EMORY, Va. - The Emory & Henry College Men's & Women's Cross Country Teams enter a new era on Thursday with the start of the 2016 season. Under the direction of Head Coach Ian Layne, the Wasps return a core group of runners on both squads who will play an instrumental role in the success of this year's teams.
On the men' side, the Wasps return four of their five top runners from a year ago. Led by junior Michael LoGrande (Alexandria, Va.), senior Alex Cooper (Christiansburg, Va.) and senior Kevin Watts (Fairfax, Va.), Emory & Henry has one of the most experienced lead packs in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference this year. LoGrande's season-best time of 27:32 at the Paul Short Run last October set the pace as Emory & Henry notched a sixth-place finish at the ODAC Championships. At the league meet, Cooper was the top runner (27:57) as the team's top five were separated by only 17 seconds.
Also expected to be major contributors this year are senior Jackson Feezell (Gastonia, N.C.), junior Buck Kirtland (Richmond, Va.), sophomore Austin Tolbert (Wytheville, Va.), and sophomore Zane Moran (Floyd, Va.).
The Emory & Henry Women experienced growing pains during 2015 with several of their top runners missing significant time due to injuries. If the squad can remain healthy this fall, the preseason pick of 10th at the ODAC Championships could be easily surpassed. Back for her senior season is Elizabeth Wilson (Roanoke, Va.), whose leadership both on the course and in the locker room will provide a strong foundation for the future of the program. Sophomore McKenna Tankersley (Big Stone Gap, Va.) is the top returner in the field with a time of 26:45 at last season's ODAC meet.
Sophomores Kayla Mulkey (Wise, Va.), Kelly Light (Blountville, Tenn.) and Taylor Henderson (Glade Spring, Va.) will be the backbone of the team this fall with a year of experience under their belts. Newcomers Erica Grupp (Charlottesville, Va.) and Michelle Gentry (Troutville, Va.) look to make strong statements in their opening seasons wearing the blue-and-gold.
Emory & Henry will open the 2016 season at the Roanoke Relays on Thursday evening.