2003 Men's Cross Country Season Review

The Quakers finished 10th at the NCAA Regionals to end the 2003 season.

Dec. 15, 2003

The 2003 campaign saw the Penn men's cross country team face both the glory of winning and the agony of defeat. After starting off the season on fire with a second-place finish at the Fordham Invitational, followed by a first-place finish at the Delaware Invitational, the Quakers' eventually cooled off, placing seventh at the 2003 Ivy League Heptagonal Championship. However, several solid performances, including a season-ending 10th-place finish at NCAA Regionals, proved that the Red and Blue should not be counted out and that the future is bright for this youthful Quaker squad.

PENN'S ONE-TWO PUNCH With no seniors in the top-five and last year's All-American, Dusty Lieb, out of the lineup with an injury, the Red and Blue looked toward a talented junior class to establish Penn as a contender during the fall campaign. Led by the consistent performances of Nolan Tully and Stephen Hayes, the Quakers found themselves among the top of the leader board several times this season.

After running in the shadow of Lieb in 2002, the duo was ready to step into the spotlight for the Red and Blue and did so on the opening day of the season. Tully found himself at the head of the pack at the Quakers' season-opener at the Ram Invitational, eventually finishing fifth as Penn placed second overall. After taking the second meet of the season off, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y. native returned to action at Pre-Nationals, positioning himself as the No. 1 runner in the Quakers' lineup in three of the remaining four races.

The second wallop of the Quaker's one-two punch was driven by the performances of Hayes. The Potomac, Md., native picked up where Tully left off in the second week of action, as he finished first on the team and second overall at the Delaware Invitational. Hayes would not cool down during the remainder of the season as he finished as the Quakers' No. 2 runner in the remaining four meets of the season.

FRESHMAN FURY Rookie Troy Werner made his presence felt from day one of the 2003 campaign. The Canyon Country, Calif., native finished in the top-five of the Quakers' lineup in all but two races. Werner opened the season in the No. 3 spot for the Red and Blue, after recording a ninth-place overall finish at the Ram Invitational.

The rookie continued to prove his talents race after race, posting three top-five finishes in as many weeks. Werner's reliability was rewarded on Oct. 22, when the freshman was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll for his efforts.

BRAINS AND BRAWN Junior Matt Van Antwerp emerged as a consistent and dominating force in the Red and Blue's lineup early in the season, finishing fourth on the team and 10th overall at the Ram Invitational on opening day and never looked back.

After finishing second to Tully and Hayes the majority of the season, Van Antwerp closed out his junior campaign with breakthrough performances at both the Heptagonal Championships and the NCAA Regionals. The junior was the first Quaker to cross the line in the League championship race en route to an 18th-place individual finish. A week later, Van Antwerp proved that his finish at Heps was no fluke, as he placed in the Red and Blue's top-three at the NCAA Regionals, a performance that would capture him 54th in the elite field.

In addition to his accomplishments on the trail, Van Antwerp has excelled in the classroom as well. The computer science and engineering double major ended his season by being named Academic All-Ivy for the first time in his collegiate career.

REST OF THE BEST When it came to rounding out the Quakers' top-five during the 2003 campaign, the Red and Blue counted on junior George Weiner, sophomore Breton Bonnette and freshman John Brackman to fill in the gaps.

Weiner's experience as a collegiate runner was evident early in the fall. In the second meet of the season, he recorded a sixth-place overall finish, fifth on the team, at the Delaware Invitational. The junior also broke into Penn's top-five at the Paul Short Invitational where he paced himself to the Red and Blue's No. 3 position in a time of 25:21.38.

There would be no sophomore slump for Bonnette, who finished as the No. 4 runner for the Quakers in three meets in 2003. Like Weiner, the Haddonfield, N.J., native first emerged among Penn's best at the Delaware Invitational, where he finished fourth on the team and fifth overall. After his early successes, Bonnette disappeared from the spotlight until the Heptagonal Championships, where he reclaimed his position in the Quakers' lineup. The sophomore would go on to finish fourth on the team at the NCAA Regional to end the season.

In his rookie season, Brackman slowly found his place in the lineup, eventually establishing himself as the No. 5 man on the Quakers' roster. Brackman broke through late in the season, crossing the finish line in the fifth-position for the Red and Blue in the final two meets of the season, the Heptagonal Championships and the NCAA Regionals.

FRESH START After a 2003 season that saw both the glory of winning and the agony of defeat, this youthful Red and Blue squad will get a fresh start in 2004. In addition to having another year of experience under their belts, the Quakers will return all of their top-five runners for next year's campaign - a factor that should help the team establish themselves among the elite of the Ancient Eight for years to come.