CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte men's and women's cross country teams will kick-off their 2012 season on Friday, Aug. 31 when they compete in the Western Carolina Invitational in Cullowhee.

Teams participating in the invitational are the University of Florida, UNC-Asheville, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb, North Greenville, and Warren Wilson. The women's two-mile race will begin at 6 p.m., followed immediately by the men's 5-K event.

It is the tenth time since 2000 that WCU has hosted the event. The Catamounts men's and women's teams finished second in their event last year, while Florida won the event on both sides.

On the women's side, Charlotte enters the meet as the only team ranked in the Southeast region. The 49ers were ranked 11th in the NCAA Southeast Region preseason poll. Florida was selected third in the South region preseason poll. Florida also represents the only men's team with a regional ranking. The Gators are third in the South region.

The 49ers have been hard at work for the past three weeks to prepare for the upcoming season. Both teams return most of their top runners from last season. Charlotte welcomed an impressive 2012 recruiting class to the program who will get their first taste of collegiate cross country on Friday.

Charlotte plans to put its competitive edge to the test at the WCU Invitational. However it knows that this opening meet will not be the single predictor of its season.

"We're really excited about the start of the season," Charlotte coach Ed Schlichter said. "This first meet is going to give us a feel of what we're doing well and what we need to work on. We'll use this meet as more of a fitness test, but we definitely plan on competing well and accomplishing goals."

Following the WCU Invitational, the 49ers will host the Charlotte Duals on Saturday, Sep. 9 at the Frank Liske Park in Concord beginning at 9 a.m.