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Kampf, Blankenship Earn Victories at USATF 1 Mile Road Championships


MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a Minnesota sweep at the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships Thursday evening in Minneapolis, as Heather Kampf earned her third consecutive title, while Ben Blankenship won his first USATF Running Circuit.

The USATF 1 Mile Road Championships, hosted by the Medtronic TC 1 Mile, are the fifth stop on the 2016 USATF Running Circuit. Next up on the circuit, the USATF 25 km Road Championships take place on May 14 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As the women’s race got underway, Kampf, who had won two straight and three total USATF 1 Mile Road titles, positioned herself at the front of the pack and pushed the pace early.

Behind Kampf, Christy Cazzola, Brook Handler and Gabriele Grunewald kept close, gaging their early pace off the defending champion.

As the runners hit the halfway mark, Kampf put in a small surge to pull away from the chase pack, building a two second lead as she pushed into the final quarter mile of the race.

Kampf looked over her shoulder and then charged for the finish line in the final straight of the race, crossing victoriously yet again, as the Team USA Minnesota standout won in 4:34.2.

Behind Kampf, Cazzola kicked hard to pull away from the competition and come in a strong second in 4:37.2, while Grunewald closed well to place third in 4:39.0. Handler and Maddie Van Beek placed fourth and fifth overall in 4:40.6 and 4:41.7.

Rounding out the top ten in the women’s race, Ayla Granados ran to a sixth place finish in 4:43.3, while Kampf’s fellow Team USA Minnesota teammate Meghan Peyton came in seventh in 4:45.2. Tabor Scholl placed eighth in 4:47.2, just ahead of ninth place finish Katy Moen in 4:47.7, while Kristen Findley took tenth in 4:48.0.

Similar to the women’s race, Blankenship took the lead early and pushed to make the pace honest. Through the first half of the race, Blankenship had plenty of competition from Garrett Heath, Travis Burkstrand and Riley Masters.

The fast pace wore down the field however, as Blankenship built a sizeable lead with a  quarter mile to go. Coming into the homestretch, the Oregon Track Club Elite runner took a peek over his shoulder, knew victory was in hand, and charged home to a 3:55.8 finish.

Heath held off the field in the final quarter mile to place second in 3:59.7, the only other runner to break the four minute barrier, while former University of Minnesota runner Travis Burkstrand took third in 4:01.4. Duncan Phillips and Brandon Hudgins finished fourth and fifth in 4:01.8 and 4:02.3.

The rest of the top ten saw Lex Williams take sixth in 4:02.8, while Masters faded to seventh in 4:03.5. 2015 NCAA 1500m champion Chad Noelle placed eighth in 4:04.8, holding off ninth place finisher Abbabiya Simbassa and Craig Miller, who finished in 4:05.5 and 4:06.3, respectively.

About the USATF Running Circuit

The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF 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 $25,000 in prize money is awarded at the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships, scoring is set as 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 USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.

Contributed by Scott Bush

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