PHILADELPHIA – The men and women of the University of Pennsylvania cross country teams will join the other members of the Big 5 -- Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, Villanova, and host Temple -- Friday at Belmont Plateau in West Fairmount Park for the second annual Friend Big 5 Invitational. The meet will begin with the women's 4K race at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men's 6K race at 6 p.m. The women will run four 1,000-meter loops and the men will run six loops on the main field, giving the meet a spectator-friendly feel.
The opening meet of the cross country season, the Friend Big 5 Invitational is the only local event the teams will compete in until the outdoor track & field season.
During the summer, sophomore Brendan Smith competed for Team USA in the Pan-American Junior Games in Medellin, Columbia and finished sixth as the top American in the steeplechase. Smith will join senior captain Conner Paez, who is making a full return after serious injuries, as key runners for the men.
Some women's runners to keep on the lookout for are senior Kersie Jhabvala, who will lead the team as its captain, and sophomore Elyssa Gensib. The freshman class joining the women will also add depth to the team.
The Friend Big 5 Invitational was established last year by the Owls in memory of Roswell Friend, a member of the Temple cross country team who passed away at the start of the 2011 season.
Follow the cross country teams on Twitter (@PennTrack) for live updates.
Belmont Plateau address:
West Fairmount Park
2000 Belmont Mansion Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19131