Finishing third overall in the Big 12 Championship last year, the WVU women’s cross country team is expecting to have another big season. Head coach Sean Cleary, entering his 10th season with the Mountaineers, and assistant coach Erin O’Reilly, entering her 4th season, helped lead the team to place top five in each meet last year.

Runners to watch for this season include seniors, Briana Kerekes, Megan Yuan; and juniors, Amy Cashin, Maggie Drazba, Jillian Forsey, and Brynn Harshbarger.

Drazba finished first for the Mountaineers and 19th overall in the Big 12 Championship last season. Cashin finished top five with a time of 17:57.21 at the Greater Louisville Classic.

Seven runners were also named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, showing the team’s success both inside and outside the classroom.

“We are excited to see what the season brings us,” Cleary said. “We have had a nice summer block of training, and the atmosphere seems very positive. I expect a very good season.”

The Mountaineers will have a challenge facing the reigning Big 12 Champions, Oklahoma State. OSU scored 32 points in the previous Big 12 Championship and was named the top ranked cross country program in the Midwest region in the United States.

Another team to watch out for is Iowa State who took second place at the Big 12 Championship last season.

As always, Penn State, who ranked #1 in the preseason regional rankings, won’t be an easy competitor at the Penn State National meet hosted at State College, PA in October.

WVU enters as the #No. 7 ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic Region preseason regional rankings. The Mountaineers made it to the Elite 8, Top 10 and Top 25 back in 2014, and expects to make an appearance again this season.

“I have a very good feeling that we are a team capable of sneaking back into the NCAA finals,” Cleary said. “We have the ability to run with the nation’s elite-we plan to do so.”

The team opened up at home Thursday, September 1st, with the WVU Alumni Open, a fun season opener where the current team races against WVU alumni. It will open the regular season in Lubbock, Texas at the Texas Tech Invitational on September 8.

“While every meet has its place, we are training and focusing towards a few meets in October, but most especially the Big 12 and NCAA Regionals,” Cleary said.