MORAGA, Calif. -- Nearly every member of the Saint Mary's men and women's cross country teams will be in action this weekend at one of two competitions on the Gaels' schedule.
The first-teamers will compete Saturday at the WCC Preview at Fernhill Park in Portland, Ore., the site of this year's West Coast Conference Championships. The rest of the squad will participate Friday at the SF State Invitational at Speedway Meadow in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Saturday's WCC Preview will provide the Gaels a first look at the site of the league championships, which are moving away from Belmont's Crystal Springs XC Course for the first time in approximately 30 years. Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Portland, Santa Clara and Washington State are among the teams confirmed for the event.
The competition is scheduled for a 10 a.m. start with the women's 6K, while the men's 8K will begin at 10:45 a.m.
"We feel it is important to race on the course where our conference championships will be held," said SMC head coach Marty Kinsey. "Our men and women will have an opportunity to run the course, see a few conference opponents and be much more prepared for the WCC Championships. And, being the first of three travel competitions over an eight-week span, it should be one of our better opportunities to make progress."
The SF State Invitational is scheduled to get underway at 3:30 p.m. Friday with the men's 8K race, followed by the women's 6K event at 4:15 p.m.
"We are looking for our 'B' squad to step up and show us they belong on varsity," said assistant coach Mark Carberry. "Since they raced here two week ago, they are all familiar with the course and should make solid improvements. The SF State Invite is always a fun course at a great venue in Golden Gate Park."
A total of 146 athletes are expected to compete at the 26th edition of the meet, featuring a nearly even split of 74 men and 72 women representing eight colleges and universities. The Gators have typically conducted the SF State Invitational during the first week of October in recent years; however, a previously scheduled bluegrass music festival in the park prompted the switch this season.
Thanks to San Francisco State and Portland for information that contributed to this report.