XC: Cross country teams enjoy breakout performances in Alabama

Eric Ojeda led the Mavericks to a second-place team finish at the Crimson Classic.

Oct. 18, 2013

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The UT Arlington men's and women's cross country teams capped their regular seasons in big ways Friday evening, as the men finished second and the women placed fifth at the Crimson Classic.

"These were the kind of performances we've been looking for," head coach John Sauerhage said. "It was the best meet of the year for both teams, and we now know we'll be ready for the conference meet in two weeks."

The men's runner-up showing was as impressive as any regular-season result in school history, as the Mavs bested 20 teams, including Rice (No. 3 in South Central Regional), as well as Southeastern Conference schools Alabama, LSU and Vanderbilt and Atlantic Coast Conference foe Florida State.

The UTA men, ranked 15th in the most recent South Central poll, finished with 85 points. Auburn claimed the team title with 45 points.

Sophomore Eric Ojeda, a walk-on competing in college athletics for the first time this season, was the first Maverick across the finish line. He posted an 8k time of 25:03.37 to place 11th at the event, which took place at the well-known Harry Pritchett Running Park.

Ryan Tilotta was just two places behind Ojeda, as he finished with a clocking of 25:09.18. Craig Lautenslager (17th, 25:19.37) and Emil Blomberg (20th, 25:25.66) also were among the top 20. The final UTA scorer was Virgilio Martinez, who crossed in 25:38.56 to place 29th.

Freshmen Carlos Arias (26:25.63) and Grant Copeland (26:26.83) took 74th and 76th, respectively. Aaron Purser (26:45.05), Robert Gribble (26:48.54) and Jake Powers (27:15.46) also competed for the Mavericks.

The women were fifth among the 24-team field, finishing behind only Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Auburn. Among the schools that UTA defeated was Georgia State, last year's Sun Belt champion.

Hannah Nilsson was the Mavs' top finisher for the second time this year, as she snagged a ninth-place result. Nilsson completed the 5k race with a time of 17:41.29.

UTA's depth proved key, as the next four Mavs finished less than 30 seconds apart. Gabriela Alfonzo took 35th in 18:09.18, while Ashly Wright came in 40th in 18:13.46. Katelyn Hayward (48th, 18:21.94) and Sydney Hampton (57th, 18:30.06) rounded out the UTA scorers.

The other participants were Elin Andersson (147th, 20:21.37) and Johanna Nissen Karlsson (152nd, 20:32.78).

UTA will now set its sights on the Sun Belt Conference Championships, which will be run Saturday, Nov. 2 in Troy, Ala. In the preseason coaches' poll, the Maverick men were chosen as the favorites, while the women were predicted to finish third.





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