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Mackey, Blankenship, Nomad Track Club and Tinman Elite earn national titles at USATF National Cross Country Championships


SPOKANE, Washington — Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts pulled away from the field over the final mile to win the women’s 6k race at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex Saturday.

On a cold but cloudy afternoon with temperatures in the low 30s, Mackey ran alongside her Beasts teammate Allie Buchalski in the lead pack that included NACAC steeplechase champ Mel Lawrence, Anne-Marie Blaney and Olivia Pratt from the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, Grace Barnett of the Mammoth Track Club and Rachel Johnson of Asics, who ran up front early.

With about 1000 meters to go, Mackey took command of the race, and pushed the pace, ultimately opening up a six-second gap over Blaney to win her second career USATF national title, crossing the line in 19:35.

Afterwards, Mackey said that today’s race was about going out and having fun.

“Cross country is all about racing. Today was like a game. After all, sport is play.”

She said that as the race went on, she felt good and kept picking up the pace. After Blaney, NACAC champ Lawrence finished third in 19:43, followed by Barnett in 19:45. Early leader Johnson hung on for fifth in 19:46, followed by Pratt in 19:47 and Buchalski in seventh at 19:49.

Boise State alum Emma Bates, who six days earlier, won the USATF marathon title at the California International Marathon in Sacramento in her debut at the distance, finished eighth in 19:56, with Idaho Distance Project teammate and 2017 world cross country team member Marisa Howard ninth in 19:57.

Katy Jermann of Team USA Minnesota rounded out the top ten in 19:58, as all of the top ten finishers crossed the line under 20 minutes.

The Nomad Track Club took the women’s team title with a low score of 71 points, led by University of Oregon alum and former U-20 world cross country team member Molly Grabill, who finished 17th in 20:16.

Also scoring for the Nomad TC were former University of Kentucky All-American Cally Macumber, who was 18th in 20:18, followed by Rebecca Wade in 30th place at 20:34. Rounding out the scorers for Nomad TC were Ashley Stinson in 34th at 20:41, and Elizabeth Weiler in 41st at 20:50.

The defending women’s champion Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project finished second with 74 points, while the Idaho Distance Project finished third with 91 points.

The women’s race featured 271 finishers, with 32 teams scoring.

In the men’s 10k, 2016 Olympic 1500 meter finalist Ben Blankenship of the Nike Oregon Track Club found himself in a large group of about 20 runners early on, with over 400 other runners behind the group of twenty.

As the race progressed, the lead group of twenty splintered into two groups, with Gonzaga University alum Willie Milam, competing for the Roots Running Project doing the early work in front of friends.

Among those lurking behind Milam were Blankenship, his Rio Olympic teammate Hillary Bor of the American Distance Project, Ryan Mahalsky of the Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project, Sam Parsons and Morgan Pearson of Tinman Elite, veteran Garrett Heath and Michael Eaton of the Brooks Beasts, Boise State alum David Elliott, and another former world U20 team member, Craig Nowak of Asics Furman Elite.

Milam eventually faded all the way to tenth, as Blankenship took the win in 29:21, six seconds ahead of Bor. Mahalsky was third in 29:28, with Parsons fourth in 29:29. Heath was fifth in 29:30, with Elliott sixth at 29:35.

Rounding out the top ten were Nowak in 29:44 for seventh, Eaton eighth in 29:46, with Pearson ninth in the same time, and Milam tenth in 29:48.

With three runners in the top 11 places, Tinman Elite staved off the challenge of the Brooks Beasts to defend its national title with 53 points.

Behind Sam Parsons and Morgan Pearson were Connor Winter in 11th at 29:50, Jeffrey Thies in 19th at 30:07, and Kyle Medina in 31st at 30:23.

The Brooks Beasts finished second with 67 points, while the American Distance Project took third with 98 points.

420 runners finished the race, while 50 teams scored.

Contributed by Paul Merca, USATF Cross Country Council

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