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Culpeppers win U.S. Cross Country titles
2-16-2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

HOUSTON, Texas – By winning the men’s 12-kilometer race and the women’s four-kilometer races respectively, Alan and Shayne Culpepper made history Sunday at the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships at Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, Tex.

Alan Culpepper won his second men’s long course title in a spirited battle with two-time defending champion Meb Keflezighi, and his wife Shayne won her first U.S. cross country title in the women’s 4 km race after winning the women’s 6 km title at the 2002 USA Fall Nationals in Rocklin, California. With their wins today, the Culpeppers became the first married couple to win U.S. Cross Country titles in the same year.

In today’s Junior Men’s competition, the University of Colorado’s Bill Nelson defeated runner-up and Colorado teammate Bret Schoolmeester by a nine-second margin. Defending men’s junior champion Timothy Moore finished fifth. 

The top-six finishers at this year’s USA Cross Country Championships qualify for the 2003 IAAF World Cross County Championships, March 29-30. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.

The following is a listing of the top 15 finishers in Sunday’s races, along with quotes from selected athletes and a race in review for each contest. Complete results may be found on the USATF Web site at ww.usatf.org.

OPEN MEN – 12,008 Meters 1. Alan Culpepper (adidas), 38:22 2. Meb Keflezighi (Nike), 38:34 3. Edwardo Torres (University of Colorado), 39:04 4. Nick Rogers (Nike), 39:31 5. Abdi Abdirahman (Nike), 39:36 6. Chad Johnson (Nike), 39:43 7. David Cullum (Nike Farm Team), 39:44 8. Robert Gary (adidas), 39:45 9. Gregory Jimmerson (Nike Farm Team), 39:52 10. Michael Donnelly (Nike), 40:03 11. Dave Davis (Nike), 40:03 12. Chris Seaton (adidas), 40:10 13. Richard Brinker (Hansons Running Shop), 40:13 14. Nolan Swanson (ASICS), 40:32 15. Thomas Kloos (adidas), 40:35

TEAM SCORING: 1. Nike – 14 points; 2. adidas – 32; 3. The Farm Team – 57; 4. Hansons Running Shop – 65; 5. U.S. Army – 79; 6. U.S. Air Force – 126; 7. U.S. Marines – 137; 8. U.S. Navy – 145.

Culpepper Notes: 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 Track & Field News. He ended the 2002 season ranked #3 in the U.S. at 10,000m after placing third at the USA Outdoor Championships.

RACE IN REVIEW: The final championship race saw 74 athletes in a huge pack charge on to the wet, slick, muddy, blustery course for six trips around the figure-eight circuit. While the top six spots for the world team were identified early, it was a fascinating race to watch as the runners surged back and fourth, sometimes singly, other times in pairs. A summary of the loop-by-loop action is as follows: First west loop (3:13): Alan Culpepper and Meb Keflezighi together. On the first east loop (6:23): Culpepper and Keflezighi. Second west loop (9:30): Culpepper and Keflezighi, then Abdi Abdirahman, then Edwardo Torres, Robert Gary and Nick Rogers together. On the second east loop (12:41), Culpepper and Keflezighi, then Abdirahman, then Torres and Gary, then Dave Davis and Rogers. Third west loop (15:51): Culpepper and Keflezighi, then Abdirahman, then Torres, then Gary and Davis together. Third east loop (19:01), Keflezighi and Culpepper, then Abdirahamn, then Torres, Rogers and Gary, then Davis in single file. Fourth west loop (22:11): Culpepper and Keflezighi, then Torres, Abdirahman, Rogers, Gary and Davis. Fourth east loop (25:22): Culpepper and Keflezighi, Abdirahman and Torres, then Rogers, then Gary and Davis. Fifth west loop (28:36): Culpepper and Keflezighi, Abdirahman, Torres, then Gary and Davis. Fifth east loop (31:48): Keflezighi and Culpepper shared the lead followed by Torrez and Abdirahman. Rogers and Gary followed close behind. Sixth west loop (34:56): Keflezighi and Culpepper were in the lead followed by Torres then Abdirahman and Rogers. On the final east loop, Culpepper surged strongly to take the lead over Keflezighi. Torres also established his superiority in third over Abdirahman with Nick Rogers surging strongly to take fourth.

Alan Culpepper Quotes:

On the conditions: It’s a pretty close toss-up between here and Ireland in 1999. Here there were almost no places where there was solid, safe footing. So, it was definitely a challenging course. I was just trying to stay on my feet and run hard. When you have conditions like this, you can’t have too much of a game-plan, I was just running and see what happens

It was just random where each of us felt better than the other one and we’d go around and you couldn’t get away. 

