LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The Aggie men's and women's cross country teams open their seasons this Saturday, Sept. 4 at the University of New Mexico's Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque.
The 8K men's race begins at 9:45 a.m. followed by the 5K women's at 10:15 at UNM's North Golf Course.
The Aggie women will begin defense of their 2009 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title when twin sisters Courtney and Camille Schultz paced the conference field across the line finishing first and second, respectfully, as freshmen. The men's team will look to improve upon its fourth-place WAC finish last year. Ian Ruybalid returns to lead the NM State men after placing eighth at the conference meet last season as a sophomore.
"Our goal is to win the WAC in men's and women's cross country," head coach Orin Richburg said. "We have four of our top six girls returning from a team that won the WAC and all of our top men returning from a team that finished fourth."
NM State is ranked ninth for the upcoming season in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mountain Region poll for the women's team and No. 12 on the men's side. The Aggies will go up against some stiff competition this weekend running against rivals New Mexico and UTEP. Both teams are ranked ahead of NM State in the Mountain Region on both sides. Both UNM squads and the UTEP women are also ranked nationally with the UNM men coming in at No.14 and UNM women No. 18, while the UTEP women are ranked No. 19 nationally.
"We're really excited about the men's and women's teams this year," assistant coach Meaghan Harkins said. "We want to start the season off on the right foot this weekend and I'm confident we can hold our own against strong competition."
This weekend is also a homecoming of sorts for the cross country squads, as there 13 members from Albuquerque and nine more from the surrounding areas.
"It's nice to go up to Albuquerque to compete because we have so many students from that area," assistant coach Paul Harkins said.