They call themselves Benny and the Jets and Cal State Los Angeles lived up to the name Saturday, flying past all comers to win the California Collegiate Assn. men's cross-country title at Cal State Northridge.
Behind the 1-2-3 finish of Benny Cruz, Rob Arsenault and Jesus Sandoval, the Golden Eagles soared to their first CCAA cross-country title with 36 points.
Defending CCAA champion Cal Poly San Luis Obispo placed second (56), UC Riverside was third (63) and CSUN finished a disappointing fourth (87).
In the women's race, CSUN's Darcy Arreola won her first CCAA cross-country title and Cal Poly SLO won its ninth straight team title.
Cruz, a standout from Burbank High, took command of the race early to lead by four seconds at the one-mile mark (4 minutes, 44 seconds) and by 22 seconds after three miles (14:31).
"I felt tight before the race so I just decided to take it out," Cruz said. "I figured I might loosen up if I went out hard."
Although he slowed to 10:44 in the final two miles, Cruz ran 25:15 over the rain-swept, five-mile course.
In the women's race, Northridge placed second behind five-time defending NCAA Division II champion Cal Poly SLO.
The Lady Mustangs scored 21 points by placing five runners in the top seven.
With CSLA's Sylvia Mosqueda resting for next week's West regionals and defending NCAA Division II champion Gladees Prieur of Cal Poly SLO having scratched because of illness, Arreola won easily.
Arreola, the conference titlist at 800 and 1,500 meters in track, was named CCAA women's cross-country athlete of the year. Cruz won the men's award.