BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Hard work pays off and for the University of Pennsylvania cross country teams, this couldn’t be any truer as the men placed fourth and the women sixth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships today at Lehigh’s Goodman Course. Four of the men finished in the top 50, with one finishing in the top five, and have the possibility of receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. The women averaged 21:12, as Penn’s top five runners all finished within the top 50.
With their best showing of the season, the men ran an average time of 30:50. No. 20 Villanova finished first, averaging 29:57, and took the top two spots of the race. Georgetown and Penn State finished in the third and fourth slots, followed by a runner from Penn and No. 15 Princeton.
The first Ivy to cross the finish line was sophomore Thomas Awad, who placed fifth overall with a time of 29:49 and punched himself a ticket to nationals. Courtney Jaworski was the last Quaker to represent Penn cross country at nationals, which was back in 2005.
Next to cross the line within the top 50 was sophomore Brendan Smith (30:41) in 24th, freshman Brendan Shearn (30:50) 26th, and Junior John Trueman (31:19) 46th. Rounding out the team’s seven runners were freshman Nick Tuck (31:29) in 51st, senior Conner Paez (31:33) in 56th, and senior Conor Nickel (32:40) in 102nd.
The Villanova women, who dropped out of the national top thirty but are still receiving votes, placed first with a one-two finish as well as a fourth, eighth, and 16th overall finish with an average time of 20:10. No. 4 Georgetown’s top five runners all pulled finishes within the top 10 (3, 6, 7, 9, 10) good for the second place team. Third place went to Penn State (No. 30), fourth went to West Virginia (No. 24), and fifth went to Ivy rival Princeton (No. 22).Penn finished 46 points behind the Tigers.
Crossing the line first for the women and 23rd overall was freshman Cleo Whiting at 20:50. As the top five teams will be traveling to championships, Whiting will likely earn an individual qualifying position as she was the third highest runner not on the top teams.
The next four from Penn finished back-to-back within ten places of each other – 34/35 and 44/45. Coming in 34th was sophomore Elyssa Gensib at 21:20 followed by freshman Clarissa Whiting two seconds later in 35th. Finalizing the top five runners were freshman Ashley Montgomery and sophomore Gabbriella Cuccia, both crossing at 21:24. Also running for the women were freshman Madison Holleran (21:43) and senior captain Chelsea Delaney (22:45), who finished 69th and 125th, respectively.
The top two teams in each region automatically compete at the NCAA D-I Championships. The remaining 13 at-large bids are then determine through a selection process of reviewing all competition results. Once all teams have been determined, 38 additional individuals per gender are selected to compete. Of the teams that were not selected, the top four finishers are automatically selected, as long as they have finished within the region’s top 25. Two additional athletes, who have finished in the regional top 25, will be selected from the remainder of the national pool as at-large individuals.
The team and individual at-large selections will be made on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 3:00 p.m. on NCAA.com.