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Senior Madeline Villalba lead the way for the Quakers picking up the top time for the women's team at the Main Line Invitational.

Credit: William Snow

After top-10 team placements in their second and third invitational events this past Friday, Penn men’s and women’s cross country are primed for a successful season.

Building off of their top-half finishes at the Fordham Fiasco two weeks ago, the Quakers were eager to have a good showing at Boston College’s Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown and at Haverford’s Main Line Invitational. Luckily for Penn, both teams were able to boost themselves into top-ten positions in particularly stacked competitions, showing the capacity to improve team placement in a relatively quick turnaround period.

In Boston, Penn's runners were able to beat out many of the 21 participating teams, which included groups from the ACC and SEC along with fellow Ivy League competitor Brown. In an arguably more difficult meet than the Fordham Fiasco, the men’s and women’s teams finished in eighth and ninth place, respectively. Individually, the teams had strong placements as well, with all but one athlete completing top-100 runs.  

Closer to home, the Red and Blue grabbed top-five spots at the Main Line Invitational, with the women’s team snatching third and the men’s team placing first overall. The men had a particularly strong performance, with four athletes finishing in top-ten times.

One highlight of both invitationals was the star performances by freshman runners, a promising sign for the program's future. In Boston, two of the top-five women's athletes from Penn were first-year runners. Freshman Elizabeth Bader finished 18 seconds behind the leading Penn runner, senior Madeline Villalba. 

Juniors Anthony Russo and Ryan Renken led the 8K for Penn, with Russo finishing one second ahead of Renken, while seniors Andrew Hally and William Daly crossed the finish line 11 seconds behind Renken with a time of 25:16. In Pennsylvania, the top two Penn women's athletes were freshmen, with Delia Russo and Nikhila Obbineni placing 11th and 14th, respectively. 

On top of that, two of the top five athletes from the men’s team were freshmen, although strong showings from sophomores Mason Gatewood, Ray Sellaro, and William Hare secured the first-place finish for the Quakers.

Now that the teams have had some experience in invitationals this season, they've become used to competing against familiar opponents. While Princeton and Harvard served as substantial roadblocks to the Quakers at Fordham a few weeks ago, some new teams have come into play at these two recent meets. 

At Haverford, eight Villanova runners finished in the top 10 before Russo could reach the finish line. While the Coast to Coast Invitational featured greater variation among its victors, Harvard, Syracuse, and Dartmouth were three of the teams that stood out.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have a few weeks before their next meet on Oct. 5 at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational. This will be yet another test for Penn, since the teams will likely see many of the same players compete here as they did at the Main Line Invitational. Next weekend's meet will also allow the Red and Blue to get another performance under their belt in preparation for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the biggest meet of the season, which will take place on Nov. 1.

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