Both Penn and Yale are looking to some younger runners to improve their team finishes from last year. Yale and Penn finished 6th and 7th, respectively, last year in the team race. And unfortunately, neither team has any returning athletes who finished in the top 25 last year.
The Penn Quakers are looking to their freshmen and sophomore runners to help carry the team this Saturday. Sophomores Brendan Smith (Fayetteville, N.Y.) and Thomas Awad (East Norwich, N.Y.) are the top 2 returning runners from last year’s Heps race. Awad, the 2013 USATF Junior 5km champion, is an All-Ivy contender as his 8km time from PreNationals shows that he can keep up with the front pack of Princeton runners. Junior John Trueman is the only other returning athlete from last year’s Heps squad. This leaves room for some new faces on the Heps roster – freshmen Brendan Shearn (Asland, Penn.) and Nicholas Tuck (Burke, Va.), and senior Conner Paez (Solon, Oh.). This will be Paez’s first trip back to Heps since his freshman year, where he was the top freshman in the 2010 race. In fact, this will be his first Heps of any season since his freshman year as he has had a remarkable/unbelievable comeback from a potential career-ending motorcycle accident in August 2011. Paez will definitely be making the most of this trip back to Heps.
Yale is looking to a new lead runner to guide the team this weekend, as 2012 top harrier Matt Nussbaum has yet to compete this season. Kevin Dooney (Dublin, Ire.) has been the first Bulldog runner at two meets this season, including a top 30 finish at the Paul Short Invitational. Dooney joins Alex Conner (Sonoma, Calif.), John McGowan (Washington, D.C.), and freshman James Randon (New Canaan, Conn.) as the only Yale runners who have broken 25 minutes for the 8km so far this year. In fact, Dooney, Conner, and McGowan are running faster for the 8km race than they were running going into Heps last year. Isa Qasim (Wilmette, Ill.) and Duncan Tomlin (San Diego, Calif.) are within 10 seconds of that 25 minute mark. Given how fast the West Windsor course has been, these two will likely break 25 minutes on Saturday. According to the Yale Daily News, the Bulldogs are eyeing down Harvard as they are looking for redemption from being swept at their annual dual meet.