Jackets Cross Country takes their marks

The Womens Cross Country team takes a team photo together after finishing up a race. The team plans to improve on last year’s season, and has high hopes for both the ACC Championships and NCAA South Regionals. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

Tech cross-country’s six-meet regular season is set to begin on Sept. 1 at the Berry XC Opener in Mount Berry, GA. The schedule was announced on Aug. 1, with the Jackets scheduled for three local and three out-of-region meets. On Sept. 16, Tech will travel to Huntsville, AL for the North Alabama Invitational. The team is then set to compete in a split weekend, with the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, PA on Sept. 30 and the Alexander Asics Invitational on Oct. 1 in Fairburn, GA. The end of the regular season will also be a split weekend, with the Penn State National Open on Oct. 14 in University Park, PA — which recent Tech graduate Nicole Fegans won last year — and the Berry Invitational on Oct. 15 in Mount Berry, GA. 

The Jackets plan to field their strongest runners for the postseason, with a return to the ACC Championships coming on Oct. 28 in Earlysville, VA and the NCAA South Regional on Nov. 11, once again being hosted in Huntsville, AL. The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on Nov. 19 in Stillwater, OK. 

The Jackets’ 2021 season came to a disappointing end at the NCAA South Regionals, hosted in Huntsville, AL, where the men’s team placed 13th and the women’s placed ninth. Multiple runners placed in the top 50, with Fegans placing 11th overall and earning her second All-South Region Honors. Despite some great individual performances, no one from Tech qualified for the NCAA Championships. The women’s team qualified in the 2020-2021 season and had the best overall team finish in Tech’s history. The men’s team has yet to qualify. 

Six women and five men from the team graduated in the spring, including Fegans, who set multiple school and ACC records throughout her career. Still, many notable runners are returning for this season, including Liz Galarza and Sarah Copeland for women’s and James Cragin for men’s. 

Galarza has accumulated multiple top-ten finishes and ACC awards throughout her career, being a consistent top performer on the team and will be entering her fifth season with the Jackets. Cragin is also entering his fifth season with the Jackets and has led the men’s team in multiple races, winning last season’s Kennesaw State XC Opener and running PRs in last season’s final two meets.  

Copeland was awarded ACC Women’s Co-Freshman of the Week three times last season and placed first at last season’s Alexander Asics Invitational, showing a very strong start in her career and solidifying her as a runner to watch this season.