The Waynesburg University women’s track & field team is used to winning championships, the latest coming last season, when the Jackets took their fourth straight outdoor title, edging out Westminster.
The indoor portion of the 2018-19 season, however, wasn’t as friendly for Waynesburg, as the Jackets, who came in riding two consecutive conference championships, crashed to third place, finishing behind the Titans as well as upstart Geneva.
Now, Waynesburg and third-year coach Michelle Cross find itself in familiar territory, hoping for a better result.
“I would say we are in a very similar situation that we were last year with the difference being that we have more people and a younger team,” Cross said.
The Jackets are projected to be 15 points behind Westminster going into the championships, projected, with Geneva right behind.
A big reason for Waynesburg’s disappointing finish in 2019 was because several athletes were stretched thin, having to compete in several events. Although there are a few women that fall into that category this year, such as sophomore Aubrey Wingeart and freshman Katherine Henderson, Cross is confident that the Jackets depth is more of a strength than it was a year ago.
“Aubrey is one that we’re really stretching, and Kat Henderson we’re stretching with events,” Cross said. “But other than that, we don’t have a lot of girls that have a very big load that’s different or weird from what they’re normally used to doing.”
This will be Cross sixth PAC championships as head coach between indoor and outdoor, and all six have had at least one thing in common.
“We have never been in a meet where we weren’t 15 points from first,” she said,
Whether that was 15 points ahead of 15 points behind. So the returners are very used to being in this situation.”
Westminster is expected to obtain 29 points in pole vault, which would put the Jackets at a disadvantage.
Although nine teams are competing, all eyes will be on Waynesburg, Westminster and Geneva specifically, and all three teams have reason for motivation. Geneva has yet to win a conference championship in either cross country or track, and the cross country team fell to Waynesburg by just three points back in early November.
Despite getting the best of the Jackets in indoor track las February, Westminster will be looking for revenge on Waynesburg after not completing a sweep in the outdoor championships. championships.
“I know Geneva has to be hungry to be coming after us and wanting [a championship],” Cross said. “We’re hungry because last year Westminster got us in indoor, we came back and took them in outdoor. So it’s just like we’re in a battlefield often with Westminster, and then Geneva’s kind of had that [motivation] from cross country.”
Overall, for Cross, meets like these are what it’s all about.
“This is what I love about coaching,” she said. “This is what makes sports fun.”