Women’s cross country looks to repeat as PAC Champions

A possible four-peat can be in the Waynesburg University women’s cross country team’s future.

After winning the past three Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships, the Yellow Jackets were tabbed as the favorites once again  in the annual PAC preseason coaches’ poll.

The Yellow Jackets collected seven of the nine first-place votes, which gives them 71 total points to secure the top spot.

Grove City College was picked to finish second with 65 points.

For the constant success, head coach Chris Hardie gives credit to the leadership that is on the team. 

“What is important to our program is leadership,” Hardie said. “If we can take care of the day to day business by being good leaders and teammates. It will help set a successful foundation for the future.”

Along with leadership and talent, the work ethic on the team also contributes to the success over the years. 

“We are trying to bring in the top freshman in the conference every year and if that stays the same, we will be competitive,” he said. “From the competitiveness on the team against the conference and within themselves pushes them to be better and that’s our equation we use to be successful.”

For the team, the coaches’ poll is motivation according to junior Becca Volz. 

“Being preseason number one is a big motivator for us as a team,” said Volz. “Looking back on last year’s results between first and second place and how close they were humbled us and is driving us to work harder in practices.” 

Last season Volz battled injuries, but managed to finish strong at the end of the season placing 14th at the PAC Championship. Volz hopes to be healthy enough to reach her full potential as a junior. 

“Last season was a struggle because of all the injuries,” she said. “My overall goal is to stay healthy and strong for the team.”

The five returning All-PAC runners, along with incoming freshman, hope to continue the success. Key returners include sophomores Aubrey Wingeart and Gloria Reed, who placed third and fourth at last year’s PAC championships, along with juniors such as Volz, Gianna Pugliano and Nicole Shelton. 

Predicted to four-peat, Hardie has confidence in the team that they can win again, but said “it’s too early to tell.” 

“We certainly will be competitive and fight for the conference title,” Hardie said. “There are too many variables to see where we will finish right now. We have one of the deepest teams we have ever had and that will play into our favor.”

Volz agrees with Hardie that the team will be competitive for the PAC championship title. 

“I think we are going to stack up well against the other PAC schools after last year being really close,” Volz said. “We have some freshman coming in that have really shown how hard they have worked and I think they can help us win.”

The Yellow Jackets will begin their season Aug. 30 at the Westminster Fisher Invitational in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.