TERRE HAUTE, IND. – In their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance as a team, the University of Pennsylvania women’s cross country squad placed 24th overall and Ashley Montgomery became a USTFCCCA All-American with her 13th place finish in a terrific day for the Quakers in Terre Haute, Ind at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Montgomery did just as she’s done all season by leading the Red and Blue in the front of the pack. She clocked an average pace of 5:23 for the six kilometer course to cross the finish line in 20:07.1 which was good for eight points in the team standings. Her performance today was 33 seconds faster than her 2015 time as she improved by 60 spots from just a year ago.
Today’s run by the senior will go down as one for the record books: Montgomery now is tied with Chris Lundy as having the best individual performance at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Lundy also placed 13th in 1991, nearly 25 years ago, when the race was contested over 5k. Additionally, by virtue of her top-40 finish, Montgomery was selected as a USTFCCCA All-American which is bestowed upon those who finish in the top-40 in the men's and women's races at the meet.
The Quakers tallied 520 points as a group as the top five went 8-73-97-166-176 for an average of 21 minutes over the six kilometer course. Behind Montgomery was the 1-2 punch of fellow seniors Cleo Whiting (93rd, 20:48) and Clarissa Whiting (125th, 20:56), who as a group led the Quakers to an incredible turnaround from their freshman to senior seasons.
Junior Abby Hong (199th, 21:27) and freshman Erin Feeney (212th, 21:40) rounded out the Penn scorers for the afternoon, as the top-5 remained steady for the Quakers the entire season. Freshman Christina Rancan (221st, 21:57) and sophomore Karli Visconto (233rd, 22:15) brought the Red and Blue to the finish as the sixth and seventh runners for the team.
Montgomery was the top finisher to cross the line from the Ivy League while Cleo Whiting was the third. In a striking upset, Oregon won the team championship by a one-point margin over Michigan, 125 to 126. Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer was the individual champion.
The Quakers came into the race ranked No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic region and No. 24 nationally. It was the first time the Penn women have competed as a team at the NCAA Championship.
In addition to Penn’s representation in the women’s team race, the Quaker men were represented by senior Nick Tuck who gained solo entry into the Championship by virtue of his finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Tuck placed 207th, clocking in a time of 31:47.0 for the 10 kilometer course to become a two-time NCAA participant following the men's team qualification in 2015.