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Running Mates: Braves’ teammates share passion, tie to UNC Pembroke history


Wilson Pearson and Nathan Pollard found success and friendship at Pinecrest High School six years ago. 

Today, the two Moore County natives continue that success running cross country for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. 

Pearson, a senior, and Pollard, a junior, have been successful running mates since their days at Pinecrest. 

The two paced the Patriots to two consecutive regional championships under Coach Michael Swofford before joining the Braves’ program. Their history of success has resulted in a tighter bond off the track. 

“We are just goofy college kids,” said Pearson. “We enjoy running together.” 

“Pearson has always been faster than me,” Pollard said. “I have been trying to chase him down.”

Their winning ways at Pinecrest have carried over to UNC Pembroke. 

“Having athletes who had won at the conference and regional level and have that drive to win instilled in them like Pearson and Pollard achieved in high school - I have enjoyed the foundation of strong work ethic and the understanding of what it takes to continue to be successful at the highest levels,” said Dr. Peter Ormsby, Braves’ Cross Country Head Coach. 

Attending UNC Pembroke was an easy decision for both runners. Being close to home was a bonus, but the success of the program was the draw. 

“Knowing Coach Moody’s story helped to push me to look at Pembroke,” Pearson said. “It was when I came here and learned more about the school and the program that I knew I wanted to come here.” 

“I was influenced by the small school atmosphere and that I had friends like Pearson here,” added Pollard. “I realized that Coach Moody was fast, but I had no idea how much of a legend Coach Moody was until I stepped on campus.” 

They are referring to Braves alum Jeff Moody, ‘79, a member of the 1978 National Championship team for what was then Pembroke State University, who coached at Pinecrest and was recently named the Cross Country Head Coach at Sandhills Community College. 

Moody earned two individual national championship honors while attending Pembroke.

The same mindset that made Moody a champion in the 1970s carried over into his coaching career. That winning attitude continues to resonate with the program today. 

“The championship mentality that we developed at Pinecrest,” said Pearson, “has continued to build here; and Coach Moody will start developing runners at Sandhills (Community College) to get them ready for this level. It would be great to work with him in that development.” 

The friends continue to strengthen their bond through the sport. They mapped out a 16-mile loop around the outskirts of Pembroke that they affectionately call “The Death Loop” that they use to train in the off season when they’re not running the reservoir in Moore County. 

“You cannot quit once you start,” Pollard said. 

Wilson Pearson and Nathan Pollard do not have any desire to stop winning. They do not know what the future holds after they graduate from UNC Pembroke. 

Right now they are just enjoying beingrunning mates.
UNC Pembroke is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. For more information, contact Jodi Phelps, executive director of University Communications and Marketing, via email ( or by phone (910.521.6863). Connect with UNC Pembroke on social media or online at to learn how the university is changing lives through education.