CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte 49ers cross country team is on the road this weekend for its last set of tune-ups before hosting the Atlantic 10 Championship on October 29th. Several members of the men's and women's squads will travel to Appalachian State in Boone, NC for the Blue Ridge Open on Friday, while most of the top seven on the women's side are off to Terre Haute, Ind. for NCAA Pre-Nationals.
As always, head coach Ed Schlichter has a strategy behind which runners will compete and where. "On Friday, we're going up to Boone [for the App State meet]. We're going to send the men's A squad up there and a B squad on the women's side as well," he explained. "We're also taking some of the girls from our top seven and putting them in the Boone race, while saving some of them for Sunday when we travel to Indiana State for Pre-Nationals."
Among the members of the men's team competing in the Blue Ridge Open are top runner Daweet Dagnachew, Joseph Cotto, Brian McGuire, Dakota Lowery and Zach Greth. On the women's side, Maria Ruiz, Maraya Slatter, Ashley Edwards and Kristin Mitchell are among those who will compete for Charlotte at Boone.
"There will be 40 teams, including several nationally-ranked teams, so it's a really big race for us," Schlichter said of the Pre-Nationals meet. "Not only will there be nationally-ranked teams, but we'll see Atlantic 10 foes like Dayton, La Salle, Xavier and Duquesne. For us to get to see those teams before A10s will be an added benefit for us."
The 49ers will race against #3 Florida State, #4 Colorado, #5 Georgetown, #7 New Mexico and #18 Michigan in Indiana. Indiana, Kansas State, Dartmouth, Cornell, Tulsa and Vanderbilt are also receiving votes in this week's national poll.
The Niners, who were off last week, have been training hard in preparation for this weekend. Schlichter expects to see the effects of practice pay off with improvements in team chemistry and confidence.
The Blue Ridge Open begins on Friday at 3pm, while the women's 6K race at Pre-Nationals will kick off at 11:40am on Sunday.