PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- St. Lawrence, ranked third in the national preseason poll, won the 2011 Cardinal Classic on Saturday afternoon.

The Saints finished with 28 total team points, 12 ahead of the hosting Cardinals of Plattsburgh State.

"The guys followed our race plan very well and at the end of the day, we came out with our first individual and team win of the year," St. Lawrence head coach John Newman said.  "I was especially impressed with the poise that our first-year runners demonstrated throughout the race and the assertiveness of John [Johnston] to take the lead shortly after the mile mark."

Johnston, the reigning Liberty League Runner of the Year, won the event with a time of 15:37.  It was Johnston's second collegiate victory, which includes the 2010 conference title.

Freshman Scott Smolensky had an impressive debut with the Scarlet and Brown, as he finished fifth overall in 15:53, followed by junior Sam Rakoc and senior Seth Jackson in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Sophomore Zach Nelson closed out St. Lawrence's team scoring with a career-best ninth in 16:11, ensuring the Saints' victory.

"Going into the race, we expected a strong challenge from regionally-ranked No. 6 Plattsburgh State on their home course, and they didn't disappoint," Newman said.  "While we are currently gearing up for our first 8k race in two weeks, we were able to get some of our racing juices flowing at today's 5000m distance."

Freshmen Dan Driscoll (10th) and Aaron Tompkins (11th) just missed out on the scoring for the Saints, while senior Jack Knych was 17th overall for his best collegiate finish.