The Penn women are entering the 2015 HepsXC Championships at Van Cortlandt Park on one of the highest notes for them in recent years. They are receiving votes in the national polls for the first time in school history after winning the Princeton XC Invitational a few weeks ago. In addition, they are ranked 5th in the Mid-Atlantic Region – another school best mark. Considering how they finished in the back of the team pack last year at this meet, the team feels they are going to keep going up.
Penn’s three juniors Ashley Montgomery, and sisters Cleo and Clarissa Whiting will lead the Quaker pack tomorrow. This season has proven to be a breakout year for Montgomery as she has been the first runner to cross the finish line for Penn in each of her races. Last year, Montgomery finished 47th in the 6km race behind four of her teammates, including the Whiting sisters.
Since the beginning of the season, Montgomery, Cleo and Clarissa have finished four-tenths of a second of each other in one race and have continued to rank among the top three finishers for Penn. In 2014, Cleo and Clarissa placed 33rd and 34th respectively, at the HepsXC Championships, easily setting all time bests in the history of the women’s program.
Penn has not won a team title at these championships since 1990 and has never produced an individual champion. Montgomery will have her work cut out for her on what appears to be the most challenging course of the season but stands as a contender for the championship title.
Penn also has several athletes that could round out the competition for the Quakers and may have a chance in scoring for the team: sophomores Abby Hong, Isabel Griffith, Emily Fisher, and freshman Karli Visconto. Hong and Griffith both competed at HepsXC last year – Hong was 57th while Griffith was 65th overall.
– Nell Smith
photo by Bill Shearn