Cullowhee, N.C. – After a summer of individual training, members of the Western Carolina cross country teams began their pursuit of a Southern Conference title on Tuesday as the team held its first practice of the season. It also marked the first cross country practice with former Catamount student-athlete and SoCon individual champion Jesse Norman as head coach after he returned to Cullowhee in January as the head coach of the cross country/track and field programs.

The Catamounts opened practice Tuesday morning with a distance run before working on strength training in the afternoon. A time trial is scheduled for Wednesday evening as the team will be broken up into two groups before a morning and afternoon practice on Thursday. The week concludes with long runs on Friday and Saturday.

“The biggest thing we’re looking for this week is the opportunity to teach,” Norman explained. “We’re teaching different warmups, 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.”

The men’s team has a wide range of experience and inexperience as five seniors and two sophomores join a trio of freshmen. On the women’s side, seven returnees are joined by two freshmen. Seniors Isaiah Hanna and Lindsey Trotter are the top returnees based on results from the 2018 SoCon Championship.

Western Carolina is slated to open the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30. The full schedule will be announced in the coming days.

Keep track of everything related to Catamount cross country and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook ( and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).