BREA, Calif. — The University of La Verne cross country teams kicked off their season at the annual Mark Covert Classic at Carbon Canyon Regional Park.
The Leopards used the meet as a workout over the first few miles to practice keeping the packs together and the coaching staff did not emphasize high finish.
"I was pleased with how both teams kept tight packs over the first few miles of their races," La Verne coach Bryan George said. "Practicing that skill in these early meets is going to pay dividends later in the season."
Melissa Cerrillos, who came on towards the end of last season, paced the women with a time of 20 minutes, 57.3 seconds on the 5k course and finished 45th overall. Rachael Dela Cruz came in 54th with a time of 21:22.8 and Kamalei Lee was 61st at 22:05.7.
Tanner Long led the way for the men. The senior turned a time of 26:28.3 and finished 34th overall on the 8k course.
Samuel Johnny, who finished first among La Verne men at the 2015 NCAA West Regional meet, came in 48th with a time of 26:50.8. Mario Martinez recorded a time of 27:24.1 for a 68th place finish and Antonio Rivera was close behind him, coming in 71st with a time of 27:48.0.
The women finished ninth as a team and the men placed 10th.
"I wasn't worried about times or places today," George said. "I just wanted to see them execute the race strategy, and for the most part, we were able to do that."
The Leopards are back in action next Saturday at the Biola Invitational in Fullerton.