Cross Country Opens Season with Big 5 Invitational

PHILADELPHIA -- The Belmont Plateau in West Fairmount Park will once again be the first site of competition for the University of Pennsylvania men’s and women’s cross country teams. On Friday, the Quakers will race in the Big 5 Invitational against local rivals La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, and Villanova. The men will follow the conclusion of the women’s race, which is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Much of a runner’s season is devoted to training and the Big 5 Invitational is a perfect segue into competition mode. The meet will be timed like any other race, but the purpose of Friday’s event is all about the teams working together.

Penn will rely on the upperclassmen -- such as junior captain Thomas Awad, senior Conner Paez, junior captain Amy Darlington, and junior Elyssa Gensib -- to guide the freshmen and the rest of the team. At this event last year, both squads raced the beginning portion as a pack but were then encouraged to race at their own pace during the final mileage.

This tactic worked well for the Red and Blue last year at this meet and throughout the season. By the final race, both the men and the women were running at their best.

At the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, the men placed fourth and had four finish within the top 50 -- one of the four finished within the top five. The women placed sixth and had five runners finish within the top 50.

The Quakers are hoping to continue where they left off last season, as they begin their journey on Friday.

The annual Big 5 Invitational was established by the Owls to honor the memory of Roswell Friend, a member of the Temple cross country team who passed away at the start of the 2011 season.

Belmont Plateau address:
West Fairmount Park

2000 Belmont Mansion Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19131