PHSC's women's cross country program was created in 2005 and became the first cross country program in the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA). Since the inaugural season, six other FCSAA programs have joined this growing sport. Under the direction of head coach, Jacki Wachtel, PHSC consistently ranks nationally in the top twenty-five and has won the NJCAA Region VIII cross country championship in 2016 and 2017.
About the Coach
Jacki Wachtel started the PHSC women’s cross country program in 2005. In twelve seasons at the helm, Wachtel has led the Bobcats to the national stage, ranking 13th at the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Cross Country meet held at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. In 2017 the team won the Inaugural Florida College System Activities Association/National Junior College Athletic Association (FCSAA/NJCAA) Region 8 Women’s Cross Country Championship in Tallahassee. Prior performances include: 23rd (2008), 22nd (2009), 21st (2010), and 13th (2011) at the national meet.
Wachtel has observed two of her runners achieve All-American status; PHSC student athlete Kayla Bratcher earned the honor at the Half Marathon National meet in 2011; Samantha Greenlee became a two-time All American in 2012 through her success in the Half Marathon National meet and the 5K NJCAA National Cross Country meet.
Wachtel graduated from River Ridge High School in 1997, having achieved high school state championship status for the 3,200 meter (two mile) race. She continued her running endeavors on a cross-country/track scholarship to Ohio University where she spent 12 seasons on the cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams. After earning her bachelor’s in secondary education from O.U. in 2001, Wachtel returned to the Tampa Bay area and earned her Masters of Science in biostatistics from the University of South Florida.
Prior to signing on as head coach at PHSC, Wachtel spent two years as head coach for the boy’s track team and the boy/girl cross country team at J. W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla. From 2002 to 2008, Wachtel was a math instructor at the high school as well. She continues to teach at the high school level at Pasco eSchool.
Wachtel is currently an adjunct math instructor at PHSC. She continues to compete in races, most recently taking second place in the female division of the 2016 Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k with a blistering time of 56:56 at a pace of 6:06 per mile. She finished first in the female overall category in the 2013 5 Mile RAP River Run in New Port Richey, Fla. and the 2012 Turkey Trot 10K in Clearwater.