Cross Country opens 2019 season Friday in Boone
Cross Country opens 2019 season Friday in Boone
Thursday, August 29, 2019

BOONE, N.C. (Aug. 29, 2019) -- The ETSU men’s and women’s cross country teams open the 2019 season this Friday as the Buccaneers head to Boone, N.C. to compete in the Covered Bridge Open. The women’s race will begin at 5 p.m. and the men will follow at 5:45 from the Don Kennedy Trails.

“We are looking forward to our first meet of the season,” said ETSU cross country head coach George Watts. “We will likely hold out several runners this weekend and take a lower key approach than normal on this year's first race. Cross Country is one of those sports where a team is remembered for what they do in November. Although, every meet is important and we do take all of them seriously, we need to be at our very best when we host the Southern Conference Championships on November 2.” 

The Bucs are one of 10 teams participating on Friday. Joining ETSU and host Appalachian State are Florida State, East Carolina, Western Carolina, UNC Asheville, High Point, USC Upstate, Mars Hill and Spartanburg Methodist.

The Buccaneer men, who enter the season opener ranked No. 9 in the South Region, were picked to finish second in the SoCon Preseason Coaches Poll. ETSU returns an experienced group with its top five runners from last year’s conference meet where the Blue and Gold finished runner-up. Of that group, three earned all-SoCon honors and one received an all-freshman team nod.

Junior Ben Varghese (Kingsport, Tenn.) finished second at last season’s SoCon Championship and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Fellow local  product Noah Charles (Johnson City, Tenn.) returns for a redshirt junior season after picking up second team all-SoCon honors, while also representing the Bucs in the NCAA East Regional this past May in the 3000m steeplechase. Matt Scarr (Wambersal, NSW, Australia) also earned second team all-conference honors a year ago with the Buccaneer junior placing 14th overall at the SoCon Championships. 

On the women’s side, the Bucs’ roster features 16 runners, including junior Lindsay Stallworth (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Shila Kapaya (Knoxville, Tenn.). The Knoxville duo earned SoCon honors in 2018 with Stallworth landing a spot on the first team all-conference list and Kapaya became just the third Buccaneer runner to receive SoCon Freshman of the Year honors. Like the men, the Buccaneer women also return their top five runners from last year’s conference championship with sophomore Genevieve Schwarz (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) joining Kapaya on the all-SoCon freshman team. 

Both the men and women placed third at this meet last season with Varghese placing third in 25:22.60, while Stallworth finished 16th at 18:14.79 in the 5K run. 

Friday marks the first of four meets before ETSU hosts the Southern Conference Championships at Pine Oaks Golf Course on November 2. 

Follow ETSU cross country on Twitter @ETSU_TF_XC. For more information on Buccaneer men’s and women’s cross country, visit ETSUBucs.com.