Top Teams Square Off at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships
Provided by USATF
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – Talented and deep fields line up Saturday morning in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships. The top teams in the country converge on the campus of Lehigh University seeking end-of-season bragging rights as the women race 6,000m and the men compete over 10,000m.
While a half-dozen teams are in the running for the women’s club title, the Boulder Running Company/adidas squad, runner-up in 2013, looks very strong heading into Saturday’s competition. Led by the quartet of Mattie Suver, Rochelle Kanuho, Brianne Nelson and Alisha Williams. Williams owns a seasonal 5k track best of 15:19.79 and Kanuho a 15:25.85, while Nelson and Suver finished third and fifth overall in the USA Running Circuit standings this season. Add in Brittni Hutton, who finished second for the team last year, and Lavenna Kubatzky, and the team is considered the pre-race favorite.
The main challengers to the Boulder Running Company/adidas squad are the teams from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and New York Athletic Club (NYAC). The upstart BAA group follows the veteran lead of Olympian Jen Rhines. Along with Rhines, first-year pros Juliet Bottorff, Elaina Balouris and Emily Lipari, All-Americans at the collegiate level, along with Heather Cappello, Katie Matthews and Sarah Pagano, give the BAA squad a team seven deep and all capable of challenging for top 15-20.
For the NYAC, experienced veterans Esther Erb, Delilah DiCrescenzo, Nicole Schappert, Sarah Cummings and Olympian Julie Culley lead the way. Each individual team member holds numerous accomplishments to their name and if the squad pulls together throughout the 6,000m race, the talent is strong enough to upset the Boulder Running Company/adidas and BAA squads.
On the men’s side, there are a number of fresh faces in this year’s competition. On paper, the Nike/Bowerman Track Club squad is the clear-cut favorite. Led by Olympian Matt Tegenkamp, former American record holder Chris Solinsky and the talented trio of German Fernandez, Ryan Hill and Elliott Heath, this group has the makings of a superstar squad.
Perhaps the strongest challenge to Nike/Bowerman Track Club comes from ZAP Fitness. The North Carolina training group follows the lead of reigning USA Marathon champion Tyler Pennel, former N.C. State All-America Andrew Colley and the talented Cole Atkins and Joe Stilin. The team runs seven deep, which could play to their advantage over the 10,000m race course.
In similar fashion, Team Run Flagstaff and Asics Aggie RC plan to push for the top spot. Team Run Flagstaff follows the lead of marathon standout Nick Arciniaga, Nicholas Hilton and Forrest Misenti, while the Asics Aggie RC will lean on the experienced Scott Bauhs, Phillip Reid and Sergio Reyes to lead them to a low team score.
Similar to the women’s Boulder Running Company/adidas team, the men’s squad holds plenty of talent to challenge for the top prize, as well. Ian Burrell, Andrew Wacker and Scott Dahlberg each have proven success over the fields of cross country.
With over 1,900 athletes registered to race Saturday in Pennsylvania, both the master’s and open races should provide plenty of excitement and drama, creating the perfect ending to an exciting 2014 racing season and the perfect springboard to the year ahead.
The USATF Club Cross Country Championships will be available on demand at USATF.tv. Race video, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #clubxcnats.
Contributed by Scott Bush