LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The UC San Diego Cross Country teams opened the 2012 season on the right foot Friday, posting a pair of top-two finishes on their home course.
The Triton men had five of the top six finishers en route to a commanding victory over Point Loma Nazarene and Long Beach City College, while UCSD placed three runners in the top 10 and finished second to local rival San Diego State on the women's side.
"Overall we were really pleased with today's results," sixth-year head coach Nate Garcia said. "The men ran in a strong pack to earn a good season opening victory and, while we would have liked to get the victory on the women's side, we had a number of good things happen out there in their race as well."
UCSD was absolutely dominant in the men's race, claiming 14 out of the top 15 spots overall. Junior standout Kellen Levy, who was a scorer in six of the Tritons' seven races a year ago, picked up right where he left off, winning the four-mile race with a final time of 21:39.2.
Taking second place was freshman Scott Acton, who clocked in at 21:56.7, while fellow rookies Eddie Carrillo and Tareq Alwafai placed fourth and fifth with respective times of 22:18.3 and 22:18.6. Sophomore Mike Kloha rounded out the scoring for the Tritons in sixth place with a time of 22:19.6.
"We got a nice, strong run from Kellen today," Garcia continued. "This is the type of race that we are learning to expect from him as he begins to assert himself in our sport. Freshman Scott Acton had an amazing breakout race and showed a lot of promise for the season to come."
UCSD finished with a total of 18 points on the day, easily outdistancing Point Loma (54) and LBCC (68).
The Triton women faced a stiff early season test from Division I San Diego State, but still managed to hold their own. Junior Chia Chang, UCSD's top individual finisher in all but one race last season, paved the way once again, finishing the 2.5 mile run in third place at 15:20.8. She came in behind Cal State L.A.'s Sabrina Lopez (15:07.6) and SDSU's Laura Vazquez (15:08.4), who finished first and second.
Freshman Marie Diaz was the Tritons' second-fastest runner on the day, claiming seventh place at 15:32.9, one spot in front of fellow newcomer Carolina Guzman, who completed the course in 15:45.7. Senior Elena Inouye finished 15th at 16:08.9, while sophomore Dani Brabender took 16th with a time of 16:15.1.
"Chia continues to lead the team and got a good challenge to start the season today," Garcia added. "The SDSU team ran a really strong race and she finished in front of all but one of their scorers. We also had a pair of freshmen in the top 10, so we're excited to see how they develop into the season."
San Diego State tallied 26 points to win the race, while UCSD finished second with 49 and Cal State L.A. scored 93 to finish third. Point Loma Nazarene was fourth with 99, followed by Cal State San Bernardino in fifth with 113.
The Tritons will be back in action next weekend when they take part in the annual Asics/UC Irvine Invitational on Saturday, September 8. The race, which will feature several D-I squads, is slated to begin at 8:00 a.m. at the Anteater Recreation Center Field on the UCI campus.