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The Highlanders men’s and women’s cross country teams were supposed to kick off their season at the Hokie Invite at Virginia Tech, September 5, but that event was canceled due to inclement weather earlier in the day. Coach Mackenzie Wartenberger has high hopes for both teams this year.
Regarding the men’s team, Wartenberger says “Our men’s team is young, but I believe that with our strong returning leadership those men can race beyond their years.” There are nine newcomers joining the team, and coach Wertenberger predicts freshman Brady Guertin will make a big impact on the team, even though he is young. Junior Chaz Porter has been working extremely hard in the off season and coach Wertenberger can’t wait to see what he has in store for the team this year.
On the women’s team there are three returning seniors: Teresa Williamson, Madeline Thomas and Katie Hickey, who set up avery powerful foundation for the team. Hickey is returning for her fifth year on the team after overcoming a condition in her legs known as Compartment Syndrome. She will be returning to the team aiming to hold her spot as the No. 2 runner on the team. Coach Wertenberger is very optimistic about Hickey’s season, saying “it’s going to be a really special one” and adds that both teams are extremely motivated, strong and hungry to show their opponents that they are definitely not a team to be overlooked.
After the canceled race in Blacksburg, the teams head to conference opponent Gardner Webb for a preview race. From there they travel to Kentucky and Mechanicsville, Va. with a few local meets between before finalizing their Big South Conference teams. The conference championship will be held on Nov. 1 in Boiling Springs, N.C. where the teams are projected to have a fantastic showing, and then the season ends with the NCAA SE Regional meet held in mid-November.