The Utah State men's cross-country team is ranked eighth in the Mountain Regional Preseason Team Rankings as announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). USU opens the 2012 season on Saturday with its lone home meet of the season at the Aggies’ new home course.

The Aggies are one of four men's teams to represent the Western Athletic Conference as they are joined by New Mexico State, who ranks 12th in the Mountain Region, along with Idaho ranking 15th in the West Region and WAC newcomers UTSA ranking eighth in the South Central Region.

Additionally, Utah State joins four other men's team from the Beehive state on the Mountain Region list, including BYU (first), Weber State (fifth), Southern Utah (sixth) and Utah Valley (14th).

USTFCCCA Regional Cross Country Rankings are determined subjectively by a single member coach in each respective region. The regional representative is tasked with weighing returning team strength with current-season results in determining predicted team finishes at the NCAA Regional Championships.

USU's men and women's cross-country teams will begin the 2012 season by hosting the Aggie Invitational on Sept. 1 at the newly landscaped Innovation Campus Wellness Park, which is located at 1498 North 800 East in Logan. The collegiate men will run at 9 a.m., followed by the collegiate women at 9:30. Several high school varsity and junior varsity teams will also compete at the conclusion of the collegiate races.

In 2011, the Aggie men won their sixth WAC Cross Country Championship in the last seven years and return four men, including junior Kyle McKenna who was named first-team All-WAC after placing fifth at the 2011 WAC Cross Country Championships. Other USU men returning from a year ago include seniors Aaron Clements and David Cluff and sophomore Eric Shellhorn.

Utah State's women's cross-country team finished third at the 2011 WAC Championships. USU's 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.

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