PHILADELPHIA – For what could be the final race of the cross country season, the University of Pennsylvania men’s and women’s teams are ready for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships hosted by Penn State on Friday. The women will run first, competing in a 6k at noon, while the men will race on a 10k course at 1 p.m.
For more information about Regionals, click here.
After a strong third place performance at Heps two weeks ago, the men are looking to continue their hot streak. It won’t be a walk in the park for the Quakers as they will be challenged by four nationally ranked teams this year – Villanova (No. 7), Georgetown (No. 14), Penn State (No. 24), Princeton (RV). In the latest USTFCAA regional poll, Penn ranks sixth behind Navy (No. 5 in the region) and the nationally ranked opponents, in respective order.
Last year, the Red and Blue placed fourth out of 26 teams with 152 points. Junior captain Thomas Awad finished fifth overall and will once again lead the team. He is coming off a stellar performance at Heps where he claimed his first title when he crossed the finish line at 24:24.1 – Awad became the first champion from Penn since Dave Merrick’s crowning in 1975. Senior Conner Paez had his best showing at Heps since his freshman year, securing 15th place with his time of 24:53.3. The other three scorers for the Red and Blue included sophomore Brendan Shearn, sophomore Nick Tuck, and junior Brendan Smith.
On the other hand, the women will be looking to redeem themselves from their eighth place performance at Heps. Even though each of the runners improved their times, it wasn’t enough to break out of last place. The women have been led by a different top runner each week, though the core group of top runners remains the same. Junior Elyssa Gensib was the top runner for Penn at Heps, as she placed 22nd overall with a time of 21:27.0. Sophomores Cleo Whiting and Clarissa Whiting were in next, placing 33rd and 34th. Junior captain Amy Darlington and sophomore Ashley Montgomery also placed back-to-back with three hundredths of a second separating their times and places of 46th and 47th.
Last year at Regionals, the women placed sixth out of 29 teams, scoring 181 points, and they are predicted to finish in the same place this year. Ranked sixth in the region, the Quakers will face four squads ranked in the top thirty teams across the nation: Georgetown (No. 2), WVU (No. 7), Princeton (No. 28), Villanova (No. 30). In the region rankings, however, Villanova and Princeton are flipped. Host Penn State is the other team ahead of Penn.
If the Quakers want a bid to the NCAA D-I Championships, a spot as one of the top two teams would secure it. 13 at-large bids will later be determined through a selection process of reviewing competition results. After the teams have been decided, 38 additional individuals per gender are selected to compete. The top four runners of the non-competing teams will also receive automatic bids, as long as they have finished within the region’s top 25. Two additional athletes who have finished within the region’s top 25 have a chance of being selected as at-large.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional is one of nine races happening across the country that will help determine the field for the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on November 22.
Men’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Ranking
3. Penn State
9. Saint Joseph's
Women’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Ranking
5. Penn State
8. La Salle