PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s and women’s cross country teams will put it all on the line Friday at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, in hopes of receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. Racing the West Windsor Fields at Princeton for the second time this season, the women’s squad will race a 6K at noon, while the 23rd-ranked men’s team will follow with a 10K at 1 p.m.
What’s at Stake...
Both Penn squads will be battling to finish as one of the top-two teams in the region in order to receive an automatic berth into next weekend’s (Nov. 21) NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. Following the top-two squads that finish in each of the nine regions, 13 at-large selections are made for Louisville based on quality wins throughout the season.
After teams have been determined, 38 additional individuals per gender are selected to compete at the NCAA Championships. From those teams not selected for NCAA’s, the top four finishers at each regional -- who also finish in the top 25 -- are automatically picked.
Last Time Out...
The men’s and women’s teams both put together great efforts at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on October 30. Senior Thomas Awad won his second-consecutive Ivy League title, becoming the first back-to-back individual winner since 2006. He also became Penn’s first two-time victor since Dave Merrick tallied three championships in the mid-seventies. As a whole, the men fell four points shy of Columbia for a second-place showing -- signifying their best Heps finish since 1973.
Brendan Shearn and Nick Tuck followed Awad, finishing in 12th and 13th- place respectively. Both were named second-team All-Ivy.
In recognition of the their efforts at Heps, the Quakers moved up six slots in the USTFCCCA National Poll to No. 23.
The women registered a fifth-place finish, placing ahead of Cornell, Harvard and Columbia. The Quakers improved 64 points from last season, and recorded two runners within the top 13. Junior Ashley Montgomery led the way with a fifth-place finish, clocking in at 21:19.9. Cleo Whiting came in 13th, nabbing second-team All-Ivy in the process.
The Quakers finished sixth on both sides at last year’s Mid-Atlantic Regionals hosted by Penn State. It was Awad once again leading the way on the men’s side, finishing third out of 156 runners. Departed senior Conner Paez also earned All-Region honors with a 23rd-place finish. Other scorers for Penn included Shearn finishing 33rd and Tuck taking 37th.
The women were led by All-Region performers, Cleo and Clarissa Whiting, who finished back-to-back at 19th and 20th. Other notable finishers for the Quakers were Montgomery placing 42nd, and senior captain Amy Darlington capturing 52nd.
Villanova is the defending champion on the men's side, while Georgetown took the women's title last season.
Earlier this Season...
The Quakers had success at West Windsor Fields earlier in the fall, sweeping the Princeton Invitational on October 17. The men’s team topped a field that featured 13 teams slotted in the Mid-Atlantic poll, including nationally-ranked Villanova (then-No.12). Awad placed fourth to lead a Penn attack that had five in the top 12.
The women also beat out a highly competitive group of teams (10 squads ranked in the Mid-Atlantic Region), finishing 11 points better than the 24-team field. Montgomery (4th), Cleo (8th) and Clarissa (9th) all finished in the top 10.
For live results from both races, follow this LINK. Also be sure to follow @PennTrack on Twitter and Instagram for all updates and recaps from Friday.