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Team USATF perseveres to earn fourth in mixed relay at 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships

3/30/2019
 

AARHUS, Denmark—Team USATF’s 4x2km mixed relay team of Kirubel Erassa, Shannon Osika, Jordan Mann, and Eleanor Fulton earned a fourth place finish to highlight competition at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Saturday on the grounds surrounding the Moesgaard Museum.


In the first race of the day, Erassa got the squad off to a good start, running a 6:08 for his lap to place the team in third after the first exchange. Shannon Osika then ran a split of 7:12 as Morocco’s Kaoutar Farkoussi passed her, as the Americans and the Moroccans exchanged places. Jordan Mann then ran a 6:00 split for his 2k leg and handed the wristband off to Eleanor Fulton, who ran a 7:41 anchor leg to give Team USATF a fourth place finish, as Ethiopia took the victory in a final time of 25:49.


Erassa reported about his opening leg, “We started out pretty quick. I tried to stay with them and I came through 4:29 for the first mile, so I tried to keep it there to help the team to try for a top three finish.”


Fulton, the team’s anchor leg, said, “It was brutal. I knew it would brutal. I had a little bit of advice to go out and attack it early and the downhills would take care of themselves. I tried to really push the downs and not relax. The roof is an absolute killer. My legs on top were so dead, but I knew we were in the money, so I knew I had to keep us in fourth.”


Second place team Morocco was originally disqualified one hour after the race for handing off the wristband before the start of the exchange zone, temporarily moving the American foursome to third.  However, an appeal by the Moroccans gave their team back the silver medal and adjusted to the original standings.


The relay team’s fourth place finish is the highest by a USATF squad at the World Cross Country championships since the senior men’s 12k team finished second in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2013.


The men’s Under 20 squad took home a sixth place finish over the 8k distance, scoring 154 points, improving upon their ninth place finish in Kampala, Uganda two years ago. Team USATF was led by junior team captain and reigning national champion Shuaib Aljabaly, who finished 29th in 26:18. He was then followed by Robert Cheeseman, who finished 31st in 26:25.


Mieka Beaudoin-Rousseau finished in 26:35, while Charlie Perry came in 27:07 to round out the four scorers. Gabriel Mudel was 72nd in 27:40, and Khalid Hussein was 86th in 28:15.


In a close battle for the three individual podium spots, Ethiopians Milkesa Mengesha and Tadese Worku went 1-2 in 23:52 and 25:54, while Oscar Chelimo of Uganda took third in 23:55. Ethiopia (18) Uganda (32) and Kenya (34) took the top three team places.


The senior women’s 10k team finished eighth with a final team score of 190 points, led by Stephanie Bruce’s 39th place finish in 39:09. Sarah Pagano, who ran in her second straight world cross country championship race, finished in 39:54, followed by Anne-Marie Blaney in 39:55.


Karissa Schweizer came in at 40:04, while Marielle Hall finished in 40:12, and American steeplechase record holder Courtney Frerichs in 40:59.


Kenya’s Hellen Obiri emerged victorious in 36:14 over Dera Dida of Ethiopia, who was two seconds back, while her teammate Letesenbet Gidey was third in 36:24. Ethiopia (21), Kenya (25), and Uganda (36) were the top three teams.


The senior men’s 10k team took home an 11th place finish with a final score of 198 points.

Olympians Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei led the way for Team USATF, finishing 34th and 35th in times of 33:46 & 33.47. Steeplechase Olympian Hillary Bor ran 34:29, followed by his brother Emmanuel in 34:43. Olympian Leonard Korir came in at 34:53, while Mason Ferlic finished in 34:59.


Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda finished in the top two positions, running 31:40 and 31:44, and in the process, deprived Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamwowor of his third straight world cross country title, as he finished in 31:55. The Ugandans won the team title, scoring 20 points to Kenya’s 43 points, while Ethiopia took third with 46 points.


The women’s Under-20 6k team finished 14th with a final team score of 257 points. Savannah Shaw led the way, crossing the line in 23:29. She then was followed by Grace Ping, who ran 23:45, along with national champion Nicole Clermont in 24:07. Heidi Nielson and Kayla Smith finished together in 24:13 and 24:15, and Riley Rigdon followed in 24:49.


In a race that went down to the wire, Beatrice Chebet won the world title, with Ethiopia’s Alemitu Tariku second and her teammate Tsigie Gebreselama third, as all were credited with the same time of 20:50. Ethiopia put all of its scoring runners in the top ten to win with 17 points, followed by Kenya with 26 points. Japan took the final podium spot with 72 points.


Full results can be found here and fans can watch a replay on NBC Sports Gold.


Team USATF Quotes

Stephanie Bruce: “It was a really tough day. I just kept hearing what place I am, and I was like ‘I’m passing people but I’m still so far back.’ I went in knowing it was going to be this difficult, but I guess I expected when I attacked more people would come back but a lot of people really held their positions so kudos to them. I think being a marathoner really helped because my mentality was who can manage fatigue better and it felt like the last 10k of a marathon.”


Karissa Schweizer: “It was definitely as tough as it looked. The goal was to get out a little conservative and I think I got a little excited in the beginning. We [American women] were trying to keep together and I was visualizing running as a group and that really helped me.”


Shadrack Kipchirchir: “It was pretty tough. Those hills got me. I fell back and then tried to pick it back up but everyone was gone.”


Stanley Kebenei: “I pushed it and pushed it but I couldn’t find that movement because of the hills. I’m satisfied. It was the toughest course I’ve seen in my life but I’m satisfied.”


Mason Ferlic: “The atmosphere was amazing, the race itself and also being with my teammates. These guys are incredible athletes, I feel like i've learned a lot from them and we’ve bonded really well and had really good energy. I love cross and this was the ultimate manifestation of a cross country race.”


Eleanor Fulton: “I had a little bit of advice to go out and attack it early and the downhills would take care of themselves. I tried to really push the downs and not relax. The roof is an absolute killer. My legs on top were so dead, but I knew we were in the money, so I knew I had to keep us in fourth.”


Kirubel Erassa: “We started out pretty quick. I tried to stay with them and I came through 4:29 for the first mile, so I tried to keep it there to help the team to try for a top three finish.


Savannah Shaw: “I just wanted to say how cool this team has been. I was thinking of each of them throughout the race and we were all there for each other, pushing each other the whole way. I’m proud to be an American and be on this team. It’s so, so cool.”


Grace Ping: “I just wanted to focus on being really patient the first lap and then picking people off those next two laps. What really helped me was this team, this group of girls is so amazing and so fun to run with. There aren’t any courses like this back home, so I can look back on this knowing I can do anything.”


Shuaib Aljabaly: “It [the course] is scary looking, it's tough because you don’t have any momentum, you always going uphill and downhill. It just tears you apart mentally. I was ready for this race but maybe could have raced a little smarter. I knew it would be tough, it’s world cross for a reason.


Contributed by Paul Merca




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