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PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's cross country team, fresh off a victory at the Leopard Invitational, will face its toughest test of the season on Saturday when they travel to Princeton's West Windsor Fields to run in the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships. Up a spot to No. 8 in the most recent Mid-Atlantic Region poll following their win two weeks ago, the Quakers will be matched up with a field containing two teams ranked nationally - No. 7 Cornell and No. 22 Yale - and five other teams that join the Red and Blue in the regional rankings.
Much has changed for the Quakers since the last time they toed the line at Heps. Though the team is still led by its senior co-captains, Leslie Kovach and Margaret Diacont, an infusion of freshmen talent as well as the emergence of junior Kersie Jhabvala have improved Penn's fortunes throughout the season. A stronger group in 2012 looks to escape the eighth position that the team occupied in last season's race.
One thing sure to help both Penn and the rest of the field will be the improved race conditions. A year ago, overnight rains followed by a snowstorm that moved in the morning of the race left runners to deal with sloppy footing as well as frigid cold and wind. This time around, race conditions look to be near-perfect with dry conditions leading into Saturday and highs throughout the week in the upper 60s.
Following Heptagonals, Penn will continue its season in two weeks' time at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, hosted by Penn State. Though the Quakers haven't run in State College this year, they've seen the course before, having competed in the Penn State Invitational the previous three seasons. That Nov. 9 race is slated for an 11 a.m. start.