Cross country kicks off the season with only home meet

The season-opening UAA Invitational, which is the only home meet of the season for Seawolf cross-country, is set to be held on the familiar trails of Kincaid Park.

The competition will be between UAA and the Abilene Christian University Wildcats. ACU, from Abilene, Tex., will be the only visiting school making up the field for this small meet for the season opener.

“This is usually a small meet,” Michael Friess, head cross country coach, said, “but one that we would eventually like to build on.”

The Seawolves feel strong and ready coming into the season.

Through the early practices “there have been surprises and disappointments like always, but we have a solid squad,” Friess said. “The men will be more challenged this year because they have a smaller team.”

Despite the size of the team, there are some talented runners on both the men’s and women’s rosters.

The women’s team is a bit younger this year, but is still a strong team, making up for a lack of experience with raw talent. The Seawolves plan to use a small number of runners at this meet as a way to get a feel for how the roster will play out.

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“We’re about two and a half months away from when we want to be really fast,” Friess said.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked third in the Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Western region preseason poll for 2009.

Abilene Christian University is a strong force on their home turf. They have taken first place in the Lone Star conference for the past 18 seasons; this year, the men are picked to finish first and women are picked to claim the third place slot in preseason polling.

Last year the women claimed their first conference title.

ACU Head Coach Sam Burroughs said he’s “very pleased with how recruiting went this year,” and that through training a lot of his returners have made improvements.

“I’d say we have a better team this year than last,” Burroughs said.

Though excited about new recruits and transfers Burroughs said the Wildcats will also use a minimum of runners at this meet.

The wildcats are looking forward to the chance to run in the cooler weather according to coach Burroughs.

“It’ll be similar to what the weather will be like a couple of months down the road at the championships.”

Cooler weather is something they don’t see much of this time of year in Texas, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees on average.

The meet is set to get under way on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 9 a.m. and is slated to be 5 kilometers.