For the final time this season, Penn cross country has crossed the finish line.
Both the men’s and women’s teams competed at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Friday in Bethlehem, Pa. The results on the day were encouraging, as the men’s team finished in fifth place out of 25 teams, while the women’s placed sixth out of 31.
“I’m very proud of the team; it’s been a very good season,” coach Steve Dolan said. “But I was really proud of the effort. I really thought the team ran as hard as possible, and we had some very strong individual performances.”
While both teams certainly did have impressive showings, they were not enough for either to qualify as a team for the NCAA National Championships next week.
Junior Anthony Russo was able to qualify for Nationals as an individual, as he was one of the top four finishers not already on a qualified team. Russo finished in ninth place in the 10K with a time of 30:13.2. He will go to Terre Haute, Ind. next Saturday to represent the Quakers on a national level. This will mark his second consecutive year qualifying for the highest level of collegiate cross country competition.
“We’ll dream about trying to get the team to Nationals next year, but I’m proud of the efforts that the team has given this season, and we’re looking forward to having Anthony represent us at the NCAAs,” Dolan said.
For the women’s team, sophomore Ariana Gardizy and senior Nia Akins led the way, finishing 17th and 21st in the 6K, respectively. Their finishes were good enough for All-Region recognition.
The women’s team finished ahead of fellow Philadelphia schools such as Temple and La Salle, but behind Ivy rival Princeton and the champions, Penn State.
The men’s team, on the other hand, beat out Penn State, but fell to Villanova and Temple, who finished first and fourth, respectively.
Men's cross country senior Will Daly also gained All-Region honors, finishing in 24th place. He finished only 36 seconds behind Russo in a tight race.
Looking to the future, Dolan emphasizes that the Quakers have a lot to look forward to in the winter and spring with the Red and Blue back in action.
“We’ll take a break here through Thanksgiving, and then before you know it we’ll see Penn track and field in action,” Dolan said. “This group will continue on with more great things as the year progresses.”
So while the season has ended for most of Penn's cross country athletes, Russo will keep donning the Red and Blue for the time being.