On the final circuit versus Keflezighi: I felt strong, actually I was doing really well on the downhills which typically isn’t my strength, so I was able to roll up a lot of that just on that last steep downhill and then I caught him on the uphill and we stayed together until about 600 to go or so.

Once I caught him again and went around him, I felt pretty confident once I get to that last half-mile go. He’s a tough runner – he’s really tough – so I’m definitely psyched when I get to beat him.

I think both of us came in not completely at our bests, honestly. The marathon can kind of throw things off a little bit with our normal build-ups, and I think he was in the same situation. Because of running the marathon in the fall, I didn’t get a normal base phase running into this race, so I’m just kind of out of my element having not done a typical build-up

On Shayne and he both winning: It’s exciting, I’m so proud of her. I knew she had a bad day yesterday and I knew she was really fit. I’m just glad she was able to be mentally strong and come back and run a great race.

On a possible” family affair” at World Cross: I’m not sure yet, we have to figure out some of the details. I’m not completely set whether I’m going or not, honestly. Cross country isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Our plate’s pretty full and I’ve learned I can’t do everything. I have to pick and choose the things I think are important for myself. Moving more toward the marathon in the coming years I want to solidify my 10K and especially my 5K PRs, and make a shot at that American record in the 10K. I just have to weigh all the options.

Meb Keflezighi—Alan’s a great runner, and it was a good dual, and I tried to make a surge before the kick, but he wanted to get it over before the kick. I did the best that I could for today, and I am happy to be going to Lausanne. I think we’ve got the potential for a pretty good team going to Lausanne. I think we can do very well.

It was hard trying to pass…hard to accelerate through the mud…I had a hard time going down the hill, but I was running well up the hill. I was strong up the hill, but Alan was stronger down the hill.

Edwardo Torres—This course was a perfect fit for me…mud, hills. My training leading up to this race has been great, even though I have not had George (twin brother Jorge) and Dathan to train with. It’s been a different situation for me. I’ve been able to train myself to get into good shape. I plan on running the 5k indoors (for the Univ. of Colorado) before the world championships.

OPEN WOMEN – 4,148 Meters 1. Shayne Culpepper (adidas), 15:10 2. Collette Liss (Nike), 15:19 3. Ann Marie Brooks (Team New Balance), 15:22 4. Amy Rudolph (adidas), 15:23 5. Sarah Toland (Nike), 15:27 6. Molly Austin (Unattached), 15:34 7. Heather Sagan (adidas), 15:36 8. Sara Gorton (Unattached), 15:37 9. Sally Hauser (Nike), 15:41 10. Katie Sabino (adidas), 15:44 11. Libbie Hickman (Nike), 15:48 12. Kelly MacDonald (ASICS), 15:52 13. Janet Trujillo (Nike), 15:56 14. Sarah Hann (Team New Balance), 16:15 15. Marie Davis (The Farm Team), 16:16

TEAM SCORING: 1. adidas – 16; 2. Nike – 20

Culpepper Notes: The 2002 USA Fall Cross Country women’s champion, Culpepper is a former Big 12 Outdoor 1,500m and 3,000m champion at the University of Colorado. She finished sixth in the 1,500m at the 2001 USA Outdoor Championships and third in that event in 1999. A 2000 Olympian, Culpepper finished fourth in the 1,500 meters at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento.

RACE IN REVIEW: The short course senior women ran two times around this wet, muddy, figure circuit to choose the team bound for Lausanne. After the first west end loop (3:38), the field of 37 had already separated with Colette Liss, Janet Trujillo, Amy Rudolph and Ann Marie Brooks running single file at the front. After completing the first east end loop (7:77), it was Liss, Rudolph, Trujillo, and now Shayne Culpepper single file up in front. Completion of the second west end loop (11:04) saw the lead consist of Liss, Culpepper, Rudolph, Brooks, Sarah Toland, Molly Austin and Sara Gorton. On the final east loop, Culpepper took command over Liss, with Brooks surging to outkick Rudolph for the third spot on the team.

Culpepper Quotes: Yesterday I made a big mistake and I went out way too hard, so I really sat back today and let the race unfold. I felt yesterday in my head, I was really focusing toward longer events – 8K, 10K – and conditions caught me by surprise.

On the opportunity to go to the World Championships with Alan: We’ll see what happens. Right now I’m just trying to soak up the win. It’s my first national title and I’ve been working really, really hard, so yesterday was really crushing, so I really saw that my hard work and my strength came through to help me.

