Buccaneer and Lady Buc cross-country teams will open season today at Cabell Midland

Harrison Walker (left) and Dylan Cornett (right) run a lap during a recent cross-country practice. The Bucs and Lady Bucs will start their season today at the St. Mary’s Invitational.

TENNERTON – New Buckhannon-Upshur head boys and girls cross-country coach Taylor Stacy has one goal for his two teams this season and what a lofty goal it is – to have both teams make the state championship meet.

“Our number one goal is to send both teams to states,” said Stacy. “Ever since I started working in Upshur County, I’ve heard the guy’s team say that every year. We’re working to make that a reality, but we know that won’t happen without commitment and hard work.”

Hard work is what Stacy has been putting in as he was named the head coach right at the start of the preseason, leaving him little time for a transition period.

“At first it was stressful trying to get schedules, uniforms, and other formalities situated, but the transition was smooth,” said Stacy. “I coached some of these athletes in middle school so that has helped tremendously. A lot of them already know my routine and expectations so it’s been nice having some familiarity.”

Stacy said both teams came into the preseason overall in good shape.

“Both teams came into practice with some pretty good conditioning,” stated Stacy. “Former  coaches Jim Johnson and Pam Martin did a lot to organize practices for the athletes during the summer. Some may not be where they expected to be, but our first time-trial was more than satisfactory.”

Stacy added that despite the shortened preseason, things went about as well as they could for both teams.

“Preseason went about as well as it could given the shortened amount of time we had to start preparing for races,” remarked Stacy. “From day one it was obvious that many athletes put in some miles this summer and were already pretty well in shape.”

For the Lady Bucs, if they meet Stacy’s goal of reaching the state meet, it will be nothing new for sophomore Cadence Vincent.

As a freshman, Vincent qualified for the state meet and finished 20th in the state championships last year after running a strong 10th in the regional meet.

“Vincent and Jessica Williams, alongside freshman Miah Reger, are all expected to make an impact early on,” said Stacy. Both Vincent and Willams are coming off of great freshmen years. Vincent is projected in the top 20 for the state this year, so we’re hoping to best that and get her in the top 10. Reger is showing a lot of promise early on, and we’re excited to see how the season goes for her.

“Overall for the girls, their strength lies in the young core of the team. We don’t have many upperclassmen on the girls’ side. I’m hoping this young group will stick together and help lay the foundation for our program to improve in years to come.”

For the Bucs, Stacy will turn to senior Julius Hobbs and sophomore Jordan Gillum to lead the way.

“We are depending on both runners to make a big impact for the boys’ team,” noted Stacy. “Both of them are tremendous student athletes who always lead by example. Julius has been working especially hard this summer to make his senior season one to remember. I think for the boys’ team, I would say their team chemistry is their greatest strength. All of the guys are friends in and out of school. Those strong relationships bring a lot of motivation and fun to our practices.”

Long-time track and field coach Patty Wager will assist Stacy as the assistant cross country coach this season.

Both teams will begin their season today when they compete in the St. Mary’s Invitational at Cabell Midland.

“I want to give a  big thank you to Jim Johnson and Pam Martin for all they did to lay the foundations for our program,” concluded Stacy. “I am very excited and honored to be taking over this position and to be given the opportunity to serve this community even more!”

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