Big Ten Cross Country Opens 2012 Slate This Weekend

Brendon Blacklaws and the Wolverines host the Michigan Open this weekend.

Brendon Blacklaws and the Wolverines host the Michigan Open this weekend.

Aug. 30, 2012

Park Ridge, Ill. -

Big Ten men's and women's cross country begins this weekend with six men’s and women’s conference teams taking to the course for the first time on Friday.

Illinois and Michigan each host meets to open competition on Friday. Illinois hosts the Illini Challenge, while the Wolverines welcome teams to the Michigan Open. Michigan State travels to the Jeff Drenth Memorial in Mount Pleasant, Mich., while Purdue competes in Valparaiso's Crusader Open.

Penn State and Iowa also open the season on Friday as the Nittany Lions travel to the Lock Haven Dolan Duals and the Hawkeyes compete in the Western Illinois Early Bird Open. Nebraska and Ohio State hit the road on Saturday, as the Huskers participate in the Creighton/UNO Classic, and the Buckeyes travel to Dayton for the Flyer 5K Challenge.

Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin each open their schedules on their home courses next weekend. The Golden Gophers host the Oz Memorial and the Badgers compete in the Badger Opener on Sept. 7, while the Hoosiers welcome competitors to the Indiana Open on Sept. 8.

The Northwestern women’s team travels to DeKalb, Ill. on Sept. 7 to participate in Northern Illinois’ Huskie Open.  

Entering the season, the conference boasts eight total teams ranked in the top 30 nationally. Defending NCAA and Big Ten Champion Wisconsin is ranked first in the men's poll, followed by No. 13 Indiana, No. 18 Minnesota and No. 19 Michigan. Michigan leads the way in the women's rankings, checking in at No. 12. Michigan State follows at No. 17, while No. 27 Minnesota and 29 Wisconsin round out the poll.