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    Cross Country To Open Season At Cardinal Relays
    SFA kicks off its season on Friday at the Cardinal Relays in Beaumont.
    SFA kicks off its season on Friday at the Cardinal Relays in Beaumont.

    Aug. 30, 2012

    NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin cross country teams will kick off their season on Friday when they travel to Beaumont for the Cardinal Relays.

    The event will include just three Southland Conference teams - SFA, Sam Houston State and Lamar - at Beaumont's Claiborne Park, with teams breaking off into pairs for two relays.

    "This is a great way for us to kick off the season," cross country coach Cody Clark said. "Both teams have been training extremely well and are at a good spot at this point. With such a small amount of teams and in this format it will be basically another training day, but we still expect to see everyone compete and compete well."

    The races will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Claiborne Park. The competitors will be paired up in teams and will trade out laps with the women running two, two-mile circuits each and the men running three loops apiece.

    The Ladyjacks will have nearly everyone back from its squad a year ago, headlined by reigning Southland Conference champion Lauren Smith. Senior Randi Plentl is also back after finishing third in the league individually a year ago, as is sophomore Laurie Byrd who finished up on a strong note last season. In all the Ladyjacks have six returners from last year's competition, in addition to three newcomers.

    On the guy's side, Clark has assembled a roster of more than 13 runners, including last season's top finishers Adam Saloom and Hunter Russell. The Lumberjacks will also welcome back senior Xavier Rodriguez, who utilized his redshirt season in 2011.

    "Hopefully everyone goes out and runs smart and well and betters themselves for two weeks from now when we head to the Rice Invitational," Clark said.

    The men and women take part in the Rice Invitational on Sept. 14 in Houston before splitting squads on Sept. 28, sending one to Austin for the Grass Routes Grand Prix and one to Stillwater, Okla., for the OSU Cowboy Jamboree.