Cullowhee, N.C. – The Western Carolina cross country teams will make the trip to former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State on Friday for the season-opening Covered Bridge Open.

The women’s 5K race is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. followed by the men’s 8K race at 5:45 p.m. In addition to the Catamounts and host Appalachian State, SoCon member ETSU along with East Carolina, Florida State, High Point, Mars Hill, Spartanburg Methodist, UNC Asheville, USC Upstate are expected to compete.

We’re excited to get our season underway this week in Boone,” head coach Jesse Norman stated. “This will be a good test to see how far we’ve come since our time trial and what we’ll need to work on moving forward. The team has done a great job responding to the training thus far and I’m excited to watch them put towards a competition.”

Senior Lindsey Trotter is the top returning runner on the women’s side and will be pushed by a quintet of sophomores. Senior Shawnda Martin and junior Kayla Deaton also return along with a pair of freshmen in Lauren Esselborn and Maggie Klemm. The men’s team features seniors Isaiah Hanna, Tyler Robakiewicz, Justin Tucker, Tyler White, and Terry Young. Sophomores Fuad Hassan and Elijah Stuart return and are joined by freshmen Fletcher Bost, Andrew Edney, and Clay Summers.  

On Tuesday, the Southern Conference announced its preseason coaches’ poll. The men’s team was picked to finish in sixth place while the women’s team was picked to finish in a tie for sixth place with UNCG. Furman was chosen as the preseason favorite in both polls.

Following Friday’s meet, the Catamounts are off until Friday, Sept. 27 where the team will run at the Queen City Invitational in Charlotte.

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).