The 2019 Presidents’ Athletic Conference cross country championships are just around the corner. In this event, Waynesburg University proudly boasts of its women’s team, which has one three straight championships.
On the other side, expectations are high for the men’s team, which hopes for a top three finish Saturday in Westminster.
The spirit heading into Saturday is positive and optimistic.
“We’re excited,” junior Jordan Payne said. “We’ve been running over 160 days for one race.”
The Jackets have had an impressive season so far, finishing in the top half of teams in their meets consistently. At the Saint Vincent College Invitational, Waynesburg finished second out of nine teams. In early October, at the Lehigh Paul Short Run, the Jackets finished eleventh out of 40 schools.
Waynesburg has been led by one of its youngest runners, freshman Jac Cokley, who has been recognized by the conference several times with awards.
Alongside Cokley, Waynesburg also has the support of veterans such as Payne and fellow junior Matt Durgin to help them race at a higher level. For Hardie, the biggest strength that this team has is its consistency.
“It’s the most consistent group we’ve had in ten or eleven years here,” Hardie said. “We’re very confident going in, I still think we’re the best we can possibly do.”
Finishing in the top half of several previous races makes Hardie believe that a similar result could be in the cards Saturday.
“We are very confident in [attaining] that second and third spot,” Hardie said.
Waynesburg is familiar with the site of this year’s championships as well. Westminster College is a course at which Waynesburg has visited earlier this season.
“It’s a very flat course,” Payne said. “It’s going to be pretty windy out there. It’s going to be cold.”
The rain is likely to hold off, but with the cold and windy weather, Payne expressed that the key for everyone is to work together.
“[We need to] stick with the group and be able to go out a little faster than you might need to,” Payne said.
With the stakes of a conference title at hand, higher intensity and risk-taking is going to be needed this Saturday. This is just fine with Hardie, as risk taking is something that has been the team’s core philosophy this season Hardie said that the phrase of constant usage amongst the runners is “roll the dice.”
“We have to roll the dice Saturday,” Hardie said, “and really put ourselves in a position to compete for a conference title.”
The men’s cross country race will start at 11 Saturday in New Wilmington.