UCLA Cross Country Teams Start 2002 Campaign On Saturday

Aug. 27, 2002

Eric Peterson's UCLA men and women's cross country teams open the 2002 collegiate season on Saturday (Aug. 31) at the CS Fullerton 'Season Opener' Invitational, held at Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea. The Men's 8000m race will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Women's 5000m event starts at 9:15 a.m.

Last year, UCLA opened the cross country season at this same event, where the Bruin men placed third, behind Stanford and Cal Baptist and the UCLA women placed second in the team standings, behind Stanford.

Bruin Men

The UCLA men's team lost its top runner from the last two years, Bryan Green (Palmdale/Littlerock HS) who as a senior (2001) and junior (2000) qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual.

In 2002, the Bruin men will be led by sophomores, Ben Aragon (Santee/West Hills HS) and Jon Rankin (Spring Valley/Monte Vista HS).

As a true freshman last season, Aragon was UCLA's No. 2 finisher at both the Pac-10 (19th) and NCAA West Region (25th) races. In track in the 1500m, Aragon placed sixth at the U. S. Junior and seventh at the Pac-10 and ran a personal-best 3:48.63.

Rankin missed all of 2001-02 (cross country/track) with leg stress fractures. As a true freshman in 2000-01, Rankin won the 1500m at the U. S. Junior and USC dual meets and ran a team-leading 3:47.47.

Adding experience to the Bruin men's roster this fall will be - lone senior Phil Young (La Canada HS) and sophomores, Puneet Mahan (Norwalk HS), Reggie Oronoz (Pasadena/Loyola HS), Bryan Bauerle (Lakeside/West Hills HS), Nick Thornton (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) and Lucas Crowley (San Jose/Arch Bishop Mitty).

UCLA's newcomers will be led by sophomore transfer Erik Emilsson, who last season was a freshman at Tulane. This summer, Emilsson qualified for the 1500m at Sweden's National Championships and last fall he was a standout performer for the Green Wave cross country team.

'Aragon and Rankin, both underclassmen, will be our team leaders in 2002,' said Peterson, also in his third season coaching the Bruin men's team. 'We will have only one senior (Phil Young) on our roster, so our younger athletes are going to get an immediate opportunity to exhibit their talents.'

Looking Ahead

After the CS Fullerton race, the Bruins will train at Mammoth Lakes, preparing for their next race, at the Big Wave Invitational in Honolulu, HI on Sept. 21.

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