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Olympians set to clash at USATF Cross Country Championships


TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Olympic and World Championship medalists, national champions, experienced veterans and rising stars are set to square off in Tallahassee, Florida Saturday at the USATF Cross Country Championships.


The USATF Cross Country Championships are the first stop on the 2018 USATF Running Circuit. Fans can tune-in for the live broadcast beginning at 10:45am ET on USATF.TV with a +PLUS subscription. Race videos, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race in cooperation with Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USARC.


Leading the way on the men’s side is Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp. Coming off his inspired victory at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last fall, Rupp is set to test his fitness over the 10 km course. While in full preparation for April’s Boston Marathon, Rupp is in fine form heading into Saturday’s contest.


Sure to challenge for victory, reigning USATF Cross Country champion and reigning USATF Running Circuit champion Leonard Korir seeks to build on the success he found in 2017. Korir won an incredible four USATF titles last year, while placing second in two other USATF Running Circuit events. His dominance over the 10,000m on the track and roads, as well as defending his title, should give him plenty of confidence heading into race weekend.


Olympian Evan Jager is also entered in Saturday’s event. Jager, who took silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the Olympic Games in Rio and earned bronze at the World Championships this past summer, rarely runs over 5 km and will receive an early season test of his race endurance.


The U.S. Army will have a strong presence in Tallahassee, as well. In addition to Korir, teammates Haron Lagat, Augustus Maiyo and Elkanah Kibet are all fully capable of top five finishes. Add in American Distance Project training partners Stanley Kebenei, who placed second at last year’s USATF Cross Country Championships, and Abbabiya Simbassa, and the group could very well place a half dozen runners in the top ten.


USATF Running Circuit veteran Tim Ritchie, the reigning USATF Marathon champion, always shows well when healthy. He’s joined by experienced cross country pros Luke Puskedra and Ian La Mere, both of who are looking to start their 2018 seasons off with a top five performance.


Rounding out the field, 2017 USATF Cross Country Championship eighth and ninth place finishers Scott Fauble and Joseph Gray are entered, as is veteran Aaron Braun, who placed 12th at the Chicago Marathon back in October.


Headlining the women’s field are Bowerman Track Club teammates and World Championship medalists Courtney Frerichs and Emily Infeld. The duo will no doubt look to test their early season fitness in Tallahassee, while challenging for the overall win.


Frerichs earned silver in London last summer in the 3000 steeplechase, earning one of the breakout performances of the entire World Championships. In addition, she finished fourth at the USATF Cross Country Championships last season and is the top returnee Saturday. For Infeld, she looks to build on her sixth place finish in the 10,000m in London.


Their most notable competition could come from fellow Portland-based runner Jordan Hasay. The Nike Oregon Project standout finished third at the Chicago Marathon last fall, her time of 2:20:57 ranking her as the second fastest American in history. While she’s preparing to compete at the Boston Marathon, Hasay will no doubt compete for victory.


Adding to the front running mix is Molly Seidel, who is seeking to build some heavy momentum as her season starts to heat up. Healthy and looking to make her mark at the professional level, the former Notre Dame standout finished second at the USATF 5 km Championships last fall, one spot ahead of Rogers, and looks to capture her cross country success, which led to her winning the NCAA Cross Country title in 2015.


Others surely to compete for a top five finish are Stephanie Bruce, Chelsea Blaase and Olivia Pratt. Bruce placed seventh at the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championship and is the second leading returnee, while Hansons-Brooks runners Blaase and Pratt bring considerable cross country experience to the mix.


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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