Yesterday I just panicked. [Culpepper dropped out of yesterday’s women’s 8 km championships]. It was the conditions and I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t really pay attention to how I was feeling and I got caught up in the race. Today I just stayed focused on myself and how I was feeling, and let the race unfold.

Actually, going up-hill is one of my strengths; downhill is one of my weaknesses. When we got here on Thursday, I was really pleased with the course. I think it was laid out completely perfectly. The mud, however, was what I had to adjust my plans for. 

On when she felt she might be able to win: About halfway … I saw kind of where my gap was and knew how I felt and thought I should be able to catch the leader. [Collette Liss]

On winning fall and winter titles this season: The conditions were similar to this at that race so just getting out there and being on that terrain. It was as sloppy in certain areas, but Rocklin (the fall site) had that backstretch that was a little bit drier and you could get your momentum going better. This was bad almost every step of the way, and yesterday was worse than today.

On motherhood and running: I think it’s helped me tremendously with my life and my training. It puts life in perspective and you don’t have time to sit around and sulk about bad races and bad workouts. You have a baby there and it’s such joy and such fun.

I was able to get up today have a fresh start and refocus.

Collette Liss—I just ran as best as I could. Shayne’s such an incredible runner. She was tough today. I was running scared the last 200 meters. I didn’t want to come all this way and get passed (at the end), so I just gave it everything I could, and took off as fast as possible.

Ann Marie Brooks—The strategy was to hang on with the front people as long as I could, and not let up…I found out from running the 8k yesterday (11th) that if you gave an inch on the mud, you can never regain it. If the top girls got even two feet, you can’t get it back, and lose contact. I was tired from the 8k but the knowledge I gained more than made up for it. The World Cross Country Championships will be way upscale competition. I came here and was only entered in the 8k, but my husband Clay said, “You go down and pay the $15 and enter the 4k. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here’.

Brooks is coached by former WR holder in the 10,000m Arturo Barrios, and lives in Boulder, CO.

JUNIOR MEN – 8,078 Meters

1. Bill Nelson (Univ. of Colorado), 27:08 2. Bret Schoolmeester (Univ. of Colorado), 27:17 3. Andy Weilacher (Unattached), 27:19 4. Brett Gotcher (Stanford), 27:25 5. Timothy Moore (Notre Dame), 27:29 6. James Hower (Georgetown), 27:31 7. Joseph Gray (Univ. of Portland), 27:40 8. Jason Bill (Starved Rock), 27:51 9. Chris Solinsky (Stevens Point (WI) HS), 27:53 10. Aaron Aguayo (Unattached), 27:59 11. Micah Ven Denend (Unattached), 28:00 12. Galen Rupp (Portland, Oregon), 28:00 13. John Crews (Glasgow, Va.), 28:01 14. Payton Batliner (Univ. of Colorado), 28:18 15. Mint Henk (Braintree, Vermont), 28:23 

RACE IN REVIEW: Weather conditions were windy and chilly (45 degrees) as 62 athletes toed the line and began their four-lap journey on this wet, slippery, muddy 2-kilometer figure-eight circuit. At the end of the first west end loop (3:22) it was a foursome of Joe Gray, Bill Nelson, Tim Moore and Chris Solinsky leading the pack. After the first east loop (6:43) it was Solinsky, Moore and Nelson. After the second west loop (10:02) and second east loop (13:24), the lead had not changed. After the third west loop (16:47), Brian Sullivan joined the leading threesome, with seven others close behind. After the third east loop (20:10), the lead group now consisted of Nelson and Moore, accompanied by Bret Schoolmeester. After the fourth west loop (23:30), Nelson led the group including Schoolmeester, Moore and Andy Weilacher. After the final east loop (26:42), beginning a sprint toward the finish, it was Nelson, Schoolmeester and Weilacher.

Billy Nelson---I wanted to get out fast, because I wanted to get away from the mud, and there’s a lot of good runners, and I didn’t want to get caught up in the pack. I’ve raced against a lot of these guys and I knew the guys that I had to key off of. I felt good, but felt a bit tired on the third lap, but I kicked it in with about 600 to go.

I was a little bit more nervous about this race than I was last year, as there’s so many good guys coming up.

I have been focusing on this meet…I’ve only run two indoor meets this season….there were about 10 (college) guys capable of making the team.

The mud was going to slow things down, but the fact that my short stature and the fact that I am light weight helped, especially going through the hills. I got a lot of advice from some of the girls on my team, and also from some of the pro runners, in terms of what kind of spikes to wear, keeping on my toes, etc. It didn’t change my race strategy, but it did change the way I looked at the course.

For complete results from the 2003 USA Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.

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