STOCKTON — More than 125 varsity runners competed Thursday at Oak Grove Regional Park in the first of four San Joaquin Athletic Association 5-kilometer cross country meets.

Under its new format, the Bear Creek boys and the McNair girls claimed 5-0 marks in the SJAA standings by virtue of defeating the other four schools in a head-to-head format.

In the boys standings, Franklin is second (4-1), followed by McNair (3-2), Stagg (2-3), Chavez (1-4) and Edison (0-5). For the girls, Bear Creek is second at 4-1, followed by Edison (3-2), Franklin (2-3), and Stagg and Chavez at 0-5.

Because the fourth and final race will be worth double the points, the most points a team can accumulate over a season is 25. The total points will determine the SJAA champion.

"We did it to move in step with the rest of the section," Bear Creek coach Jason Johnson said. "In a setting like this, it motivates the runners more because there's more competition. It's a chance to showcase their talents."

McNair junior Nathalie Munguia claimed first among the 35 girls with a time of 19 minutes 52 seconds, followed by Bear Creek's Cassidy Byrne (22:42), McNair's Angela Estrada (23:01), and Bear Creek's Delaney Byrne (23:10) and Anastasia Serratos (24:07).

Munguia actually took a season off from running after claiming the varsity girls title as a freshman. She said she needed the time to improve her grade point average with college on the horizon.

"Honestly, I didn't know what to think coming in," Munguia said. "I didn't know who I was up against. This win makes it feel like a comeback. It's a good way to start, but there's always room for improvement."

Among the 86 boys, Bear Creek junior Justin Alexander's time of 16:42 kept him undefeated over his two-year SJAA career. Despite his tendonitis, Alexander overtook Franklin's Mario Munoz (16:52) with a half mile remaining.

"I'm glad (Munoz) gives me something to run against," Alexander said. "For me it's really important to come out strong. This first race is what everyone sets as a mark for the rest of the season."

Third for the boys was Bear Creek's Ryen Loy (18:18.43), who overtook teammate Justin Ho (18:18.93) by exactly a half-second at the finish line. Franklin's Carlo Madrigal rounded out the top five (18:25).

TCAL meet

TRACY — Lodi coach Greg Wright believed the varsity boys race would be decided between his Flames and the Tokay Tigers by a single point either way in their Tri-City Athletic League opener.

Though the two schools tied at 35 points, Lodi earned a tie-breaking victory as freshman Lucas Fonda was the higher sixth-team finisher compared to Tokay by crossing the finish line 12th overall (18:37) to hand the Flames the win Thursday at Eagal Lakes east of Tracy.

Tokay senior Andres Sandoval easily blazed to the win of the varsity boys race (16:43) and teammate Aldo Perez finished a distant second (17:12), but Lodi had six of the next 10 placers to fuel the win.

For Lodi, Logan Arlin finished third (17:20), Peter Vo (17:31) was fourth, and James Angel (18:16), Bryson Goehring (18:20) and Tyler Davis (18:24) placed eighth, ninth and 11threspectively.

St. Mary’s (87) was third in the team points, followed by Lincoln (88), West (145) and Tracy (152).

Lodi junior Rachel Maddox helped give the Flames a varsity sweep by winning the girls race (21:40) ahead of Lincoln’s Arica Aninag (21:55) in second and Tracy’s Kayla Archer in third (21:59).

Maddox broke away from a large contingent bunched together after the mile mark and took advantage of the hilly course to pull away.

“I usually take the downhills pretty fast, so I think that might have helped a little bit,” said Maddox, who won her second race of the year. “We mess around a lot but our team is pretty close.”

Lodi’s Ruth Hernandez (22:32) placed sixth, and teammates Maria Hernandez (23:15), Paige Sefried (23:56) and Jordan Morton (24:01) finished eighth, 11th and 12th,respectively, as Lodi was the low finisher with 38 points.

Lincoln (50) was second, followed by Tokay (82), Tracy (114), St. Mary’s (116) and West (118) respectively.

“It’s a hard working group of girls,” Wright said. “A lot of credit goes to (Maddox) and Ruth (Hernandez) because when they get into practice they really work on pushing the other girls. When it comes meet time the other girls are able to move up and allow the team to win the race.”