One legacy will begin after one legacy ends when the North Carolina cross country team hosts the ACC Championships on Saturday.
Senior All-American Brie Felnagle will compete in her final cross country ACC Championship when the women take their places on the starting line Saturday morning.
But Saturday will have a different feel for sophomore Evan Watchempino.
""For me" individually it's pretty much my first big college test the UCLA transfer said.
That's because this time last year the California native was not even racing — instead trying to escape a program that he said made him feel disrespected.
It was only four weeks into the semester before Watchempino decided he made the wrong choice in following his high school classmates to UCLA.
I looked and was like" ‘I need to get out of here before my career gets going.'""
One of the schools that interested Watchempino was UNC — a school he admired in high school but never pursued.
But he was not going to let that happen again.
He contacted head coach Michael Whittlesey personally last fall and visited Chapel Hill in February. And the transfer has not disappointed.
""Evan has been great"" senior Brock Baker said. (He) has really sort of helped to transform the culture that we have here and to sort of bring that expectation of success to the rest of the guys on the team.""
Watchempino said he is now at full health after an early season calf strain and hopes that will translate to success in his first ACC Championships.
Felnagle" meanwhile" is familiar with success at the highest level.
She has finished first on her team at every ACC Championships she has competed in and has earned All-ACC honors every year of her UNC career.
That success is not lost on her teammates.
""Our team has confidence that we're led by the No. 1 runner in the country" co-captain Morgan Stengel said. At the same time" she's an incredible team player and that just exudes confidence and energy throughout the whole team.""
That mentality is evident when talking to the senior.
""It's sad that it's ending" she said of her career. Cross country even if I run past college" is never cross country — it's not the same team atmosphere ever again.""
But Felnagle is looking forward to Saturday as she and her teammates will compete for the conference title on their home course.
And Whittlesey believes they have all the talent to be successful.
""They just have to believe in themselves and be ready to go" he said.
He expressed the same confidence in the men after a top finish at Appalachian State on Oct. 17.
If they run with confidence execute like we did at the Appalachian State meet then the outcome's going to come from that" he said. And we're very confident in them doing that.""
And if that happens" one legacy will begin where one legacy ends — on a high note.
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