NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana will open its 2016 cross country season Friday in a matchup of the city’s four NAIA schools.
The men’s and women’s teams of XULA, Dillard, Loyola and SUNO will compete in the second annual XULA Big Easy Opener at Audubon Park. The two-mile women’s race will start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) men’s race at 6 p.m.
Teams will compete around, but not on, Audubon Park’s golf course. Fans can access the race at the golf entrance at 6500 Magazine St. Admission is free.
Five XULA letterwinners return from last season: senior Christopher August and sophomore Darrick Williams on the men’s team and sophomores Chinyere Jones, Dionysia Love and Brianna Pace on the women’s.
August is a three-time all-conference runner and was the Gold Rush top finisher in every meet of 2015. For the Gold Nuggets, Pace was her team’s fastest finisher three times a year ago.
Joseph Moses is in his 12th season as coach of the Rush and Nuggets.
The meet will be the first of six for XULA before the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships in late October. At the conference meet the Rush and Nuggets will attempt to qualify for the NAIA National Championships Nov. 19 at Charlotte, N.C.