NEW YORK - The Columbia men's and women's cross country team will open the 2012 season Sunday, September 9 at the Vermont Invitational in Williston, Vt. The men's race opens the day at 11:00 a.m., followed by the women's run. Both squads will look to take the meet for the third consecutive year following impressive sweeps in 2010 and 2011.

The Lions are coming off a strong 2011 season in which the men's team finished second at the Ivy League Heptagonals to earn an at-large team bid to the 2011 NCAA Championships. The Columbia men finished third at the 2011 NCAA Regionals to earn the right to compete at the NCAA Championships last season.

Returning are seniors Mike Murphy, Leighton Spencer and junior Nico Composto who received USTFCCCA All-Region honors last season.  The Lions posted the most All-Region runners in the Ivy League in 2011 with former standouts Justin Heck and Kyle Merber amongst the men honorees.

The women's team returns sophomore Waverly Neer and senior Caroline McDonough who also earned All-Region recognition for Columbia. McDonough has received All-Region status in back-to-back years as she was named to the All-Region list also in 2010.

Neer capped off her first collegiate cross country season with a 40th place finish at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. With a season-best time of 20:30.4 in the women's 6K, she earned USTFCCCA All-American status and was the top first-year finisher in the NCAA's 254-runner field.