INDIANAPOLIS – Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.) and Aaron Braun (Flagstaff, Ariz.) lead the fields this Saturday as the city of St. Louis will host the first of two consecutive USA Cross Country Championships. Both the 2012 and 2013 editions will be held at Forest Park, the site of the 2004 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon.
In addition to the national titles on the line in St. Louis, open and junior men and women will qualify to represent Team USA at the North American, Central American, Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships March 17 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
In the women’s race, Huddle, the American 5,000-meter record holder, leads a field that includes Pan American Games gold medalist in the steeple chase Sara Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz.); five-time World Cross Country team member Renee Metivier Baillie (Boulder, Colo.); and 2011 Team USA steeplechaser Stephanie Garcia (Charlottesville, Va.).
On the men’s side, 2010 USA National Club Cross Country champion Braun will face 2011 USA 8 km champion Bobby Mack (Raleigh, N.C.) and 2008 NCAA Division I steeplechase champion Kyle Alcorn (Mesa, Ariz.).
The championships will consist of six cross country championship races for men’s and women’s categories with national titles on the line for junior, masters and open divisions. The nation’s premier cross country event, the Championships will feature $35,000 in prize money.
The junior men's race will feature Ohio State freshman Michael Bradjic, who competed for Team USA at last month's Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Team Challenge, where he finished seventh to help lead the squad to the team title.
Other contenders to watch include California state cross country champion Darren Fahy of La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, along with Craig Nowak of Cypress Woods HS in Cypress, Texas, and Zach Herriott of Rockhurst HS in Kansas City. Nowak was third in the Nike Cross Nationals, and Herriott was ninth in the same race.
Some of the leading contenders in the junior women's race include Sarah Fakler of Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, who competed for Team USA at last year's NACAC Cross Country Championships in Trinidad, and Grace Tinkey of First Presbyterian Day School in Macon, Georgia, who was sixth in the 2011 Foot Locker cross country championships in San Diego.
Julie Nacouzi, who was a member of Team USA at last year's IAAF world cross country championships in Punta Umbria, Spain, is also in the field and could contend for the national title. Others to watch include University of Wisconsin freshman Jenna McMiller, and NCAA cross country championships competitor Shaylyn Tuite of Syracuse University.
National championships will also be decided for masters men and women at 8 km with titles on the line in five-year age groups beginning at age 40 and up.
The fields will feature masters aces Tracy Lokken (Marquette, Mich.); and Kathryn Martin (Northport, N.Y.).
The USA Cross Country Championships will be webcast in cooperation with RunnerSpace.com at www.USARunningCircuit.com beginning at live beginning at 9:45 a.m. CST.
For more information on the 2012 USA Cross Country Championships visit www.usatf.org.