In the Presidents’ Athletic Conference preseason poll, the Waynesburg University men’s cross-country team was projected to finish fifth overall. However, the Jackets goal was to finish in the top three at Saturday’s PAC Championships, and despite some frustration along the way, Waynesburg accomplished that goal.
“I think they ran really well,” coach Chris Hardie said. “We had a couple of spots that we probably could have made a better move so that we could have placed in second, but whenever I looked at the team score I realized that Washington & Jefferson really ran well.”
The top three teams in order were St. Vincent, with 25 points, Washington & Jefferson with 46 and then Waynesburg with 70. For Waynesburg, junior Jordan Payne was first to cross the finish line placing eighth overall. He finished with a time of 27:33.44. Despite a top 10 finish, Payne saw his performance as lukewarm.
“It was ok,” Payne said. “It was as muddy as can be out there compared to whenever we ran here at the beginning of the season,” Payne said. “I thought I did ok. I should have beat the one Grove City kid to make top seven, then team wise we could have done better.”
Despite Payne’s slight frustration, Hardie was pleased with how the junior ran.
“Jordan continues to progress each and every week and year,” Hardie said. “This is the time of year he really picks it up. He is a gamer for us and we always expect him to do really well in big races and he did that again today.”
The conditions were muddy according to Payne, Hardie, and freshman Jac Cokley. Within the first mile of the race Cokley said he slipped and tweaked his knee. He however continued to run with the sore knee.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but he twisted his knee,” Hardie said. “So, he definitely worked hard to fight through that. He showed some grit today and that is all we can ask for.”
Cokley finished in 11th place overall with a time of 27:57.92.
“He will probably come back strong for regionals and climb up the chain as we progress in the weeks here,” Hardie said.
Cokley thinks that the team could have performed better overall even though they finished in third place. Despite the muddy conditions, he believes that it had to do with a lack of confidence.
“We need to come in more confident,” Cokley said. “We still have to be willing to put it all out and be willing to play overall and no matter what the conditions or what [projections] are it’s not set in stone until the race is over.”
Cokley also gave credit to both St. Vincent and W&J for running good races.
“St.Vincent [runners] went one through four they really came out to race today and W&J did the same thing,” Cokley said. “So, I think with that we came out and did the best we could compared to how they were doing.”
The team now has two weeks to prepare for regionals in Lehigh, Pennsylvania.
“For regionals Lehig,h has a really nice course it’s really fun to run [there],” Payne said. “I think it will be a good end to the season.”