women’s 60-meter squad was especially impressive, finishing one-two-three in the event.

Moving forward, the Red and Blue have one final meet before the all-important indoor Ivy Heptagonals meet two weekends from now. Meanwhile, next weekend’s meet at Haverford will serve multiple purposes for the Quakers.

“A number of people will compete in Haverford as a tune-up,” Dolan said. “And others will compete in Haverford to kind of earn their spot with the travel spot for the Ivy League Championships.”

The temperatures may or may not rise above freezing before then, but regardless, competition is definitely heating up on the track.

Additional reporting contributed by Jacob Adler.

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