PHILADELPHIA – The final chapter of a historic season for the University of Pennsylvania men’s cross country team will be written on Saturday, as the Quakers travel to Louisville, Ky. for the NCAA Championships. The Quakers are one of 31 teams that will descend upon E.P. Tom Sawyer Park, with the 10K national-championship race set for a 1 p.m. start.
How it Happened
The Red and Blue finished second at last week’s Mid-Atlantic Regional to secure the program’s first berth into the NCAA Championships since 1975.
The No. 21 Quakers finished with 60 total points at the regional; a 91-point improvement from a year ago (6th place). Penn fended off Villanova, finishing seven points ahead of the Wildcats.
The Quakers finished with five runners within the top 25, each earning All-Region honors in the process. Senior Thomas Awad led the way with a fourth-place finish, while junior Nick Tuck (6th) also finished in the top ten. Awad crossed the line in 30:49.5, while Tuck clocked a 10K of 30:54.6.
Brendan Shearn followed the duo in 12th-place, recording a mark of 31:12.9. Brendan Smith and Ross Wilson capped off the scoring for Penn in 15th and 23rd place, respectively. Smith registered a time of 31:21.2, while Wilson came in at 31:32.2.
Junior Ashley Montgomery of the women’s squad will also compete in the NCAA Championships, after earning an individual bid with a fifth-place finish at last week’s regional. En route to registering her fifth top-five showing of the season, Montgomery clocked a 6K time of 21:04.8.
Head Coach Steve Dolan was named the USTFCCA Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year on Tuesday. In addition to the regional success, Dolan also piloted the Red and Blue to their best Ivy Heps’ showing since 1973 (2nd place) last month, and the program's first national ranking since the establishment of the USTFCCCA Poll in 1995.
It has been a remarkable rise for the men’s cross country program during Dolan’s four seasons at the helm, as the year prior to his arrival (2011) the Quakers placed 13th in the Mid-Atlantic Region and last in the Ivy League.
On Monday, Penn moved up another two slots to No. 21 in the final USTFCCCA National Poll. Since their debut in the poll on October 20, the Quakers have rose eight spots and are now the highest ranked Ivy League team.
The Red and Blue are the only Ivy League team in the men’s NCAA field, and the first squad to earn an automatic berth since 2013.
Fans can view a live stream of the championship races at NCAA.com, and also follow along with live results by clicking here. For more information on the 2015 NCAA Championships, visit the Championship Central page.