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Drossin, Keflezighi headline USA Cross Country Championships
2-13-2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

INDIANAPOLIS – Five-time defending women’s 8 km champion Deena Drossin and two-time defending men’s 12 km champion Meb Keflezighi will lead America’s best harriers at the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships February 15-16 at Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, Texas.

Having established herself in recent years as America’s premier women’s distance runner, Drossin will compete in Houston looking to add to her already impressive list of accomplishments.

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).

Drossin will face tough competition in Houston from her teammates from the silver medal winning U.S. women’s 8 km squad from last year’s World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, Ireland. Colleen De Reuck, who won the bronze medal in Ireland, will challenge Drossin, along with Jen Rhines (12th at Dublin), Milena Glusac (23rd), Elva Dryer (28th) and Amy Rudolph (31st).

As the highest finisher from the 2002 women’s 4 km championship, Sarah Hann (4th in 2002) will be considered the favorite in Houston. Veteran Janet Trujillo, who placed fifth last year, will also be in the mix, along with Sarah Toland (7th) and Sara Gorton (9th). The 2000 national champion at this distance, Deena Drossin also is entered in the 4 km competition, but will decide on race day whether or not to compete.

On the men’s side, it hasn’t taken Meb Keflezighi very long to stake his claim as one of America’s premier distance runners. Keflezighi, who placed 14th at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, defended his U.S. men’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.

In the men’s 12 km race Keflezighi will duel with his friend and rival Abdi Abdirahman, who will be hungry for his first U.S. cross country title. Other contenders Keflezighi will face include last year’s third-place finisher Alan Culpepper. The 2002 U.S. 5,000m champion on the track, Culpepper demonstrated his fitness last November by running 2:09:41 in his marathon debut at the Chicago Marathon. Other contenders include Greg Jimmerson, who was sixth at last year’s Championships in Vancouver, Wash., and eighth-place finisher in 2002, Dave Davis.

The men’s 4 km race is up for grabs with no heavy favorites. Competitors looking to capture the men’s 4 km crown and their finishes from last year include Tony Cosey (3rd), Dave Davis (4th), Bryan Berryhill (6th), 2001 U.S. Outdoor 1,500m champion Andy Downin (7th), Jonathan Riley (8th) and Robert Gary (9th). Also look for 2002 USA men’s marathon champion Dan Browne, veteran steeplechaser Mark Croghan and Ibrahim Aden, who placed third in the 1,500m at the 2002 USA Outdoor Championships, to contend.

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.

The following is a look at some of the top senior competitors expected to compete at the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships.

Abdi Abdirahman: After finishing third at this event in 2001 and second by the slimmest of margins in 2002, Abdirahman is hoping to win his first U.S. cross country title. He finished 15th at the 2001 World Cross Championships and 11th last year in Dublin. Abdirahman won the 10,000 meters at the 2001USA Outdoor Championships before finishing as the runner-up in that event, behind Meb Keflezighi, in 2002. In 2001 he finished 10th in the 10 km at the Goodwill Games and 19th in that event at the World Outdoor Championships. He ended the 2001 campaign ranked #1 in the U.S. at 10,000 meters. He ended the 2002 campaign ranked #2 in the U.S. at 10 km.

Bryan Berryhill: After placing third in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships three straight years, Berryhill finally grabbed the collegiate title in 2001. Berryhill enjoyed a strong season in 2001, setting new personal bests in the mile (3:54.87) and the 1,500m (3:35.48). He finished eighth at the 2001 Goodwill Games and ended the 2001 season ranked #4 in the U.S. by Track & Field News. Berryhill was the runner-up in the 1,500m at the 2002 USA Outdoor Championships, and ended the year ranked #3 in the U.S.

Tony Cosey: After placing sixth at the USA Cross Country Championships in 2001, Cosey placed 39th in the 4 km competition at the 2001 World Cross Country Championships in Oostend, Belgium. A 2000 Olympian in the steeplechase, he finished fourth in that event at the 1998 USA Outdoor Championships and 83rd at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships. Cosey finished eighth last June in the steeplechase at the USA Outdoor Championships.

Mark Croghan: A three-time Olympian (1992-1996-2000), Croghan is a three-time USA 3000m steeplechase champion, a four-time World Outdoor Championships team member and a two-time NCAA steeple champ. He placed second in the steeple at the 2000 Olympic Trials, and ended the season ranked #5 nationally in that event in the U.S. by T&FN. Croghan was fourth in the short course event at the 2000 USA Winter Cross Country Nationals.

Alan Culpepper: The runner-up in the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Olympic Trials, Culpepper was the U.S. cross country long course champ in 1999 and the top American finisher that year at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (21st). The 1999 U.S. 10,000 meter champ, Culpepper was second in the 5,000m, and third in the 10,000 meters at the 2001 USA Outdoor Championships. Known for his versatility, Culpepper ended the 2001 campaign ranked #4 at 3,000m, #5 at 5,000m and #3 at 10,000 meters in the U.S. by T&FN. He ended the 2002 season ranked #3 in the U.S. at 10,000m after placing third at the USA Outdoor Championships.

Colleen De Reuck: A native of South Africa, De Reuck made her first Team USA appearance at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, where she finished third overall (27:17) and along with silver medalist Deena Drossin, led Team USA to a team silver medal. A three-time Olympian for South Africa, De Reuck became a U.S. citizen on December 11, 2000, just after finishing 31st at the 2000 Olympic Games in the marathon (2:36:58). In the 1992 Olympic marathon she finished 9th overall in 2:39:03. In 1996, De Reuck competed in the 10,000m race at the Atlanta Olympic Games where she finished 13th (32:14.69). She is married to Darren De Reuck, her manager/agent and assistant race director of the Bolder Boulder 10 km.

Elva Dryer: The runner-up in the 4 km women’s competition in 2001 at Vancouver, Wash., Dryer is looking to improve on her third-place finish in the 8 km competition at last year’s USA XC Championships. A seven-time NCAA Division II track and cross country champion while at Western State University, Dryer was an Olympian in 2000 in the 5000 meters after finishing third at the Olympic Trials in 15:11.76. She placed 38th in the women’s 4 km at the 2001 World Cross Country Championships.

Jen Rhines: A three-time NCAA 5000 meter champ while at Villanova, Rhines has emerged as one of America’s bright new stars after placing second in the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Olympic Trials and the 2001 USA Outdoor Nationals. She broke through with a victory in that event at the 2002 USA Outdoor Championships and ended the campaign ranked #2 in the U.S. at 10 km, behind only Drossin. Rhines was second in the 8 km at the 2001 USA Cross Country Championships and placed 27th a month later at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgium.

Amy Rudolph: A two-time winner of the women’s 4 km championship at the USA Cross Country Nationals (1998-’99), Rudolph hopes to collect another individual title cross country title after placing sixth in the 8 km race last year in Vancouver. Rudolph finished fourth in the 5,000 meters at the 2001 USA Outdoor Championships. A two-time Olympian, Rudolph is also a four-time World Outdoor Championships team member and the 1998 U.S. 8 km Road Racing champion. Rudolph had a strong performance at the 1998 World Cross Country Championship, where she finished ninth. She ended the 2002 season ranked #2 in the U.S. at 3,000 meters and #4 at 5,000 meters.

For more information on the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships, visit the USATF Web site at: www.usatf.org

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