Hotchkin’s old team is looking pretty green at the start of this season, with 16 newcomers on a roster of 29.The Buffs opened the schedule last weekend with a couple of lopsided losses at a tournament in Lawrenceville, Ga. They were beaten 4-1 by Auburn-Montgomery and 3-0 by Georgia Gwinnett College.“We had a weekend where we took some knocks,” said Laney, the coach. “Hopefully we learned what we needed to learn, against two pretty good teams. Given how new we are, it’s one of those things where you can’t be shocked by the results.”The Buffs will host VI on Wednesday in that game with the jersey auction afterward. They are the two-time defending regular-season champs in the Appalachian Athletic Conference and, despite returning just three starters, were picked third this preseason, behind Tennessee Wesleyan and Bryan.“We’re trying to create a personality and build around controllable things like work ethic, attitude, tactics and maturity off the field,” said Laney. “We had a team meeting yesterday and our assistant coach made the point that we lost our first match last season 4-0. We turned around and won the conference and did some great things.”
The women’s team is battling injuries and opened its season with a 1-1 tie Tuesday night at home against Southern Wesleyan. Teagan Wood, a junior from Kingsport, scored the lone goal for the Lady Buffs. “We’ve got a lot of injuries, three or four starters out with just nagging stuff,” said Buckley. “I came into the season knowing I had depth and challenging myself to use that depth. Now I get to.”The team plays today at USC-Beaufort and Saturday at Savannah College of Arts and Design. They’ll host Virginia Intermont on Sept. 5.The Lady Buffs were picked fourth in the AAC preseason poll. They haven’t finished lower than third in Buckley’s five previous seasons as head coach.“We have a lot of new faces. I think we had six new ones on the field for the first game,” said Buckley. “It may just take awhile.”———The women’s cross country team has won 10 straight conference championships and been a fixture at the NAIA national meet. Things don’t shape up much different this year.The Lady Buffs are ranked 19th in the NAIA preseason poll, which is right where they finished last season. Three of the runners from that team have returned for coach Chris Layne, including senior Natalia Rivas, junior Mackenzie Patten and sophomore Meagan Wright.Rivas, who ran at University High, finished 16th in the NAIA marathon last spring.“I’m excited about the talent and leadership returning,” said Layne, “but we’ll definitely need to see a few new faces step up … if we’re going to do the things we want to do.”The season opens Sept. 7 with the inaugural Buffalo Valley Cross Country Stampede on the Buffalo Valley golf course in Unicoi. Milligan is the host of that event.———The school will also host a volleyball tournament this weekend –Milligan Mountain Madness at Lacy Fieldhouse. It’s a two-day event with St. Catherine’s, Bryan, Emmanuel and Southern Wesleyan.Milligan will open against St. Catherine’s today at 3.The Buffs are still looking for their first win of the young season. They lost three matches on a Florida trip last week.