For the Waynesburg University women’s and men’s cross-country squads, this weekend’s trip to Oberlin, Ohio served as a late season bonding experience, but also one final tune-up as the teams ran at the Oberlin-Inter-Regional Rumble in the final regular season meet, with Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships upcoming Nov. 2.
Before running Saturday, the teams bussed to Oberlin Friday and held a team bonding activity later that evening. Head coach Chris Hardie believes chemistry and support of each other is crucial heading into the postseason.
“A big strength of this program has been its team culture,” Hardie said. “Not only do we want to be successful when the gun goes off, we want to help our teammates achieve their very best. We are one family with a similar goal and mission.”
When it came time to perform, the women’s team found success throughout the day, finishing 16th out of 32 teams at the event. Sophomore Aubrey Wingeart continued her dominance running a 22:13.7, placing 21st. Classmate Gloria Reed finished 75th in the 283-athlete field.
“Aubrey is very consistent right now,” Hardie said. “It’s actually a big strength of this team, but Aubrey takes this to a whole new level. It’s been a few years since we have had a runner with three straight 22-minute performances. That is a good sign of where she is in the season as we head into a few championship races.”
The men didn’t finish as high as their counterparts Saturday, falling at 32nd out of 39 teams.
The top three finishers for Waynesburg were spread out in place, but all had similar times with freshman Jac Cokley [134th], juniors Jordan Payne [167th] and Nate Jecelin [188th]. Although the team finished lower than expected, Hardie sees no cause for concern with the placements of the men.
“Oberlin has historically been a tough race for our men,” Hardie said. “The field is the most talented that we will see this year. We anticipated a finish somewhere near the middle of the race, and we found ourselves a bit lower than that when the dust settled. But once we looked at the times, we could see that many of our runners ran their personal bests this week.”
The Oberlin-Inter-Regional Rumble allowed both of Waynesburg’s cross-country programs to see other PAC programs once more before championships.
“We have some good match ups with PAC schools this year, Hardie said. “Match ups that are down to a few seconds or runner here or there. So having all of the PAC schools in the race was a benefit for us. We took the data from yesterday and have already begun to formulate a race strategy for November 2 at Westminster.”
Looking ahead, the Jackets will have two full weeks to finalize their preparation for PACs which are set for Nov. 2 in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. The ladies will have a chance to win their fourth consecutive conference title on the course, and the men will look to build on the fifth place finish they posted a year ago.
“We always talk about “sharpening the sword” this time of the year,” Hardie said. “The goal for the squad this week and next week is to stay healthy, remove outside stress and distractions and sharpen up our fast-twitch muscles.”