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Houston to host USA Cross Country Championships
2-11-2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
(317) 713-4690
Tom.Surber@usatf.org

INDIANAPOLIS - America’s finest cross country runners, including returning champions Deena Drossin, Meb Keflezighi and Timothy Moore, will compete at the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships February 15-16 at Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, Tex.

In addition to crowning national champions, the USA Cross Country Championships serve as the selection event for the U.S. team that will compete at the 2003 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, March 29-30 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.

More than 500 athletes will compete in six championship races that will be conducted in Houston. The top six finishers in the Senior (open/no age limit) and Junior (age 19 and under) competitions qualify for the U.S. team that will travel to Lausanne for the World Championships. In addition, the U.S. Masters Men and Women National 6 km Cross Country Championships for athletes ages 40 and over will take place on Saturday, February 15.

The event will be hosted by the Houston Harriers and the Gulf Association of USA Track & Field. Sponsors of the event are Southwest Bank of Texas and Academy Sports & Outdoors. Buffalo Bayou Park, located just west of downtown along Allen Parkway, previously hosted the USA Championships in 1977 when Nick Rose won the men’s event. The site also hosted the 1997 USA Women’s World Cross Country Team Trials, won by former Villanova star Nnenna Lynch.

The Buffalo Bayou Park circuit features a spectator-friendly, international-style 2000-meter loop grass course. Competitors will be challenged by relatively short, steep hills and many turns on the course alongside Buffalo Bayou.

Many of America’s top distance runners are expected to compete, including defending champions, Deena Drossin (Women’s 8 km), Meb Keflezighi (Men’s 12 km) and Timothy Moore (Junior Men). Carmen Ayala-Troncoso also will defend her USA Masters Women’s title.

In winning her fifth U.S. 8 km national cross country title at the 2002 USA Winter Nationals in Vancouver, Washington, Drossin easily defended her crown by a 15-second margin over runner-up Colleen De Reuck. Drossin went on to win the individual silver medal, leading the Team USA women’s 8 km squad to the team silver medal at the 2002 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, Ireland. Drossin’s 2002 campaign also included and American record on the track at 10,000 meters (30:52.32) and the world best for 5,000 meters on the roads (14:54).

Keflezighi, who placed 14th at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, defended his U.S. 12 km cross country title last year by edging Abdi Abdirahman in a photo finish. The 2000 Olympic Trials 10,000m champion, Keflezighi set the American record in that event in 2001 with his time of 27:13.98. The owner of four NCAA titles, Keflezighi ended the 2002 season ranked #1 in the U.S. at 5,000m and 10,000m by T&FN.

A press release previewing this weekend’s races will be issued on Thursday.

The schedule for this year’s U.S. Cross Country Championships follows. All times are Central Standard Time.

February 15, 2003 9:30 a.m. Community 4 km Fun Run 10:45 p.m. 10:30 a.m. Masters Women’s 6 km Championship 11:30 a.m. Masters Men’s 6 km Championship 12:15 p.m. Junior Women’s 6 km Championship 12:45 p.m. Senior Men’s 4 km Championship 1:15 p.m. Senior Women’s 8 km Championship

February 16, 2003

10:00 a.m. Junior Men’s 8 km Championship 10:45 a.m. Senior Women’s 4 km Championship 11:15 a.m. Senior Men’s 12 km Championship

A LITTLE HISTORY: This year’s national championships will be the 105th edition of the men’s event and the 39th race for the women. The men’s race dates back to 1890, when the first championship took place under the guidance of the Amateur Athletic Union (USATF replaced the AAU as America’s track and field governing body in 1979). No events took place in 1893-96, 1899-1900 and 1904. The USA Championships were not conducted in 1998 due to the change from hosting the event in early December to conducting the event in February, beginning in 1999. The first women’s championship took place in 1964. The men’s and women’s Championships were held together for the first time in 1979.

Past champions of the men’s event include all-time greats including seven-time champ Don Lash (1934-’40), four-time winner and 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter (1970-’73), three-time New York Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, eight-time U.S. cross country champ Pat Porter (1982-’89), two-time Olympian Bob Kennedy and 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials winner Bob Kempainen. At the 2000 Championships in Greensboro, N.C., Adam Goucher became the first and only man in history to win both the long and short course races at the same Championships. The 4 km competitions for senior men and women were added in 1998.

The women’s competition has also seen many great champions including five-time U.S. champ (1966, 1968-71), and five-time World Cross Country champion (1967-‘71) Doris Brown-Heritage two-time champ Francie Larrieu Smith (1972-’73), nine-time U.S. champion (1985, 1987-’93, 1996) and three-time World Cross Country champion (1990-’92) Lynn Jennings, two-time short course champ Amy Rudolph (1998-’99) and five-time defending 8 km champion Deena Drossin. In 2000 Drossin also won the short course race, making her the only woman ever to win both titles in the same year.

The following lists the requirements for entry in each of the 2002 USA Winter Cross Country Championship races:

SENIOR COMPETITION: All USATF-registered male athletes 16 years of age or older and female athletes who are 14 years of age or older on the day of the competition are eligible.

JUNIOR COMPETITION: All USATF-registered athletes who are 14 years of age or older on the day of the competition, and who will not turn 20 in 2002 are eligible to compete.

MASTERS COMPETITION: All USATF-registered age male and female athletes who are at least 40 years of age on the last day of competition who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens may compete in masters competition.

TEAM SCORING: Along with the individual competition in the Junior and Senior races, team scoring will take place. A minimum of four runners and a maximum of six runners will constitute a team. The combined points of each team’s first four finishers will determine a team’s score. Cross country displacement scoring will be utilized. The team with the lowest score will be the winning team.

MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media accreditation for the 2002 USA Winter Cross Country Championships, contact Tom Surber at (317) 261-0500 ext. 317. For more information on the event, visit the USATF Web site at http://www.usatf.org.

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