The Waynesburg University cross-country team has built a successful reputation for its program over the years and the centerpiece for the success is the atmosphere and the certain strategies the team has built.
“Pacing and pack running go hand in hand for us,” head coach Chris Hardie said. “That has been our formula for us.”
The other part of the centerpiece came from five years ago, when the team turned the corner on how competitive they were with each other and kept that fierce competition.”
Assistant coach Michelle Cross believes the culture the women have built in the team has been essential to its success.
“I think the women themselves have built a culture that breeds champions,” Cross said. “They are good about the little things for example sleep, nutrition and stretching and that is important if you want to win.”
The Yellow Jackets traveled to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania last weekend to compete in the Lock Haven University Cross Country Invitational.
Waynesburg finished 12th out of 37 total teams scoring 339 points. The meet included teams from the Division I, II and III levels.
West Virginia University won the meet taking the top six finishes and scoring 15 team points.
Going into this race Hardie wanted the team to come out strong against stiff competition
“We knew it was going to be a big talented field,” Hardie said. “We urged everyone to push their opening pace through the first mile and to stick in groups.”
Cross wanted to make sure the runners kept their composure throughout the race.
“In a large meet like this the adrenaline runs high and the pace goes out fast,” Cross said. “We really just emphasized that they needed to feel strong and calm at the mile and to remain focus throughout the race.”
Sophomore Aubrey Wingeart was the Jackets top runner, placing 18th with a time of 22:05.1.
Wingeart, who stood out as a freshman last fall, has continued to run well for the Jackets this season and Hardie has high praise for the sophomore.
“Wingeart has been putting on a really good season and the future is looking bright for her,” Hardie said. “At the meet she was the third Division III runner to finish which is very impressive.”
Junior Becca Volz was the next Jacket to cross the line coming in 49th with a time of 23:03.6.
Finishing off the Waynesburg’s top seven scorers were junior Nichole Shelton placing 62nd with a time of 23:21.5, Sophomores Gloria Reed and Monica Kolencik placing 101st and 126th with times of 24:11.6 and 24:32.2, and Junior Gianna Pugliano and freshman Madelyn Verhoff, who rounded out the top seven for the Jackets finishing with times of 24:37.6 and 25:12.9.
Hardie was pleased with his teams showing at Lock Haven.
“I am happy with how the team performed,” Hardie said. “Almost coming in the top ten at this kind of meet is impressive to us.”
The Yellow Jackets are back in action Saturday Oct. 5 when they compete in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University.
Hardie said the team needs to improve on how their top five run together.
“Our spread is a little too high right now and we have to get our runners working better together and to keep pushing forward,” Hardie said.