Haverford, Pa. – Despite a late arrival to the Main Line Invitational Thursday evening, the University of Pennsylvania cross country teams proved they could remain focused under a stressful situation. The Red and Blue ran against Big 5 rivals Villanova and La Salle as well as other cross country programs in Philadelphia at Haverford College.
Before arriving to the race, the Quakers were informed that the women would begin earlier than expected, 5 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. On top of that change, the bus arrived approximately 30 minutes after it was scheduled for departure. Pressed for time, the women headed to the meet in vans while the men waited for the bus.
The expected Philadelphia traffic gave the women just enough time for a quick 10 minute warm-up upon arrival. Senior captain Kersie Jhabvala ensured the Quakers remained calm and engaged for the race. Even though the Red and Blue practiced at Haverford previously, the race posed as a challenge because of the terrain and the markings of the course itself.
The race was a three-mile run comprised of one-mile loops. It was a bit of a struggle for the women to remain in one solid pack but smaller groups were maintained throughout the race.
Finishing the race fifth overall and first for Penn was freshman Cleo Whiting (17:01.20). Close behind in eighth place was Jhabvala (17:29.08), followed by Cleo’s twin sister Clarissa Whiting (17:29.39) in ninth place, and sophomore Gabriella Cuccia (17:34.66) in 11th.
Shortly after the women, the men competed in four one-mile loops and completed the race happy with their results. Sophomore Brendan Smith (19:35.87) placed eighth overall and first for the Red and Blue and senior Conor Nickel (19:41.52) placed tenth. Three more Quakers finished under the 20-minute mark: sophomore Thomas Awad (19.50.85), freshman Brendan Shearn (19.51.62), and senior captain Conner Paez (19.53.38). Freshman Nicholas Tuck (20.01.07) was just over, as the Quakers finished in 17, 18, 19, and 20th, respectively.
The Main Line Invitational was the last of the shorter distance courses for the cross country teams. The women will now prepare for a 6K and the men an 8K at the 40th Annual Paul Short Invitational held on Oct. 5 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.