A large field can make for a crowding out effect, but that was far from the case for the Waynesburg University men’s and women’s cross country teams this weekend. Both teams traveled to Lehigh University to take part in the Paul Short Run Invitational.
The men’s team finished 11 out of the 35 teams in their respective race. The key for the men’s team’s success, head coach Chris Hardie said is the small amount of time separating the team’s top five runners.
The top five all finished within one minute of each other, with Nathan Jecelin finishing first for the Jackets at 26:28, and Matt Durgin finishing fifth at 27:21.
“The best teams that Waynesburg has ever put together, usually have a very small spread,” Hardie said. “That means that you have a team that can work together during the races. It’s a vital component for what we do.”
The women’s team finished fifth out of 44 teams in their race, led by sophomore Aubrey Wingeart who finished in fourth place overall at 22:19. Hardie credited Wingeart for her hard work which has led to her extended success. Hardie believes Wingeart can even reach new heights if she continues her hard work.
“Aubrey is a very special runner,” Hardie said. “We are really blessed to work with her on a daily basis. She sets her sights high, and we try to come alongside her and give her the best training plan possible. We think that she is in the mix to qualify for the NCAA championships. But there is a lot of time from now until then, and a lot more work to put in.”
Last week, Hardie spoke about the teams’ need to make the most out of every opportunity leading up to Paul Short Run and throughout the rest of the season. Hardie believes that both teams did just that.
“I do think that the team worked extremely hard and took advantage of this opportunity,” Hardie said. “They really have only six or seven quality workouts remaining before our conference championships, so they have more work to do. But we are optimistic.”
This race was much different than others that Waynesburg has competed in this year. There were multiple races with teams spanning all levels of the NCAA. Hardie believes the size of the race, while it had its disadvantages, also helped push his teams.
“The size of the race did impact both squads,” he said. “The larger field did box a few of our runners in at the start and may have affected their time a bit. But that larger field also motivated our men and women to race harder and compete.”
Both teams will travel to the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble Oct. 19. Moving forward, Hardie is pleased with where his runners are currently and where they are going.
“We were really impressed with how hard the team fought for points this week,” Hardie said. “They were also very consistent, and that’s a good sign of the progress that this team is making.”