ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten men's and women's cross country seasons are set to begin this weekend, with seven programs taking to the course for the first time on Friday and one team beginning its season on Saturday.
Illinois, Iowa and Michigan’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will all open their seasons on their respective home courses on Friday. The Fighting Illini will host the Illini Challenge, the Hawkeyes will begin their season at home at the Drake Invitational, and the Wolverines will host the Michigan Open. Michigan State will travel to the Jeff Drenth Memorial in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., while Purdue will begin its season at the Belmont Opener in Nashville.
The Maryland and Northwestern women’s squads will also open their season on Friday, with the Terrapins competing in the Mount St. Mary’s Duals in Emmitsburg, Md., and the Wildcats traveling to the NIU Night Race in DeKalb, Ill. Ohio State will travel to Dayton, Ohio, for the Flyer 5K Challenge on Saturday.
The remaining six conference squads will open their seasons the following weekend. On Friday, Sept. 5, Minnesota will welcome competitors to the Oz Memorial, while Nebraska will travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., to compete in the Augustana Twilight. Penn State will take part in the Dolan Duals in Lock Haven, Pa., while Wisconsin will host the Badger Opener.
On Saturday, Sept. 6, Indiana will welcome teams to the Indiana Open, while Rutgers begins its season at the Fordham Fiasco & Follies in Bronx, N.Y.
In the preseason USTFCCCA poll, five women’s teams are ranked among the top 30. Michigan is ranked No. 1, followed by No. 6 Michigan State, No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 25 Minnesota and No. 29 Penn State. On the men’s side, Indiana leads the way at No. 6, followed by No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 22 Michigan. Illinois and Michigan State are also receiving votes in the men’s USTFCCCA preseason poll.