By Eric Sisson
The men and women’s cross country programs have put another season in the books as they wrapped up their schedule at the NCAA South Region Championship on Nov.13.
The Mocs failed to have a team qualify for the National Championships, but head coach Bill Gautier was happy with his team’s’ progress and accomplishments during the year, especially with the women.
“The girls had a great year,” Gautier said. “I am very pleased with how the ladies ran all year. I think it was a very successful season.”
With the recent cutting of the men’s track and field program, the men are looking to regain all of the stability they can after finishing the season seventh in the Southern Conference.
Gautier sees that stability, and appreciates the commitment he has seen in All-Conference runner Paul Stuart, Brentwood, Tenn., after the senior stuck with the Mocs program despite the unfortunate events.
“The guys are very young,” Gautier said. “Paul Stuart was the leader without a doubt. Paul has been through a rough go this last year. He is a redshirt that has graduated but has a year of eligibility left.
“Paul is everything you want in a leader. He could have transferred out. A lot of schools wanted him. I told him I needed him to stay and be the leader and he did. He has done a great job.”
As for the women, the program is continuing to be as strong as it has ever been under Gautier.
The women finished at least second in three of their four regular season meets, with the only exception being the opening meet at the Belmont Opener in Nashville. The women carried their strong performances into the postseason, finishing No. 2 in the SoCon and No. 12 in the South Regional, where UTC knocked off Power-5 opponents Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
“The first meet of the year is always an eye opener,” Gautier said. “We have to start somewhere, but every meet after that, we were second. Then we finished No. 12 in the region. Anytime a program like Chattanooga can beat a high-powered program is great. We got beat by who we should have gotten beat by in Alabama, Mississippi State, Georgia and Auburn.”
2013 All-American Teghan Henderson, a senior from Pickering, Ontario, and senior Rebecca Greenwall, Bogart, Ga., led the Mocs runners this season.
After missing over a year and a half of running, Henderson finished her career out strong by picking up All-SoCon and All-Region honors and, finishing No. 13 overall in the region. Greenwall also finished out her career on the All-Conference team.
Gautier, who has now been over the program over 20 years, is confident in where the program is now, and where it is headed for the future.
“Any successful program has to have a solid foundation,” Gautier said. “We have been good for a long time and that is because when you recruit very strong, academic oriented and very successful people, then the next recruiting class is easier because each class you bring in sees what they have to live up to. The girls here have set such high standards and they help recruit. We have been very fortunate.”
*Header photo by Chattanooga Athletics