CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte men's and women's cross country team will travel nearly 1,000 miles along with 80 other teams to compete in the 24th Annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The event is hosted by the University of Arkansas and has grown to become one of the premier running events in America. The 49ers will be making their first-ever appearance at the festival with the men's 10K race beginning at 9:45 a.m. and the women's 6K at 10:30 a.m.

The Niners enjoyed a week off from competition after they hosted the Charlotte Invitational, which featured over 40 teams. The men, who used an entire group effort, finished eighth out of 35 teams. Sophomore Zack Greth finished 29th overall and led Charlotte with a time of 25:18.98, shaving off a minute from his time at the Charlotte Invitational last year.

Freshman Getisso Dentamo finished second for the 49ers (25:59.34). Charlotte's next three runners, Michael Tamayo (26:04.90), Chris Anderson (26:11.57), and John Felts (26:36.27) who are all freshmen, poured in solid efforts for the team. Ben Sterett (26:39.09) and Nathan Tallada (27:35.49) rounded out the top seven for Charlotte.

"This will be the first time that the men are running a 10K in-season before regionals," Head coach Ed Schlichter said. "Hopefully they'll come out of the meet with a good idea of what it's like to prepare for the regional distance."  

The women will be running their second 6K of the year. In its last performance, Charlotte finished 12th and was headed by senior Maria Ruiz (22:36.38) who was 30th overall. Senior Hana Sutchar was second for the 49ers (23:16.26), followed by freshman Morgan Richards (23:17.23). Sophomores Jenna Christensen (23:18.46), Jen Molke (23:34.46), Taylor Carcella (24:03.53), and Chelsea Matson (24:15.62) rounded out the top seven.

"The women are really starting to come together," explained Schlichter. "During their last workout, they really showed me that they are ripping and ready to go."

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, who are ranked second and fourth respectively in the latest Men's Cross Country National Coaches' Poll, will be a pair of powerhouses at the meet on Saturday. Oklahoma won the meet last year and Oklahoma State finished third.

On the women's side, Arkansas will be the highest ranked team in attendance after falling to 11th in the latest Women's Cross Country National Coaches' Poll. Arkansas was second in last year's event meet behind Texas.

"The biggest thing for us to work on is working together," Schlichter said. "We're going to have to put a big emphasis on that this weekend because without us working together, we're just a bunch of individuals out there."