SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento State men's and women's cross country teams will begin their 2013 seasons at the Aggie Opener on Friday, Aug. 30, at UC Davis.

Under the direction of first year head coach Joe Eby, the Hornet women feature 13 returners while the men bring back 12 athletes from a year ago.

The women's team will be guided by seniors Rachel Mitchell, Lauren Mugnaini (pictured) and Veronica Stinnett who each redshirted a year ago. Mugnaini, who was the Big Sky champion in the 10K during the outdoor season, also qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary in the 5K and 10K. Competing unattached at last season's Aggie Opener, the Sacramento native placed fifth with a time of 14:11.7. In 2011, Mitchell led the Hornets in each of the six meets in which she competed. Like Mugnaini, she also advanced to the NCAA West Preliminary in the 5K during the 2013 outdoor season.

Seniors Reesey Byers (pictured) will guide a balanced men's team. Byers had the highest finish on the team in seven of the eight meets a year ago, including winning the Hornet Jamboree and placing second at the Aggie Opener. Also returning are seniors Cole Younger, Nathanael Litwiller, Zach Kaylor and Daniel Mitchell as well as juniors Domenic D'Acquisto and Mac Harvey who have all seen significant action with the Hornets.

At last season's Aggie Opener, the men captured the team title with 35 points, just edging host UC Davis (36) for the top spot. D'Acquisto, who placed seventh, joined Byers in the top 10.

The women finished second in the meet with 61 points — ahead of Fresno State (64) but behind UC Davis (15). Chloe Berlioux (ninth) was the lone Hornet in the top 10.

In a vote of the Big Sky Conference's 11 head coaches, the Sacramento State men were picked to finish fifth while the women were tabbed to tie for fifth place. Northern Arizona was selected as the favorite for the men followed by Southern Utah and Weber State. Weber State, NAU and SUU were the top three selections in the women's poll.

Big Sky Preseason Polls
1. Northern Arizona - 121
2. Southern Utah - 100
3. Weber State - 99
4. Montana State - 97
5. Sacramento State - 65
6. Montana - 62
7. Idaho State - 56
8. Eastern Washington 44
9. North Dakota - 40
10. Northern Colorado 22
11. Portland State - 20

1. Weber State - 118
2. Northern Arizona - 108
3. Southern Utah - 97
4. Montana State - 84
T5. Sacramento State - 64
T5. Idaho State - 64
7. Northern Colorado - 60
8. North Dakota - 42
9. Montana - 35
T10. Eastern Washington - 27
T10. Portland State - 27