No. 2 Florida State, No. 4 Duke at Notre Dame Invitational 

South Bend, Ind., is the site of this weekend’s top-five showdown between ACC rivals No. 2 Florida State and No. 4 Duke in the Blue race, the meet is fraught with implications for the coaches' polls.

IDLE TEAMS
No. 1 Providence
No. 3 Arizona
No. 8 Stanford

With both FSU and Duke rested after idling this past weekend, look for two fresh teams to open up a series of 2013 showdowns that will include the ACC championships.

Florida State said goodbye to four of its five scorers from its fourth-place team at the 2012 NCAAs, but the 2013 squad has stepped in to fill those gaps in a big way. Lone returning scorer and All-American junior Colleen Quigley is translating her momentum as outdoor steeplechase runner-up to the trails, joined by junior transfer Hannah Walker as the squad’s formidable 1-2 punch. Quigley won the individual ND Invite crown a year ago to lead her FSU squad to the team title, while Walker has been the top FSU runner and overall winner in each of her two meets so far this season.

Duke has its three top scorers from its seventh-place 2012 NCAA squad back in action this year, including two All-Americans in Kelsey Lakowske and Juliet Bottorff. Notre Dame will be just the second competition of the season for some of the Blue Devils’ top runners, though they looked sharp in a win at the Adidas XC Challenge at NC State as Bottorff set a course record and garnered national athlete of the week recognition.

By no means will FSU and Duke be alone in the race, however. No. 15 New Mexico is in action for the first time since its season-opener in early September, and leading a pack of five other ranked squads including No. 19 host Notre Dame, No. 20 Butler, No. 24 San Francisco, No. 28 BYU and No. 30 Princeton.

No. 5 Oregon, No. 7 Washington at Bill Dellinger Invitational 

A Pac-12 top-10 tussle is in store for the Bill Dellinger Invitational as fifth-ranked, defending champion Oregon takes on No. 7 Washington. The Duck women will be without the services of their top transfers, but will roll out the mostly the same squad that finished runner-up to No. 1 Providence last week in Boston. Senior Megan Patrignelli led the way with a sixth-place finish, while young Ducks freshman Maggie Schmaedick and sophomore Molly Grabill were 11th and 12th, respectively.

Washington is back in action for the first time since hosting their Sundodger Invitational in mid-September. After not competing during the track season and a tough 2012 XC season, senior Katie Flood is rounding back into form after winning the Sundodger. She was a seventh-place finisher at XC NCAAs in 2011 and an individual NCAA track champion outdoors at 1500 meters that spring, and is striving toward reaching that status once more in her final season.

After losing top 2012 returner Megan Goethals to injury, the Huskies will need Flood at full strength and returning scorers Justine Johnson and Liberty Miller — both seniors — to step up to fill the void, and an early test against Oregon will be a good measuring stick.

No. 6 Georgetown, No. 10 Cornell at Paul Short Invitational 

Tenth-ranked Cornell is the defending team champion of the Paul Short Invitational, but the Big Red will face stiff competition in the meet, not the least of which is No. 6 Georgetown and Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino, the individual top returner from last season’s NCAA championships and a three-time 2013 NCAA track champion.

Cornell is coming off a third-place finish at the Boston College Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown behind No. 1 Providence and No. 5 defending national champion Oregon, led by returning All-American Rachel Sorna in fifth place individually. Sorna and the full squad will be back in action again, as they’ll all be needed to compete against the strong field.

The stiffest team competition will likely come from Georgetown, the 2011 national champions who are in action for the first time since winning the Dartmouth Invitational in mid-September. The Hoyas return three of its scorers and five total runners from its 2012 NCAA team that finished 12th, all of whom would make their 2013 season debuts at Lehigh. Juniors Madeline Chambers and Katrina Coogan are the top two returners.

Right behind the meet’s two top-ranked teams are No. 12 Villanova and No. 13 Penn State, along with No. 22 Boston College, No. 25 Iowa State and No. 29 West Virginia.

Aside from D’Agostino, other returning All-Americans looking to figure prominently into the individual race are No. 12 Villanova’s Emily Lipari and Cornell’s Sorna.

No. 9 Arkansas at Chile Pepper Invitational

Ninth-ranked Arkansas will host the 25th Annual Chile Pepper Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville, Ark. The event features more than 20 NCAA Division I entries and a total of 45 collegiate entries.

Along with the Razorbacks, there will be five teams competing this weekend that are featured in the USTFCCCA Regional Rankings. 

Other notable teams include Baylor, which is hosting the 2013 NCAA South Central Regional, Dallas Baptist University, Florida A&M, Harding, LSU, Oral Roberts and TCU.