LA JOLLA, Calif. -
As they do seemingly every year at this time, the UC San Diego cross country teams opened the season with a bang on Friday as both squads came away with team victories on their home course.
The Triton women had five of the top seven finishers to record a commanding victory over Point Loma Nazarene, Cal State L.A. and Cerritos College, while UCSD placed seven runners in the top 10 en route to a 15-point win over the Falcons and Sea Lions on the men's side.
"The primary goal for today was to see where we're at coming into the season and both teams ran well," fifth-year head coach Nate Garcia said. "We definitely have some things we'll need to work on going forward, but for this point in the year, I think we performed well, so we're pleased with where we're at."
UCSD turned in a dominant effort in the women's race, recording two of the top three times and seven of the first nine spots overall. Sophomore Chia Chang, who was named the team's Freshman of the Year after leading the Tritons in three races during her rookie campaign, picked up right where she left off, finishing first overall with a time of 15:12.9 in the 2.5 mile race.
She finished nearly a full 13 seconds in front of the second place competitor, Breelan Matranga of PLNU.
Finishing behind Chang was freshman Michelle Le Roux, who looked very strong in her first collegiate race. The Rancho Bernardo High School product clocked in at 15:30.0, which was good enough for third place overall. Senior Aaryn Kobayashi was the first of five consecutive Tritons to come in after that, finishing fifth at 15:47.9.
Freshman Melissa Le Roux, who is Michelle's twin, finished sixth with a time of 16:04.7 and junior Jackie Sikkema rounded out the scoring for the Tritons with a seventh place time of 16:05.3. Newcomers Alia Bales (16:05.7, 8th) and Dani Brabender (16:06.2, 9th) also finished in the top 10.
UCSD finished with a total of 22 points on the day, easily outdistancing Point Loma (55), Cal State L.A. (63) and Cerritos (96).
While no Triton finished higher than fourth on the men's side, the team was able to utilize its pack strategy to push through for the victory. UCSD claimed spots four through 10 in the four mile race, finishing with a total of 30 points. Cerritos tallied 45 points to finish second, while Point Loma took third with 59.
Junior Matt Lenehan hung back early, but made an impressive late charge to cross the finish line first for UCSD with a time of 22:01.3. He finished behind Cerritos' Daniel Herrera (21:24.6), Point Loma's William MacNeil (21:51.8) and Cerritos' Munir Kahhsay (21:53.5), who took first through third, respectively.
Sophomore Kellen Levy was the Tritons' second-highest finisher, clocking in at 22:04.2, which put him in fifth place. Fellow sophomore Mario Flores finished sixth at 22:10.0, while sophomore Ryan Lok and freshman Daniel Hauptman finished seventh and eighth with respective times of 22:14.9 and 22:15.3.
The Tritons will be back in action next weekend when they take part in the annual Asics/UC Irvine Invitational on Saturday, September 10. The race, which will feature a slew of Division I opponents, is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Anteater Recreation Center Field on the UCI campus.