Western Carolina’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will start their seasons Friday in the Covered Bridge Open hosted by Appalachian State.

The Southern Conference Meet is set for Nov. 2 at East Tennessee.

“I’m excited about the upcoming meet schedule and the events we have on tap for the fall semester,” said Jesse Norman, who is starting his first season as coach. “I feel that this schedule will give us a good balance of high-quality meets and fast courses. This schedule is set up to put us in position to be competitive at the Southern Conference championships in early November.”

WCU’s men and women both placed sixth in last year’s league meet.

“The biggest thing we’re looking for is the opportunity to teach,” Norman said of preseason practice. “We’re teaching different warm-ups, different general strength and core routines, hurdle mobility and how we build our process of trying to get them better. We’re splitting the day up into two-a-days with a bigger morning run and then in the afternoon we’re working on different drills and different expectations.”

Senior Lindsey Trotter is the top returnee for the women after finishing 24th at last year’s conference meet. Also back are sophomores Jamie Blaylock, who was 51st, and Siena Gates, who was 64th.

Senior Isaiah Hanna is the leading returnee for the men. He was 40th in the conference meet last season. Fellow senior Tyler Robakiewicz was 45th. 

The schedule is as follows:

Aug. 30. – Covered Bridge Open at Appalachian State.

Sept. 27 – Queen City Invitational at Charlotte.

Oct. 18 – Pirate Invitational at East Carolina.

Nov. 2 – Southern Conference Meet at East Tennessee.