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    Wildcats Aim for Fast Start to 2012 at NIU Invite

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Fifth-year senior Sophie Ewald is one of five NU runners back in 2012 after competing for the 'Cats at last year's NCAA Regional Championship meet.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Fifth-year senior Sophie Ewald is one of five NU runners back in 2012 after competing for the 'Cats at last year's NCAA Regional Championship meet.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings Summary

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- With months of offseason training and preseason preparation behind them, Northwestern is ready to open the 2012 cross country season Friday evening at the NIU Invitational hosted by Northern Illinois. The event features six teams from region, including DePaul, Marquette, Illinois-Chicago and Chicago State in addition to Northwestern and host Northern Illinois.

    Northwestern and the rest of the field is set to begin its 5K trek across the NIU's North 40 Course at 5:45 p.m. Friday in DeKalb. Results from the meet will be available on NUsports.com and on the NIU Cross Country page upon the meet's conclusion.

    'Cats Featured in Regional, National Rankings
    The USTFCCCA released their NCAA Division I Preseason Team Rankings last week and rated Northwestern favorably in both the regional and national polls. Regionally, NU checked in at No. 4 in the Midwest Region, thanks largely on a wealth of returners who contributed to the team's fifth-place showing at last season's NCAA Midwest Regional event. Only Big 12 powers Iowa State and Oklahoma State along with fellow Big Ten competitor Minnesota rank ahead of the Wildcats in the preseason regional polls.

    Northwestern also garnered two votes in the national polls, giving the Big Ten Conference seven schools either in the top-30 or in the receiving votes category.

    Familiar Setting
    NU is the defending champion of the early-season event having also claimed first place at the 2011 Huskie Open. Audrey Huth nabbed second place that day with a time of 17:57 while Lexie Goldsmith was not far behind in third with a time of 18:07. Northern Illinois also hosted the 2011 Midwest Regional Championships, where Huth (16th) and Goldsmith (24th) conquered NIU's challenging North 40 Course to earn All-Midwest Region recognition.

    NU Hosts 5K Race Series
    This fall, all members of the Northwestern and Chicagoland communities are invited to participate in the inaugural Northwestern 5K Race Series hosted by NU Cross Country. The trio of fun 5K races will be held on the scenic path along Lake Michigan on the Northwestern campus, with the starting line located adjacent to NU's Lakeside Field athletic complex.

    The dates of the event are: Thursday, Sept. 6, Tuesday, Sept. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 4. View the full release for more information.

    On the Horizon
    The NIU Invite is the first of three Friday meets in a four-week span for the Wildcats in September, with the middle leg of the stretch coming next week (Sept. 14) at Michigan State's Spartan Invitational.

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