WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The UNCW men's and women's cross country teams go through their final paces before the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Championships this Friday when they compete in the Blue Ridge Open Cross Country Meet in Boone, N.C.
The Seahawks are making their fifth appearance of the season against a large field at the Donnie Kennedy XC Trails. The event, hosted by Appalachian State, features the Women's Gold 5K at 3:30 p.m. and the Men's Gold 8K at 4:15 p.m.
"This has been our final tune-up meet for several years now," said UNCW assistant cross country/track and field coach Layne Schwier. "This will help us gauge how we look as a team just two weeks away from the conference meet. The competition is usually very good and it's a great time of year to compete because the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing."
Three different runners - sophomore Rachel Quinn, freshman Alyssa Torres and junior Ashley Wybersky - have led the women's team in its four races this fall. Junior John Riemer was the top runner for the men in the first three races before sophomore Ryan O'Connor claimed honors two weeks ago at the UNCC Invitational.
Schwier says the course is fairly flat with "one decent hill," but the elevation could be a factor for both teams.
"The challenge for us each year in this race is the altitude," he noted. "While it's not like going to Colorado, the course does sit at nearly 3,300-feet and when you're used to living and training here, that's significant. Our breathing will be challenged."
The weather forecast calls for clear weather and temperatures in the low 60s. There will be 16 teams competing in the men's race and 15 in the women's race. UNCW finished 11th out of 23 entries in the men's race last year and the Seahawk women came in eighth out of 21.
"We're looking to get a better all-around performance this weekend," added Schwier. "Not everyone has run well in the last couple races. We need to have a higher percentage of the team run well at the same time. We're looking to build some confidence and gain some momentum heading into the CAA race.
"Our training has been solid and is peaking this week and next week before we sharpen up for the CAAs. Both teams have put in a lot of hard work and it's time to see that pay off."
After racing in the William & Mary Invitational on Sept. 15, the Seahawks return to Williamsburg, Va., on Oct. 27 for the CAA Championships.