Utah State men and women's cross-country teams will open the 2012 season Saturday by holding the Aggie Invitational at the newly developed home course, the Innovation Campus Wellness Park. The course is located at 1498 North 800 East in Logan.
Teams from BYU, Weber State, Utah and UVU will compete with USU during the invitational. Action kicks off at 9 a.m. (MT) with the men's collegiate four-mile race followed by the collegiate women's five-kilometer race at 9:30. Several high school teams will also compete on the new course at the conclusion of the collegiate races.
"It is nice to have a home course close to campus and to not have to worry about all the other things," USU vhead coach Gregg Gensel said. "We are young and pretty unfamiliar with the course because we haven't had a chance to really run on it yet. So, it will be a learning experience, but our expectations are to see where we are at and then plan accordingly after the race. It is exciting to have your home course and know that you can come and run here anytime you need to, so I think it will be really good."
The Aggie men won their sixth Western Athletic Conference Cross-Country Championship in the last seven years at the 2011 WAC Championships. USU men will return four athletes from last year's championship team, including junior Kyle McKenna, who was named first-team all-WAC after placing fifth at the 2011 WAC Championships. Other USU men returning from a year ago include seniors Aaron Clements and David Cluff, along with sophomore Eric Shellhorn.
Utah State's women's cross-country team finished third at the 2011 WAC Championships. USU women return six athletes from last season including senior Ruth Hilton, who earned second-team all-WAC honors in 2011 and first-team all-WAC honors in 2010. Junior Kaylee Campbell and sophomore Brittany Bushman also return after garnering second-team all-WAC accolades in 2011. Campbell also earned second-team all-WAC honors in 2010. Other Aggie women returning this season are junior Hannah Williams, senior Alex Litzsinger and sophomores AnnaLina Andersen and Tessa Brown.
USU previously held its home meets at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah. The new course will help facilitate the athletes with better training at a closer distance to the university campus and other athletic facilities.
For more information on the Aggie Invitational including a schedule of events and course maps, fans can visit the USU Athletic website.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.