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Petrelli named Cougar cross country coach

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FREEPORT —Tapped by Highland Community College to coach their new NJCAA men’s and women’s cross-country program, Brittany Petrelli embraces her place at the starting line.

“I ran cross country in high school, and I really missed the team aspect of the sport,” said Petrelli, who has worked as a Highland nursing instructor for two years. “It’s an excellent complement to a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Highland will launch men’s and women’s cross-country with their Fall 2021 academic year. Coach Petrelli is eager to start recruiting athletes for the Fall season, with practices slated to begin in August. She will immediately reach out to interested potential runners, high school cross country coaches, and athletic directors to spread the word and scouting area courses and competitions.

“We probably won’t host in our first season, but my goal is that we compete in at least five races, hopefully, more,” she said.

Cross country running is unique because it relies on natural terrain, which the Highland campus offers. Petrelli noted runners enjoy team bonding and individualized goal-setting, which can also aid in academic skills.

The addition of the men’s and women’s cross-country programs makes for an even 10 Cougar athletic teams. Petrelli predicts it will prove appealing for experienced runners and first-timers.

“Even athletes who are new to this style of racing or simply looking to round out their conditioning program will find a place here and perhaps discover new friendships or an athletic passion in the process,” Petrelli said.

Pete Norman, Highland Athletic Director, first announced plans to add cross country last November. He is glad to have Petrelli on board for the new coaching role.

“As a nursing instructor, Brittany is already a familiar face around campus. Her health and education background, combined with her cross-country passion and experience, make her a natural fit for this job,” Normal said. “I’m excited to have her join our team of coaches here at Highland.”

For more information about Highland’s new cross-country program, contact Coach Petrelli at or Pete Norman at To get registered for the fall semester, call 815-235-6121 or go to