kevin monogue
Credit: Ilana Wurman

A month ago, it was unclear whether the success of Penn cross country would be limited by the loss of three of its best runners.

Turns out, it's not.

At the Blue Gold Classic in early September, Penn cross country ran the table, placing first in both the men’s and women’s races. The men's team occupied nine spots in the top ten while the women's team claimed eight.

The Red and Blue were similarly dominant at the Main Line Invitational, especially on the men’s side. The men scored a lean 25 points on their way to a first place finish, while the women, led by a second-place performance from star senior Abigail Hong, put up 40 points to secure the runner-up position.

“Having those good stepping stones in the first month of the season has really helped us to come together as a team, see where we’re at, and get ready for our next big competition,” said sophomore Kevin Monogue, regarding the men’s side.

Youth has played a big role the success of the women’s team so far, but freshman Danielle Orie, who was the Quakers’ second top finisher and eighth overall at the Main Line Invitational, emphasized that the team doesn’t particularly concern itself with the importance of one individual performance over another.

“When we go into a race, it’s not focusing about the individual—it’s all about ‘no man left behind’. I think that creates a bond that makes you feel like you’re a part of something great,” the freshman phenom said.

Now, riding an incredible wave of momentum, the Quakers turn their attention to the Paul Short Invitational. After the Red and Blue take the 90 minute trek up to Bethlehem, both the men and the women will be greeted with the longest course that they have seen thus far. The men have an 8K (roughly five miles), and the women face a 6K (roughly four miles)—a mile longer than the previous longest course.

The runners consider these first three meets to be a sort of prequel trilogy. Certainly, the trilogy to this point has seen prodigious levels of success (very much unlike certain George Lucas-produced prequels), but these are, as the athletes say, more of a way to fine-tune their abilities and build chemistry before the season’s more consequential meets than anything else. Results are an afterthought.

“If don’t take anything as a learning experience, then it was a waste of time… It’s about trying to push your limits—winning is nice, but I think when it comes down to it, true winning is knowing that you gave it your all,” Orie said sagaciously.

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