EASTON, Pa. -- The University of Delaware women’s cross country team will open its 2012 season on Friday when the Blue Hens compete in the Lehigh Invitational.

The meet, which will take place on Lehigh’s Goodman Campus, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Delaware will be led by Wendy McFarlane, who is beginning her fifth season with the Blue Hens and her first as head coach of the women’s cross country team. UD returns 12 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished fifth at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships, 19th at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, and fifth at the ECAC Championships.

The Blue Hens will be led by junior Lindsay Prettyman, who was Delaware’s top finisher in all one but meet last season when she was named the UD Alumni Association Team MVP. Sophomore Nicole Daly (at right) also returns after an excellent freshman season in which she was the Blue Hens’ top finisher at the Paul Short Invitational and earned the team’s Outstanding Rookie Award.

Also returning for Delaware are junior Alyssa Kennedy and sophomore Katrina Steenkamer, who each competed in all eight meets a year ago.

The Lehigh Invitational will be the first of eight meets for the Blue Hens, who will next be in action at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational hosted by Penn State on Sept. 8. UD then hosts the Delaware Invitational on Sept. 15 at White Clay Creek State Park in Newark, before returning to Easton to compete in the Paul Short Invitational on Sept. 28.

Delaware hosts its second meet on Oct. 13 with the Blue & Gold Invitational at Frightland Course in Middletown, Del., before competing in the CAA Championships at William & Mary on Oct. 27. The Blue Hens will then participate in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Penn State on Nov. 9, and wrap up their season on Nov. 17 at the ECAC Championships at Van Cortlandt State Park in Bronx, N.Y.