Cross country Bucs, Lady Bucs have high hopes for 2021 season

Members of the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneer and Lady Buc cross country teams hold a practice on the track at Freal “Red” Crites Stadium last Friday. Head coach Taylor Stacy welcomed 27 runners to his preseason practices. Both teams will open their season next Tuesday at University High School.

TENNERTON –Buckhannon-Upshur cross country head coach Taylor Stacy has found the sailing much smoother this year in his second season of overseeing the program.

Last season, he was hired just prior to the campaign getting started in the middle of a pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers, Stacy has been able to get his legs under him for the start of the 2021 season.

“Getting started has definitely been easier this year,” stated Stacy. “I've had a lot more time to plan ahead in order to get ready for the season. I also built a good relationship with the team last year and that has helped the season start a lot smoother with them being familiar with my expectations.”

Stacy welcomed 27 runners to practice this preseason.

“Our preseason has been excellent so far,” remarked Stacy. “We've got 27 athletes out this year and they're just about equal in numbers for boys and girls. These first few weeks have shown a lot of promise. The team has gone through some real quality workouts recently and they've responded to the challenge well. Things are looking great just a week out from our first race.”

On the boys’ side, Stacy has a strong nucleus to build upon.

“We've got a great returning crew of Jordan Gillum, Reis Leonard, and Logan Wyatt,” noted Stacy. “Jordan led the boys last year and he's in really good form right now. We've also got the addition of freshman Jack Waggy. Jack ran middle school track for me and I'm confident he'll make a big impact once he gets adjusted to the 5k distance. I think for the boys, their competitiveness is their biggest strength. They do a really good job of competing against one another in workouts while at the same time motivating one another to be better. We've talked a lot about accountability and how we have to hold our teammates up. These guys have taken that to heart and put into practice.”

On the girls’ side, Stacy lost state-meet runner Cadence Vincent who is going to focus solely on swimming, but Stacy said that opens up another opportunity for the team.

“We're really excited to have Alayna Whitehair returning this year after she sat out a year due to a broken foot,” said Stacy. “We've got Miah Reger and Jessica Williams leading the junior class and we have a first year runner in sophomore Mia Sappey who has looked really strong. Lastly, we've got the freshmen Samantha Shreve and Pressley Bowers. All of these girls are neck and neck right now. They're a solid group altogether. I'd say their comradery is their biggest strength. All the girls on our team click really well with one another and that shows in the way they practice. Our girls do great at grouping up during their runs and workouts. Rarely do you ever see one of them running on their own. We've got a really young core and they'll accomplish great things if they stick together.”

Stacy said both teams came into the preseason is very good shape.

“Both teams came into the season with great conditioning,” remarked Stacy. “We focused a lot this summer on building our mileage up to about 50 miles a week for the boys and 30-40 for the girls. Having that solid base of mileage will allow us to focus more on speed later in the season. Our fitness levels are "miles" ahead of where they were this time last year.”

Stacy said the team goals will remain the same and that is sending both teams to the state meet.

“Our goals always remain the same and that is to send both of our teams to the state meet,” concluded Stacy. “It's been a little over 20 years since Buckhannon-Upshur last had a team running at states. We've got some really tough competition in our region, but we don't let that change the way we practice or anything. I've challenged the team to develop the mentality of coming to practice every day ready to get better and they've started to embrace that idea. I'm confident that if we can commit ourselves to pushing one another to be the best we can be then the results we desire will follow.”

Both teams will open their season next Tuesday at University High School.

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