Utah State's men and women's track and field teams will open the 2012 outdoor season at the University of Arizona Willie Williams Classic and Dave Murray Distance Carnival at Roy P. Drachman Stadium in Tucson on Friday and Saturday, March 16-17.

USU will compete against athletes from 25 teams, including Western Athletic Conference foe New Mexico State as well as Texas Tech, Northern Arizona, Western State and host Arizona along with some local community and junior colleges.

Action begins on Friday at 4 p.m. MST with the men's hammer along with the women's javelin and will wrap up with the men's 5,000 meter run at 10 p.m. Saturday kicks off with the men's pole vault at 11 a.m., and the meet is set to conclude at 4:15 with the men's 4x400 meter relay. All times are subject to change.

"We are really excited for the first outdoor meet. We come to this meet in Arizona because of the nice weather, the big competition, and it gives our athletes a chance to get back in the swing of things," said veteran head coach Gregg Gensel. "We don't really expect astonishing marks because we took a few weeks off with spring break and all of that, but it is important to get our feet back on the ground and get going as soon as we can. This is a big step for the women after winning the WAC indoor title and for the men to pick up where they left off after winning the outdoor title last year."

This weekend's meet is the opening of the outdoor season, as the Aggie men begin preparation to defend their 2011 WAC Outdoor Championship, the USU men's third-straight outdoor WAC title and fourth in the last five years (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011). The Aggie women finished in second-place at the 2011 WAC Outdoor Championships.

At the 2012 WAC Indoor Championships, the Aggie women won their first conference indoor title since 1994 while the men finished in second-place.

Utah State returns three individual WAC champions from 2011 in sophomores Chari Hawkins (heptathlon) and AJ Boully (400m hurdles) along with senior Ruth Hilton (3,000m steeplechase). The Aggies also have six returning student-athletes who competed in the 2011 NCAA Outdoor West Region primary rounds, including seniors Joe Canavan (shot put), Daniel Howell (3,000m steeplechase), Hilton (3,000m steeplechase), Kim Quinn (5,000m) along with junior Silas Pimentel (100m, 200m) and sophomore Kylie Hirschi (400m hurdles).

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Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.