PHILADELPHIA - The men's cross country team breaks training and gets its first taste of real competition on Friday afternoon, facing La Salle in a dual meet at Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia. The women's race is set for 5 p.m., with the men to follow at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Though the meet will be timed just as any official race would, Friday's event will serve as more of a tune-up for each team than anything else. Penn will compete in either 8 or 10K races the rest of the season, while Friday will see the teams running a 6K course.
Team captains George Dickson and Kevin Foy, scorers in every race they participated in a season ago as juniors, look to lead the pack for the Quakers. They will be joined by the return of other key runners such as John Foye and Mike Kiley, also both seniors. A group of talented freshmen joins in as well, hoping to add an extra dimension to the team's depth.
Penn comes into Friday's opener as the No. 13 ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic Region preseason team rankings, while La Salle is No. 6. The Explorers were the 2011 Atlantic 10 champion and are the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10 coaches' poll. They return many key components in 2012, perhaps most importantly the A-10's most outstanding performer from 2011, senior Alfredo Santana.
The Quakers will compete in their first multi-team event next weekend at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City with the running of the Iona Meet of Champions, an event that Penn placed seventh in a year ago.