WILMINGTON, North Carolina –The UNCW men’s and women’s cross country teams will get an early look at the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship course this weekend when the Seahawks compete in the Towson Invitational in Cockeysville, Md..

The race will be contested on the rolling, hilly cross country course at Oregon Ridge Park; the same layout for the conference championship on Nov. 2.

Four men’s teams – UNCW, College of Charleston, Hofstra and Morgan State – open the competition with an 8K run at 10 a.m.. Six women’s teams – UNCW, College of Charleston, Towson, Delaware, Hofstra and James Madison – cover a 5K layout at 10:45 a.m.

“This is as much a scouting mission for us as it is a competition,” said assistant cross country/track and field coach Layne Schwier. “The teams will be racing on the same course as the conference race against the same competitors. The CAA Championship race determines if we have a good season or not, so we’ll be able to tell how well we are going to do this year from this weekend’s race.”

The teams to watch in the women’s race are James Madison and Delaware. James Madison’s women were the runner-up in the 2012 CAA Championship, and placed sixth in the NCAA Southeast Regional. Delaware’s women finished 10th in the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Regional.

The men’s race is only a three-team affair and Morgan State has just a 21-minute jaunt to the course.

UNCW’s men finished sixth in the season-opening Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C., and third in the Seahawk Invitational, while the women finished fifth and third.

John Reimer, a senior from Monkton, Md., was UNCW’s strongest runner in five out of seven races last season, and returns to his home state to run after leading the Seahawks in the first two races.

Senior Ashley Wybersky of Manassas, Va., was the club’s top runner in the final four races of the 2012 season. She has led the team in the first two races, placing fourth in the Seahawk Invitational and 31st in the Covered Bridge Open. Michaela Moran, Dakota Foskey, Haley Kapheim, Rachel Quinn, and Hannah Riordan join Wybersky as UNCW’s top performers early this fall.

Schwier says the teams have been focused on training since the start of the season, but now the focus is shifting. “Cross country teams must balance racing and training,” said Schwier, “but this race is unique because it takes place on the same grounds the conference race will be on.

“At this point in the season we’re focused on training hard, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next two months. Fortunately, we’re going to get a good look at what to expect in the championship race, and this weekend will tell us just how much work we have to do before we get there.”