Senior Chris Luciano got off to a fast start for Penn cross country, but the underclassmen have been thriving as well for both the men's and women's teams.

Credit: Ilana Wurman

Momentum | mōˈmen(t)əm | (noun): starting your competitive season by placing eight women and nine men in their respective top 10s.

Despite the graduation of some of their best runners, the Penn men’s and women’s cross country teams got off to a scorching hot start at the Rider Invitational. To the outsider, this would seem like a surprisingly dominant result. To senior Chris Luciano, it was anything but.

“One thing that’s made our team good over the years is, you know we always lose guys — we’ve lost Ivy League Champions — yet we always have people step up bigger and better,” the captain said. “So, although the meet was a huge confidence booster, it proved what we already knew.”

With the ideal start to the season accomplished, the Red and Blue will turn their sights to Friday’s Main Line Invitational. This meet will be similarly small in scale to the Quakers' previous meet, but unlike at the Rider Invitational, which was a 4k (3.1 miles), the Quakers will be running four miles at Haverford College—an important milestone as the team goes forward into the longer, more important meets later in the season.

Luciano echoed this sentiment about using the meets in the season’s nascent stages to, most importantly, get comfortable. 

“You can practice all you want, but there’s something to be said about getting in a jersey and feeling the rhythm of a race with your teammates, even if it isn’t necessarily a full distance,” he said.

At the Rider Invitational, the best times from Penn runners came from upperclassmen and underclassmen alike — a good sign for not only this season, but seasons to come. 

On the men’s side, Luciano was the highest finisher for the Quakers and came in second overall. He was trailed by junior Kevin Monogue (third overall), fellow senior Patrick Hally (fourth overall) and freshman Ryan Renken (fifth overall). Most impressively, these four men finished within .6 seconds of one another, with five more Quakers finishing within less than two seconds of Luciano.

For the women, junior Marin Warner led the charge, finishing second overall as well. Senior Abigail Hong trailed closely behind her and finished third, sophomore Christina Rancan secured fourth and freshman Niamh Hayes came in fifth place. These four women finished within less than a second of one another, and only ten seconds separated the top eight Quakers.

The captain noted that “sending packs of strong Penn runners in together” meant a lot to him and to the team. He can’t complain with those results.

While the stakes are not yet considerably high this season, that is not to say that these meets do not mean a lot to these runners.

“I think [the Main Line Invitational] is another stepping stone towards those longer meets," Luciano said. "So if we can go a little faster over the longer distance… and do it as a team… we’ll be in great shape."

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