New Champions Crowned at USATF National Club Cross Country Championships
Provided by USATF
LEXINGTON, Kentucky – There was a chill in the air, a bite to the wind and frost on the ground as runners took to Masterston Station Park for the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
Click here for full results and here to watch on demand video on USATF.TV+.
In the men’s and women’s open races, Sarah Pagano and Ian Le Mere triumphed to victory over steep competition. Pagano made her way to the front toward the halfway mark of the Women's 6 km race, snatching the lead with a confident stride to win in 19:40.0.
Over in the Men’s Open 10 km, the pack of Emmanuel Kor, Ryan Mahalsky and Ian La Mere stayed together through most of the race behind Morgan Pearson. In its final moments, La Mere pushed through to capture first place with a winning time of 29:10.0.
Masters athletes take on Masterson Station Park
Joe Sheeran intended to go our hard and take his rivals out of the picture in the 8 km and that is what he did, hitting the halfway split with over a half minute gap on his closest pursuer, Ken Youngers, with another ten seconds back to Matthew Curran and Rick Becker. John Barbour, who was in contention through the early stages, had to leave the course when an Achilles injury, sustained just after he won the Masters 5km national championship in October, flared up. Sheeran poured it on over the 2nd 4K loop, winning by over a minute in 29:29. The others shuffled their positions as Becker, the 2015 winner in San Francisco, was able to overcome the other two with a late surge. Youngers and Curran finished 3rd and 4th. Sheeran and Becker’s 1-2 finish led the way for their Club NW (Pacific Northwest) team to take the Masters 60+ team title. The Atlanta Track Club (Georgia) and the Shore Athletic Club (New Jersey) rounded out the podium.
As the morning proceeded, the cold moderated ever so slightly but the winds picked, up so wind chills were still only in the upper teens for the Masters Women who went off at 10 AM on their 6 km circuit. In 2015, the last time Kris Paaso participated in Club Cross Country nationals, she competed as an Open athlete. This year, at age 46, she opted for the Masters Championships and found plenty of competition. At the halfway point, another newcomer to the Masters Championships, Brennan Liming, was matching her stride for stride, with Margaret Brennan two seconds back, and last year’s winner and runner-up, Sonja Friend-Uhl and Janet McDevitt tracking them a few seconds back. Paaso had plenty in the tank though as she ran a negative split, covering the first 3K loop in 11:06 and finishing at 22:04! Liming may have paid a price for that early speed as first Brennan and then Friend-Uhl, known for her strong finish, moved past. This was Brennan’s first podium finish at Club Nationals but Friend-Uhl’s 3rd consecutive. Liming just missed the podium, followed by Kelly Couch and McDevitt. Friend-Uhl had the great satisfaction of leading the Atlanta Track Club to the Women’s 40+ title, followed by the Impala Racing Team [Pacific] and the Bull City Track Club [North Carolina].
The men’s 40+ 10K race was the final Masters race, going off at 10:45 am with a ‘balmy’ 22-degree wind chill. The word on the street was the Neville Davey, after finishing 3rd last year, was primed for a winning run at Club XC this year. He had a sub 1:10 Half Marathon earlier in the year, and topped that off with a sub-15 minute 5K a couple of weeks ago. Even though he was tipped as the favorite no one was conceding. A pack of 8 runners sped through the first 4K loop in 13:19: Frankie Adkins, David Angell, Davey, John Gardiner, who took 3rd last year, John Howell, Jorge Maravilla, Greg Mitchell, who finished 2nd last year, and Jef Scott. Davey made his surge with a mile to go, and no one could go with him, as he sped into the finish line with a 32:33 and a 19 second margin of victory. In the furious kick to the finish, Howell had enough power to edge Maravilla for 2nd by 5 seconds, with Davey another 4 seconds back just off the podium. Davey also led his team, the West Valley Track Club (Pacific) to victory over the defending champion Bowerman Track Club (Oregon), who fell to 3rd, as the Boston Athletic Association (New England) claimed 2nd by a mere 7 points!
Team Championships were also decided in the Women’s 50+ and 60+ and the Men’s 50+ and 70+ divisions. The Jane’s Elite Racing (Southern Cal) rode a solid 2-3-5 finish by their top 3 to a 3 point win over the Athena Track Club (Mid-Atlantic) with Club Northwest rounding out the Women’s 50+ podium. Team Red Lizard (Oregon) enjoyed a dominant win in the 60+ division as their top 3 took 1-2-4, with the Atlanta Track Club edging the Impala Racing by a single point for 2nd. The Greater Springfield Harriers (New England) enjoyed a dominant win in Men’s 50+ as their top 3 runners came in 1-3-6. The Cal Coast Track Club (Southern Cal) and the Prado Racing (San Diego-Imperial) took the next two spots. In Men’s 70+, it was the Tamalpa Runners (Pacific) defending their 2016 team win with another dominating performance by their top 3, 2-3-6. The Eastside Runners (Pacific Northwest) and the Genesee Valley Harriers (Niagara Association) rounded out the podium in that order.
Age-Grading Medals and cash prizes went to the Age-Grading winner in each of the three Championship races. The Overall winner and 2nd place finisher in Men’s 60+ went 1-2 in age-grading as well with Sheeran edging Becker 88.4 to 87.7. In the Men’s 40+ race, the top 9 age-grade scores were achieved by those in the 50-54 and 55-59 divisions, with Greater Springfield’s Nat Larson edging his fellow New Englander, the B.A.A.’s Peter Hammer, 91.7 to 90.1. Top age-grading scorer on the women’s side is 2017 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, Sabra Harvey, who is, as she suggested in her interview after accepting the recent honor, continuing to push the boundaries. Jeanette Groesz, also in the 65-69 division, finished second.
In addition to those mentioned above, Margaret Brennan 40-44, Kris Paaso 45-49, Sabra Harvey 65-69, Neville Davey 40-44, Jef Scott 45-49, Nat Larson 55-59, Joe Sheeran 60-64, the following National Champions were crowned: Marisa Sutera Strange 50-54, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso 55-59, Jill Miller-Robinett 60-64, Dianne Anderson 70-74, Mary Nagle 75-79, Tami Graf 80-84, Peter Hammer 50-54, James Foster 65-69, David Longmuir 70-74, James Callaway 75-79, Jim Askew 80-84.
USATF Media Chair