Derrick, Simpson eye titles at USA Cross Country Championships
INDIANAPOLIS – Defending USA Cross Country champion Chris Derrick and Olympian Jenny Simpson headline Saturday’s men’s and women’s senior fields at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, Colorado.
The USA Cross Country Championships are the second stop on the 2014 USA Running Circuit, which concludes this fall with the .US National Road Racing Championships. The top ten finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the .US National Road Racing Championships.
In 2013, Derrick ran away from three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, storming the course in St. Louis while winning his first USA national championship. Derrick’s performance led to a tenth place individual finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, guiding the U.S. squad to a silver medal finish. The Portland-based runner is off to an undefeated start in 2014, taking home top prize at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race in early January.
Derrick’s teammate at those IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Bobby Mack III., should challenge for the win Saturday, as well. Mack ran a stellar 2013 season, finishing seventh at the USA Cross Country Championships, then placing 19th at Worlds. Proving his talent to compete in cross country time and time again, Mack finished as the second American at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race last month, where he placed fourth overall.
Luke Puskedra is another athlete with plenty of cross country success to his name. The former University of Oregon All-American finished eighth at the 2013 USA Cross Country Championships and enters Saturday’s race coming off of a sixth place performance at the USA Half Marathon Championships last month.
2013 USA Marathon Champion, Nick Arciniaga, is looking for a top three finish, as well. While he’s had a very quiet start to his 2014 season, he’s one of the stronger competitors in the field and has shown he has both the experience and the tenacity to push for a top finish.
Other notable contenders include strong USA Club Cross Country Championship performers Joseph Gray, Sean Quigley and Brent Vaughn. Gray ran away from the field in Bend, scoring an impressive win back in mid-December. Quigley finished second, while Vaughn finished fourth, and both have a home course advantage currently residing in Boulder.
The rest of the men’s field is filled with veterans, all of whom are capable of challenge for a top five finish. Twelfth place USA Half Marathon Championships finisher Jonathan Grey seeks to build on his early 2014 success, while Christopher Landry, Joe Moore, Tyler McCandless, Patrick Smythe and Jacob Riley round out the list of notable competitors.
In the women’s race, Jenny Simpson, an Olympian and a World Championship medalist, tests her talents in cross country for the second time this season after finishing third place in a 6k race in Italy. The Boulder-based athlete certainly figures to have the hometown crowd behind her, while coming off a terrific runner-up effort at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in the two-mile last weekend.
Sure to give Simpson a challenge, Colorado Springs-based Mattie Suver looks to improve on her seventh place finish at the USA Cross Country Championships in 2012. Suver earned a spot on Team USA and finished 26th overall at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. That experience, along with her fine sixth place performance at the USA Half Marathon Championships last month, give her a nice edge heading into Saturday’s action.
Suver’s teammates Alisha Williams and Rochelle Kanuho look to challenge for top three finishes, as well. Both athletes rank in the top ten nationally over 5,000 meters indoors, after running 15:34.28 (Williams) and 15:59.13 at the Washington Invitational in late-January.
Meanwhile, Flagstaff-based Amy Van Alstine looks to continue her racing season by building on her USA Club Cross Country Championships runner-up effort back in mid-December. Same goes for fifth place finisher, and fellow Northern Arizona Elite teammate, Kellyn Johnson.
A few athletes look to continue their success from the USA Half Marathon Championships, as ninth place finisher Alia Gray, tenth place finisher Kara Lubieniecki and 12th place finisher Meghan Peyton all have aspirations of challenging for a top five finish.
With plenty of talent in both the men’s and women’s fields, the race for a top ten finish promises to be fierce, as athletes look to build upon their early season success and score points towards the USA Running Circuit standings.
USATF.tv will provide live video coverage of the USA Cross Country Championships from 12-3 p.m. ET before USATF.tv broadcasts the NYRR Millrose Games at 5 p.m. and The Cool Down at 7 p.m. The Cool Down is a new original series showcasing athlete interviews, performance highlights and live debates on the latest in track & field.
About the USARC
The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $30,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USA Cross Country Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USARC is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country’s #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.