Penn cross country, running with a team-oriented mindset, is headed off to race on the national stage this weekend after consistent success locally.
After both securing top-ten finishes at their last meet, the men's and women’s teams climbed in the NCAA Division I Mid-Atlantic Region standings, with the men jumping to second and the women reaching sixth. The Quakers hope to continue their upward trend this weekend at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin.
The meet, in its ninth year, has earned the reputation of being one of the most competitive collegiate contests in the country, so a lot pressure seemingly rests on the Quakers to maintain their recent momentum. Kevin Monogue, a junior and one the men’s top performers this year, however, begs to differ.
“It will be a really good chance to test ourselves and see what we’re made of,” Monogue said. “Instead of pressure, it’s just excitement.”
Perhaps Monogue’s confidence lies in the team’s depth, which many have highlighted as a key factor in its current success. Elaborating on the importance of having a number of contributors, Ryan Renken, a freshman who has earned the chance to travel to Wisconsin, knows he can rely on his teammates when he can’t churn out a great race and, conversely, his teammates can look to him when they aren’t at peak performance.
“I think it’s really awesome to be a part of,” Renken noted.
Unfazed by the fact that the Quakers lost a lot of talent heading into this season, he emphasized the capability of each of his fellow runners to keep the team at the forefront of the competition.
Marin Warner, a junior on the women’s team who has posted two top-ten finishes so far, also touched on the nature of the cooperative atmosphere.
“We’ve definitely been focusing on improving as a group,” she said.
Apart from the Wisconsin meet, where Penn’s top runners will be competing at on Friday, Saturday’s Princeton Invitational will also feature many Quakers hoping to showcase the team’s all-around proficiency.
With competition mounting, the Quakers – despite the looming distances from Penn, teammates, and the finish line – look to find strength, not in their legs, but in their numbers this weekend.
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