Sept. 14, 2013
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The UT Arlington men's and women's cross country teams began their 2013 seasons Saturday morning at the annual UTA Season Opener. The women finished second, while the men placed third at the race.
For the women, the Mavericks totaled 39 points to finish 14 points behind team champion SMU (25). Baylor (83), UALR (127), North Texas (132) and Louisiana-Monroe (143) rounded out the Division I competitors.
Gabriela Alfonzo paced the Mavericks, as the sophomore placed fifth overall in 18:08.6. She headlined a UTA contingent that included five top-10 finishers. Junior Hannah Nilsson was second on the Mavs squad, as she took seventh (18:24.1).
"It was good for the first meet of the year," Alfonzo said. "It wasn't my best, but I felt pretty strong throughout. It's great to hear people screaming for you when you run at home, it pushes you to keep going."
On the men's side, UALR won with 33 points, while Louisiana-Monroe was the runner up (41). UTA had 50 points in its first meet of the season.
Ryan Tilotta led the Mavericks, placing seventh overall in 20:00.5. He was followed closely by Eric Ojeda (9th, 20:02.2), a Grand Prairie native and walk-on who had not raced since his senior year of high school two years ago.
"It felt great to compete again," Ojeda said. "I was really just trying to get a hold of the pace and get used to the college level. I thought I may have started out too fast, but it turned out I really needed that start. I had a lot of friends and family cheering me on which made it a lot of fun."
Aaron Purser also finished among the top 10 with a time of 20:11.4. Grant Copeland (20:18.4) was one spot behind in 11th, while Virgilio Martinez rounded out the scoring for the Mavericks, as he placed 13th in 20:36.5.
The Saturday morning meet was the first at the new home of UTA cross country, Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie.
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