CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte 49ers cross country program will host the fourth annual Charlotte Cross Country Invitational this Friday, September 30th at historic McAlpine Creek Park. This year's event, which features 43 women's teams and 36 men's squads, is by far the largest and most competitive Charlotte Invite yet. The Niners will be looking to defend their home turf, having fared well at McAlpine in the past. Charlotte has captured team titles at the 2007 and 2009 meets, while finishing in the top five on both sides at last year's event.

"We're hosting one of the biggest meets in the Southeast," said head cross country coach Ed Schlichter. "It's really exciting for us, being in our third year of hosting this meet at McAlpine. We've got just under 1000 runners competing this year and that's about triple what it was last year. We're ready for this weekend and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Pacing the women's squad will be senior Amanda Goetschius, Charlotte's top runner who finished second overall at the 2009 Charlotte Invitational. Goetschius is coming off a 21st place finish at the annual Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota last weekend, an effort that earned her this week's Atlantic-10 women's cross country Performer of the Week.

Junior Hana Sutchar and sophomore Katie Holloway should prove to be fierce competition, as well, for the Charlotte women. Sutchar was the Niners' top finisher at the Elon Invitational two weekends ago, while finishing second behind Goetschius at the Griak Invite. Holloway, who won the Charlotte Duals meet earlier this season, was Charlotte's third finisher in Minnesota last weekend in her first 6K race.

Freshmen Jen Molke and Kristen Stout are two potential scorers, as well. Molke was the only rookie point-scorer for the Niners in Minnesota, while Stout will be looking to improve upon a solid ninth place effort at the Elon meet.

The men's team, returning from a one-week hiatus, will be looking to get back into the swing of things with Friday's home meet. Junior Daweet Dagnachew, who competed for the first time this season at Elon and finishing fifth overall, should turn out a strong performance at McAlpine. Dakota Lowery and Ross Roberson, who finished behind Dagnachew at Elon with sixth and eighth place efforts, respectively, are two to watch as well.

Rookie Zach Greth has been impressive thus far for Charlotte, coming in as the men's top finisher at the Charlotte Duals meet and finishing 13th overall at the Elon Invite.

Because of the large number of teams competing, the meet will be split into four races, including men's and women's "A" races, as well as men's and women's non-scoring "B" races. The meet kicks off at 4 p.m. with the women's 5K "A" race, with the men's 8K "A" event following at 4:45 p.m. For a detailed schedule and additional meet details, check out the meet program PDF.