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Reigning Champion Huddle Eyes Repeat at USA 5 km Championships


INDIANAPOLIS -- Local favorite Molly Huddle seeks her third straight victory at the USA 5 km Championships Sunday morning in Providence, Rhode Island, hosted by the CVS Health Downtown 5k. While Huddle is the heavy favorite in the women’s race, the men’s race is wide open, as 2013 champion Andrew Bumbalough is a late scratch.


The USA 5 km Championships are the tenth stop on the USA Running Circuit, which concludes on November 16 with the .US National 12K in historic Alexandria, Virginia. The top ten finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the .US National 12K.


Huddle, who lives and trains in Providence, looks to continue her incredible season. She set the U.S. 5,000m record on the track with a 14:42.64 effort, while on her USA 7 Mile and 20 km Championship victories. Huddle currently fifth overall in the USA Running Circuit standings with 30 points, 16 points behind leader Sara Hall, but only seven points behind second place Mattie Suver. A strong showing Saturday could see Huddle move into a strong second position, but she’ll have plenty of competition as five other top ten finishers from 2013 are entered.


Following Huddle closely are Hall and Emily Infeld. Hall, who has three third place finishes on the USA Running Circuit this season, would be a co-favorite with Huddle entering Sunday’s race if she didn’t rupture her appendix less than two months ago. While Hall is back to training at a high level, it remains to be seen what type of race shape she’s in.


For Infeld, she’s hoping to continue to gain momentum on her 2014 season. Out much of the first half of the year due to injury, the Portland-based runner finished fourth at the highly competitive Wharf to Wharf road race. Having finished second at the USA 5 km Championships last fall, her familiarity with the course gives her a leg up on the competition.


Nike Oregon Project teammates Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain and Tara Erdmann are entered and each capable of finishing top three. Hasay is having a very successful first full season as a professional. A new personal best on the track over 5,000m and two solid road race performances at the Beach to Beacon 10k and NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile bode well for the former NCAA champion.


Cain enters off of a rust-busting tenth place effort at the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile. Having skipped much of the second half of the track and field season after winning the IAAF World Junior Championships 3,000m title, Cain isn’t necessarily in her best shape, but is always in content for the win. Meanwhile, Erdmann enters off of a solid fifth place showing at Wharf to Wharf, hoping to end her 2014 racing season on a high note.


Savvy veterans Amy Van Alstine and Ashley Higgins are fully capable of top three finishes, too. Van Alstine hasn’t raced much since early on in the summer, but her win at the USA Cross Country Championships and tenth place showing at this event last year show she’s both experienced and talented enough to truly compete. For Higgins, 2014 is treating her very well, with new track personal bests over the 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m. As she shifts to the roads,  she looks to maintain equal success.


Freshly minted pro Elaina Balouris, who finished fifth over 10,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this year, along with Olympian Jen Rhines, 2013 fifth place finisher Neely Spence Gracey, seventh place finisher Meaghan Peyton and ninth place finisher Katie Matthews all look for strong performances in Providence. Keep an eye on Natosha Rogers as well, as the former NCAA 10,000m champion takes on her most notable foot race since 2012.


While heavy favorites dominate the pre-race chatter on the women’s side, the men’s side is far more open. Reigning champion Andrew Bumbalough withdrew from competition earlier in the week after a tough outing at the IAAF Continental Cup this past weekend. While Bumbalough won’t be competing in Providence, last year’s runner-up Aaron Braun is. After finishing fourth at the USA 10 km Championships earlier this season, Braun is coming off of a break, looking to build his fitness back to where it was last season at this time.


Behind Braun, World Championship 1,500m medalist Matthew Centrowitz looks to build on his late season efforts, including a sixth place showing at the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile last weekend. He enters Sunday’s competition with a 13:20.06 5,000m best on the track.


Entering with the most momentum on his side, Girma Mecheso looks to maintain the success he saw earlier this month at the USA 20 km Championships, where he won his first national title. Along with a runner-up finish at the USA 10 Mile Championships earlier in the year, Mecheso has a terrific opportunity to move into second place in the USARC standings. He currently sits in a tie for third with 27 points and is a mere two points off second place Sean Quigley. Leader Christo Landry is not set to compete in Providence, but maintains an enormous lead with 76 points.


Along with Mecheso, Quigley seeks his second USARC title on the season. After a big-time win at the USA 7 Mile Championships, where he edged Landry in a sprint to the finish, Quigley came back with a solid sixth at the USA 20 km Championships. If Quigley can match the peak he found at the USA 7 Mile Championships, he’ll be a sure contender for the title Sunday.


Jonathan Peterson and Diego Estrada are two other notable entries. Peterson finished fifth at the USA 7 Mile Championships in late July, while Estrada ran to a fourth place effort at the beginning of this month at the USA 20 km Championships. Peterson is on a tear this season, having run new PRs on the track over the mile, 3k and 5k distances and hopes to continue the rapid rate of improvement this weekend.


Two other top ten finishers from 2013 are entered, as well. Fifth place finisher Joe Stilin and ninth place finisher Joe Moore each hope to improve their finish in the 2014 edition. Veterans Brett Gotcher, German Fernandez and Ben Bruce, along with rising stars Trevor Dunbar, Andrew Colley, Miles Batty and Patrick Geoghegan round out the field.


Live Coverage

Live text updates of the USA 5 km Championships will be available at beginning at 11:00 am ET. Video of the race, 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.


About the USARC

The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA 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 $30,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USA 5 km Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (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 USARC is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.


Contributed by Scott Bush



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