PUNTA UMBRIA, Spain - American record holder Shalane Flanagan (Portland, Ore.) took the individual bronze medal in the senior women's 8 km to lead the U.S. women to their second consecutive team bronze medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Saturday in Punta Umbria, Spain.
Flanagan positioned herself in the top-ten during the first lap of the 2 km loop course, holding steady with the leaders through 6 km.
Heading into the final lap, Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and teammates Linet Masai and Priscah Cherono opened a small gap on Flanagan and Meselech Melkamu and Wude Ayalew of Ethiopia.
Racing through the final kilometer, Cheruiyot pulled clear of Masai for a nine second win in 24:58 while Flanagan moved from seventh to take the Bronze in 25:10.
Team USA placed three more runners in the top-20 with Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.) Magdalena Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) and Blake Russell (Pacific Grove, Calif.) finishing 17th, 18th and 19th in 26:26, 26:27 and 26:30 respectively.
Alissa McKaig (Blowing Rock, N.C.) and Lisa Koll (Portland, Ore.) rounded out the U.S. finishers in 28th and 40th place, running 26:46 and 27:15.
Kenya dominated the team scoring to take the gold with 15 points. Ethiopia took second with 29 points and the U.S. scored 57 points for third.
Cuffe leads junior women
The day of racing began with the junior women’s 6 km, which saw high school senior Aisling Cuffe (Cornwall On Hudson, N.Y.), lead Team USA with a 17th-place finish, running 20:15.
Katie Flood (Des Moines, Iowa) ran a strong race to join Cuffe in the top-20, running 20:18 to finish 19th. Molly Grabill (Poway, Calif.) finished 28th in 20:40 while Julie Nacouzi (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Hannah Valenzuela (Apple Valley, Calif.) finished 81st and 84th in 22:46 and 23:04. Sierra Vega (Santa Ana, Calif.) did not finish due to illness.
Faith Kipyegon of Kenya won the overall title in 18:53, outkicking Genet Yalew of Ethiopia for a one second win. Azmera Gebru finished third in 18:54 as Ethiopia took the team title over Kenya, 17 points to 19. Japan won the team bronze with 75 points. Team USA finished seventh with 175 points.
Lutz leads junior men
High School senior Craig Lutz (Highland Village, Texas) led the U.S. men with a 39th-place finish, running 24:02 in the junior men’s 8 km. Ammar Moussa (Arcadia, Calif.), improved on his 2010 finish at this event, running 24:21 to take 32nd while Max Straneva (Binghamton, N.Y.) and Justin Vilhauer (Visalia, Calif.) rounded out the team scoring places, finishing 45th and 47th in 24:45 and 24:50 respectively. Ryan Poland (Westminster, Colo.) finished 56th in 25:12 and Erik Olson (Novato, Calif.) was unable to finish due to injury.
Geoffrey Kamworor took the overall title in 22:21 to lead Kenya to the junior men’s team title as they scored 20 points for a four point win over Ethiopia, while Uganda took third with 50 points. Team USA scored 153 to finish eighth.
True leads U.S. senior men
In the final race of the day, the senior men’s 12 km. saw the classic matchup between Kenya and Ethiopia for both the overall and team titles. Imana Marga of Ethiopia came out on top in the individual race, running 33:50 for a two second win over Paul Tanui of Kenya. Kenya took the team title, scoring 14 points to Ethiopia’s 38. Uganda was third with 49 points.
Ben True (Hanover N.H.) was the top U.S. finisher in 36th, running 35:56 and Max King (Bend, Ore.) finished 40th in 36:02 while Brent Vaughn (Black Hawk, Colo.) and Andrew Carlson (Minneapolis, Minn.) completed the U.S. team score, finishing 55th and 68th in 36:32 and 36:52 respectively. Brian Olinger (Westerville, Ohio) finished 75th in 37:14 and Andrew Bumbalough (Portland, Ore.) was 78th in 37:24. The U.S. finished tenth in the team race with 199 points.
2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships Athlete Quotes
Ben True: "I haven't done any hurdling, so I didn't know what to expect. Overall the logs helped break up the routine. The trail running that I do back home in New Hampshire helped.
I raced Gate River last week, so I didn't exactly come in very fresh, but overall, I'm happy with it.
Max King: It was a different race for me. I actually was about 60th or 65th at 3k, and actually felt horrible, and I was thinking of giving up right there. Then I thought to myself, "I'm at world cross--I'm here for a reason" I took some water, then I actually started to feel better. The logs and the water helped get me going again.
I can't seem to get past 40th. I'm happy with it for the day.
Maxwell Straneva: The race went very well. I got out well, then I settled down. As the race went on, I tried to keep moving up, but I started to feel it in the last 2k. This was a great experience that I had today, and I want to use this moving forward.
Craig Lutz I thought I ran a really smart race. It hurt, but I expected it to. I always had myself fighting for a position in a group. Every loop, I'd always look back to see where my guys are.
On thing I learned is that I'm a lot faster than I think I am, and I learned what I can push that bar to.
Justin Vilhauer:I sat back for the first 2k. After about 4k, I started picking it up a bit. I started cramping up a bit, but I tried to finish it up as best as I could. With about 300 to go, I tried to reel in as many people as I could.
I have a lot more hard work that I have to do.
Ammar Moussa: My race went great. I got out surprisingly well, as opposed to last year when I was last on my team off the line. At 4k we were all together, and we kept telling ourselves, "let's go!" Craig really got out, but I just put my head down and get as many people as I could.
Shalane Flanagan: I had to rise up and elevate my game today. I was so pleased to be in medal position. It was a lot of fun today. I know that we have to elevate our game in order to be in a medal position. I love the fact that this is a team sport, and there is a great team dynamic going with all of the ladies on the team.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet: It was a tough race. The race seemed really fast, and the heat made it that much harder. We were shooting for second, and we made some strides. If we can come out and encourage our top runners to participate in this race.
Every time that Molly started dropping back, I'd say, "C'mon Molly!", and she would do the same thing to me. Throughout the race, we would exchange encouraging words to each other.
Alissa McKaig: It's amazing to get on the podium! This was my first world cross experience, so I wanted to key off of Magda and Blake, since they knew what they were doing. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good day for me. I think I was starting to feel the log jumps about the third lap; I've never hurdled anything before.
I think this experience makes me want it more. How can you not be inspired after watching Shalane get third?
Aisling Cuffe: The part that I was most nervous about was the start, because I didn't want to fall and get spiked. The African runners went out really fast, and I thought I that I could hang with them. I think I positive split for the whole race, but I managed to hang on for a top 20 finish. My goal was to get top 15.
I have a lot of work I need to do to get where I want to be when I get older. This experience will help motivate me for the rest of my life. I want to get back here when I am a senior.
Molly Grabill: It was a pretty good race. It was pretty hot out there, and the logs kind messed up your strides. It certainly was a quick course. I started out slower, since I knew they were gonna go out fast.
Katie Flood: I started out slower than I normally would to gauge myself against the other girls. From 1 km on, I just steadily tried to move up.
I could see Aisling, and I thought to myself, 'I need to go with my teammate! Get to Aisling, get to Aisling, sand at the end we were one person apart.
This is the coolest cross country race I've ever run in!
For more information on the 2011 World Cross Country Championships visit www.usatf.org.