BEND, Oregon -- The 2016 USATF Cross Country Championships saw battles from all ages as champions were crowned from juniors to M80. The masters races Saturday saw tight contests, especially in the men’s overall 8 km.
Last year, Jacques Sallberg upset Gregory Mitchell in these championships only to lose to him a month later at the masters 8 km road championship and at the Club Cross Country Championships in December of last year. Sallberg was primed for this one. He bided his time over the first two laps as he and Mitchell ran shoulder to shoulder. But Sallberg shifted into high gear, establishing a 20 second gap over the next loop and doubled his lead over the final loop for a handsome 40-second margin over Mitchell. Sallberg covered the 8K in 27:18.
It was the same story in the women’s 6 km race as Grace Padilla, former American record holder in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, sprinted uphill and established a half minute lead in the first loop over a chase pack of Cindy Abrami and Sonya Wilkerson. They closed a bit over the final 2 km loop but in the end, Padilla still had a 24 second margin as she won in 25:18
The women’s age-grading crown went to 67-year-old Jo Anne Rowland with 76.62 percent, while 61-year-old Rick Becker took the men’s age-grading title with an 85.45 percent.
Mitchell had the consolation of leading his Bowerman Track Club to the M40+ team title. The Cal Coast Track Club took both the Men’s 50+ and 60+ team titles and the Atlanta Track Club took the 70+ crown. Abrami led the Santa Barbara Running and Racing team to the women’s 40+ victory and the Impala Racing team took the women’s 60+ title.
Apart from M40 Sallberg and M60 Becker the age group crowns went to: Rusty Snow, M45; Carl Combs, M50; Michael Gorriara, M55; Doug Winn, M65; Gary Patton, M70 and Ron Mastin, M75. Bill Dodson was the oldest gold medal winner, taking the M80 crown at age 80. In addition to Padilla’s W40 victory and Rowland’s W65, Abrami took W45, Carolyn Daubeny W50, Kelly Kruell W55, Jill Miller-Robinett W60 and Kathy Kusner W75.
Full results from the 2016 USATF Cross Country Championships can be found here and replays of all the races are available on demand on USATF.TV.
Contributed by Paul Carlin