BLACKSBURG – A new season is set to begin for the Hokies’ cross country teams, and both the men’s and women’s teams eye a return to familiarity. The 2021 season marks the NCAA’s return to a fall championship for cross country. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 national championships were held March 15, 2021, while the regional meet was scrapped altogether.
Last year Tech’s cross country squads only competed in three meets, hosting the Virginia Tech Invitational before racing at the University of Virginia and then contesting the ACC Championships.
At the conference meet, Antonio Lopez Segura paced the Hokies by finishing in ninth place with an 8k personal best of 23:29.3, earning All-ACC honors. On the women’s side, graduate transfer Reagan Bustamante led the way with a time of 21:04.0, finishing in 39th. The Hokies finished as a team in eighth on the men’s side and 11th in the women’s competition.
This season looks set to run quite differently for Tech’s distance specialists. Led by Head Cross Country and Distance Coach Eric Johannigmeier, the Hokies are lined up for four regular season meets and the ACC Championships, and will run for berths at the NCAA Championships when they compete at the NCAA Regionals in Lexington, Ky. on November 12.
First up, however, is the Virginia Tech Invitational when the Hokies welcome five other programs to Buford Meredith Cross Country Course. Liberty, Radford, Ferrum, Marshall, and Washington & Lee will join the Hokies in opening the 2021 season.
The women’s race will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday as athletes run 4 kilometers of the course, followed by the men’s 6k race at 6:30 p.m. Results will be provided by SnapTiming, and parking is available to all spectators at the Cage Parking Lot by the intersections of Washington Street and Duck Pond Drive.
Coach Johannigmeier sees a core group of athletes on both the men’s and women’s team return for the season following successful distance campaigns during the indoor and outdoor track & field seasons. Lindsey Butler, Hannah Ballowe, and Grace Boone look set to shine for the Hokies after their positive sophomore campaigns, while graduate student Ellie Brush brings experience and leadership to the women’s side. For the men’s group, Ben Fleming and Antonio Lopez Segura will look to set the tone for a squad with strong depth and youth, with nine freshman joining the team this fall.