CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte cross country team will welcome over 40 collegiate programs to the Queen City as it prepares to host the Fourth Annual Charlotte Invitational on Friday, Sept. 28 at McAlpine Park.

Events are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. beginning with the women's 6,000M gold championship race, followed by the men's 8000M gold championship race at 4:15 p.m. The women's green race will start approximately around 4:50 p.m., as the men are slated for a 5:20 p.m. start.

What started as a simple, small meet has now become one of the biggest races in collegiate cross country. Several powerhouse schools and conferences will be represented on Friday as they contend for the Charlotte Invitational title.

"We started this meet four years ago and we only had about 25 teams in attendance," Head coach Ed Schlichter said. "We thought it'd be a great event that had the opportunity to grow and it did just that.  I'm excited to see its growth and every year I just want it to get bigger and better."

The Niners captured the first Charlotte Invitational title back in 2009. Since then, Clemson (men) and Wake Forest (women) won the event in 2010 as Virginia Tech took the crown on both sides in 2011.

Charlotte is looking to rebound this week after being tested in the Toledo Bubble Buster meet last Saturday. The 49ers plan to defend its home turf in addition to competing to the top of their standards.

Sophomore Zach Greth and freshman Getisso Dentamo have led the Charlotte men throughout the 2012 season. Greth, who had a stellar freshman stint, is continuing to develop on the course. Dentamo proved that he could run with the best last weekend in Toledo as he led the Niners against a tough field of nationally-ranked opponents.

Also turning in consistent efforts have been Eleazar Garcia, Chris Anderson, Ben Sterett, and Michael Tamayo.

Freshman Morgan Richards and senior Hana Sutchar are continuing to lead the women's efforts. The duo has led Charlotte in every race this season. Senior Maria Ruiz competed in her first race of the season in Toledo and finished second for the 49ers. The Niners have also had steady finishes from Lauren Pollard, Jen Molke, and Taylor Carcella.

"Last weekend was a real eye-opener for us," Schlichter said. "We had the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the country. That meet woke everybody up and helped us figure out some things that we needed to work on. Being in a competitive meet last weekend helps set us up for Friday's race. This is going to be a bigger meet, but I think we've learned things from last weekend like pacing ourselves a bit better and working together."

High school action will start immediately after the collegiate portion of the meet is over. The boys 5000m is set for 5:20 p.m. and the girls 5000m will begin at 6:35 p.m.


Collegiate Teams Participating:

Anderson (S.C.) (W)

Anderson (S.C.) (M)

Appalachian State (W)

Appalachian State (M)

Barton (W)

Barton (M)

Campbell (W)

Campbell (M)

Charlotte (W)

Charlotte (M)

Clemson (W)

Clemson (M)

Coastal Carolina (W)

Coastal Carolina (M)

Coker (W)

Coker (M)

Col. of Charleston (W)

Col. of Charleston (M)

Davidson (W)

Davidson (M)

East Carolina (W)

East Carolina (M)

Elon (W)

Elon (M)

Erskine (W)

Erskine (M)

Francis Marion (W)

Francis Marion (M)

Gardner-Webb (W)

Gardner-Webb (M)

Guilford (W)

Guilford (M)

High Point (W)

High Point (M)

King (W)

King (M)

Lees-McRae (W)

Lees-McRae (M)

Marshall (W)

Marshall (M)

Morris (W)

Morris (M)

Newberry (W)

Newberry (M)

North Florida (W)

North Florida (M)

Pfeiffer (W)

Pfeiffer (M)

Presbyterian (W)

Presbyterian (M)

Queens (N.C.) (W)

Queens (N.C.) (M)

Radford (W)

Radford (M)

Richmond (W)

Richmond (M)

Salem (W)

Samford (W)

Samford (M)

Savannah Art & Design (W)

Savannah Art & Design (M)

Savannah State (W)

Savannah State (M)

South Carolina (W)

St. Andrews (W)

St. Andrews (M)

UNC-Pembroke (W)

UNC-Pembroke (M)

UNC-Wilmington (W)

UNC-Wilmington (M)

USC Upstate (W)

USC Upstate (M)

Virginia Tech (W)

Virginia Tech (M)

Wake Forest (W)

Wake Forest (M)

Webber (W)

Webber (M)

Western Carolina (W)

Western Carolina (M)

Wingate (W)

Wingate (M)

Winthrop (W)

Winthrop (M)


High School Teams Competing:

Apex (M)

Carolina Day (W)

Carolina Day (M)

Charlotte Country Day (M)

Covenant Central (W)

Covenant Central (M)

Grace Academy (W)

Grace Academy (M)

Piedmont (W)

Piedmont (M)

Providence Day School (W)

Providence Day School (M)

United Faith Christian (M)

Westchester Academy (W)

Westchester Academy (M)