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Korir repeats, Infeld impresses at USATF Cross Country Championships

2/3/2018
 

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Emily Infeld outlasted Molly Seidel to win the senior women’s race, while Leonard Korir outkicked fellow Olympian Galen Rupp to repeat as senior men’s champion at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Florida Saturday, the first stop on the 2018 USATF Running Circuit.

 

Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, the senior women’s race got underway, as a pack of eight runners quickly positioned themselves at the front of the field, taking charge of the early pacing duties.

 

Led by the quartet of Molly Seidel, Bowerman Track Club teammates Emily Infeld and Courtney Frerichs, as well as USATF Running Circuit veteran Stephanie Bruce, the top pack maintained an even cadence throughout the first half of the 10 km race.

 

Passing through 5 km, the lead quartet started to open up a gap on the rest of the pack, with only Emily Durgin keeping contact. Seidel and Infeld did much of the work to carry the group along, running next to each other stride for stride.

 

Just past the 6 km mark, Frerichs and Durgin started to fall back, clearly not able to handle the increasingly torrid pace. The trio of Seidel, Infeld and Bruce would stay together until 8 km, when Seidel and Infeld shifted into another gear, which Bruce simply couldn’t match.

 

With less than a mile to go, Seidel and Infeld put in their own surges, working hard to break the other athlete. Each covered the moves and neither showed any signs of weakness. The two distance runners continued to press, until Infeld made one final push with less than 800 meters to go.

 

As Infeld zeroed in on the finish, she continued to push the pace, building her lead with every stride over Seidel. Crossing the line, arms raised and a smile on her face, Infeld captured her first USATF Running Circuit title in 33:18.7.

 

Seidel never relented, carrying on her momentum and only losing minimal ground on Infeld. The former Notre Dame standout pushed all the way to the line, capturing second in 33:22.1.

 

Coming in third was Bruce, who managed to keep her strong lead over the rest of the field. The HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite standout crossed the line over 20 seconds ahead of fourth place Frerichs in 33:34.1, as Frerichs finished in 33:55.1 with a furious kick over fifth place Durgin in 33:56.9.

 

To sixth place there was a 43 second gap, as Susan Tanui grabbed the spot in 34:39.0. Rounding out the top ten were Katrina Spratford in 34:45.3, Obsie Birru in 35:32.1, Rachel Schilkowsky in 35:49.0 and Sandie Raines in 35:51.9.

 

Next up was the senior men’s race. With a deep field headlined by a quartet of Olympians, the race promised to be lively the entire way.

 

As the gun sounded, the U.S. Army team, led by Robert Cheseret and Elkanah Kibet, jumped to the lead. With Stanley Kebenei joining them, the group led a pack of more than 20 men through the early stages of the race.

 

As the runners started to come up on the 5 km mark, Scott Fauble jumped to the lead, with Evan Jager, Kebenei and Kibet in charge just off of Fauble’s shoulder. The push in pace kept the lead pack honest, as a few men fell off the back, bringing the lead number to 16.

 

As the lead pack rolled through the halfway 5 km split in 14:46, Fauble continued to push the pace, with Galen Rupp on his shoulder, followed by a pack still consisting of over a dozen runners, with all of the top contenders still within contact.

 

The group maintained form until 7 km, when Martin Hehir pushed the pace again, this time stringing the pack out to where a pack of 10 men maintained their standing in the front.

 

Passing through 8 km, Rupp shot to the lead, pushing a hard pace to string out the rest of the lead pack. As the runners dropped off pace, it was only Korir who stayed with the Olympic bronze medalist.

 

Throughout the final mile, the two battled, each putting in their own surges, trying to game the other and open up space. Neither broke the other until the final 200 meters, when Korir put in one final push, gapping Rupp ever so slightly, a lead he would never relinquish.

 

Korir crossed the line victoriously, repeating as USATF Cross Country champion, just over a second ahead of Rupp in 29:16.6. Rupp, spent from his effort, finished second in 29:17.9, well ahead of the rest of the field.

 

Over the final 400 meters, steeplechase specialists Kebenei and Jager waged their own battle. Each had the lead at one point or another, and just when Kebenei looked like he could hold off Jager, Jager made one final push. Across the finish, it was Kebenei finishing one-hundredth of a second ahead of Jager, as the two earned third and fourth in 29:31.4-29:31.5.

 

Hehir hung on to earn an impressive fifth place finish of 29:33.7, while Abbabiya Simbassa kept form to earn sixth place in 29:34.4, just ahead of seventh place Aaron Braun, who crossed in 29:34.8.

 

Rounding out the top ten was Fauble, who maintained form over the final mile to cross in eighth in 29:39.3, while MJ Erb and Haron Lagat placed ninth and tenth in 29:42.3 and 29:46.5 respectively.

 

The next stop on the USATF Running Circuit takes place March 10 in Jacksonville, Florida, as the USATF 15 km Championships once again assemble a world-class field of competitors

 

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 $27,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Cross Country Championships

 

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Cross Country Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5 ,9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3 and 2, 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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