The Waynesburg University men’s cross country team traveled to Bethany, West Virginia this past weekend to take part in the Bethany Invitational. The Jackets finished sixth out of 22 schools, edging out Presidents’ Athletic Conference foes Washington & Jefferson College,who won the conference last year and Grove City College who finished in second place in 2018.
Head coach Chris Hardie said that while a win over conference opponents is always enjoyable, his team isn’t getting too far ahead of itself.
“The men were very excited to cut the gap on W&J,” Hardie said. “We do know that there were some outside factors affecting both teams that contributed to that result, and those factors could change a lot in the next seven weeks, so they aren’t looking too far ahead.”
Waynesburg was lead by freshman Jac Cokley, who finished in 17th place overall posting a time of 27:32.
Hardie said that despite the learning curve that comes with transitioning from high school cross country to college, Cokley performed well, thanks to a solid work ethic.
“Running a collegiate 8K can be a difficult transition for a freshman. They come into college running the 5K, so they have to learn to run an additional two miles in races,” Hardie said. “Jac has handled the transition very well. We also expect him to get faster as he puts in more quality miles and his confidence increases. He is very talented and works extremely hard.”
Beyond Cokley, the Jackets posted five more scores inside the top 60 for the event, all of which came from juniors.
Matt Durgin and Nate Jecelin both finished at 28:09, Jordan Payne finished at 28:15, Mac Colomb finished at 28:20 and Kyle Warmbein finished at 29:19. Hardie noted that the nucleus of juniors is a reliable group for the team.
“That group, along with Matt Mansfield, are the core runners in our program right now,” Hardie said. “Jac has stepped right in that past few weeks and we rely heavily on [Mason] Klopp and [Jared] Scott as well,” Hardie said. “But they are certainly the runners who lead us at practice and in the big races. We expect them to grow as a unit and continue to progress as the weeks roll by. We anticipate them being at their best for the PAC Championships.”
Waynesburg will look to continue its success this season when they travel to compete in the Saint Vincent Invitational in Latrobe this Saturday.