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Keflezighi places 11th to lead Team USA at World XC


Jill Geer
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field
(508) 520-1529

AVENCHES, Switzerland – Meb Keflezighi placed 11th in the men’s long-course race Sunday at the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships to lead Team USA to 7th in the team standings. Also on Sunday at the Institut National Equestre Avenches in Avenches, Team USA finished eighth in the junior men's race and 13th in the senior women's short course event.

A two-time U.S. cross country champ, Keflezighi ran aggressively throughout 12 km race to finish 11th, improving upon his previous best-ever World Cross Country finish of 13th in 2001. Keflezighi moved immediately into the lead pack at the start and stayed between 11th and 13th to finish in 37:16. Ahead of Keflezighi, Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele successfully completed a short course/long course double for the second straight year, winning the 12 km by 13 seconds in 35:56.

Keflezighi teamed with Abdi Abdirahman (35th, 38:54), Edwardo Torres (51st, 39:25), and Chad Johnson (58th, 39:56) to total 112 points, good enough for 7th in the team standings. Dave Cullum (40:24) and Nick Rogers (41:01) finished 71st and 79th for Team USA.

Former Colby College standout Sarah Toland used a strong last lap to lead Team USA in the senior women's 4 km to 13th place with a score of 175. Toland, who finished 32nd at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, moved strongly over the final mile to claim 39th in 13:44.

Joining Toland as scorers for Team USA were Heather Sagan (54th, 13:52), Annemarie Brooks (56th, 13:54), and Collette Liss (70th, 14:11). Molly Austin rounded out Team USA's squad with a 77th-place effort in 14:26.

Liss had been the early leader for the U.S. squad, running among the top 30 early before struggling over the final circuit in the unexpectedly warm conditions.

U.S. junior champion Billy Nelson finished 26th to lead the Team USA junior men to eighth in the team standings with 121 points. Nelson, who improved upon his 33rd-place effort from 2002, covered the 8 km course in 24:52.

Tim Moore, the 2002 U.S. junior champ, also improved upon his 54th-place performance from the 2002 World Champs by claiming 34th in 25:25. Joining Nelson and Moore as scorers were Brett Gotcher (44th, 25:48) and Andrew Weilacher (45th, 25:49). James Hower was 46th (25:50) and Bret Schoolmeester finished 63rd, (26:17).

For complete Team USA coverage from the 2003 World Cross Country Championships, visit; for complete results, visit


Individual Standings: 1, Kenenisa Bekele, ETH, 35:56; 2, Patrick Ivuti, KEN, 36:09; 3, Gebre-egziab Gebremariam, ETH, 36:17; 4, Richard Limo, KEN, 36:39; 5, Paul Koech, KEN, 36:42.

USA Finishers: 11, Meb Keflezighi 37:16; 35, Abdi Abdirahman 38:54; 51, Edwardo Torres 39:25; 58, Chad Johnson 39:56; 71, Dave Cullum 40:24; 79, Nick Rogers 41:01.

Team Standings: 1, Kenya 17; 2, Ethiopia 23; 3, Morocco 51; 4, Spain 68; 5, Portugal 85. United States finished 7th with 112 points.


Individual Standings: 1, Edith Masai, KEN, 12:43; 2, Werknesh Kidane, ETH, 12:44; 3, Jane Gakunyi, KEN, 12:46; 4, Isabella Ochichi, KEN, 12:48; 5, Benita Johnson, AUS, 12:48.

USA Finishers: 39, Sarah Toland 13:44; 54 , Heather Sagan 13:52; 56, Annemarie Brooks 13:54; 70, Collette Liss 14:11; 77, Molly Austin 14:26.

Team Standings: 1, Kenya 18; 2, Ethiopia 24; 3, Morocco 61; 4, Russia 79; 5, Australia 96. United States finished 13th with 175 points.


Individual Standings: 1, Eluid Kipchoge, KEN, 22:47; 2, Boniface Kiprop, UGA, 22:49; 3, Solomon Bushendich, KEN, 22:51; 4, Augustine Choge, KEN, 22:55; 5, Girma Assefa, ETH, 22:58.

USA Finishers: 26, Billy Nelson 24:52; 34, Tim Moore 25:25; 44, Brett Gotcher 25:48; 45, Andrew Weilacher 25:49; 46, James Hower 25:50; 63, Bret Schoolmeester 26:17

Team Standings: 1, Kenya 15; 2, Ethiopia 28; 3, Uganda 48; 4, Morocco 63; 5, Eritrea 72. United States finished 8th with 121 points.


Men’s 12 km

Meb Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif., 11th) I felt really good, but I went out a little bit too fast. The team plan was to get out fast and hold our position, and the more I’m out front , the better the team score’s gonna be. There were two Kenyans coming up on me at the finish, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had to compete.

Abdi Abdirahman (Tuscon, Ariz., 35th) Today was real tough. I was out of it from the first lap. I just didn’t feel real good at all. I tried to go with Meb at the beginning, but I felt in the first 800 that the pace was too fast, and I settled into a pace. The problem was that people were passing me, and I couldn’t pass people.

Edwardo Torres (Boulder, Colo., 51st) It was something I didn’t expect. Right off the gun, I saw those guys take off. The whole time I was pushing it and I only caught like one or two guys. It’s not like in the NCAAs, where you can just push it and pass ten or fifteen guys. You’re only catching one or two guys every one or two kilometer.

Chad Johnson (Portland, Ore., 58th) I was not prepared for it , but I will be next year. It was an all out sprint for 2K and it was hold on for 10K. I think I should have gone out a little more conservative, but I had to go for it anyways. I ran hard today but I definitely have big step to go.

David Cullum (Cupertino, Calif., 71st) It was hot out there, the footing was bad, it is the toughest race in the world and it definitely proved it on this course.

Nick Rogers (Eugene, Ore., 79th) I was real confident going into the race, and I felt pretty good during the warm-up. I spent the last month with Meb at Mammoth Lakes at altitude training, but I don’t quite know what happened. I know I don’t particularly race well in the heat…that may have been a bit of a factor. You wouldn’t expect to come to Switzerland in March and expect it to be pretty warm.

Women’s 4 km quotes

Sarah Toland (Boulder, Colo., 39th) My usual race tactics of going out slow was made a bit difficult. It was pretty hard to pass people, and I felt like I was moving up on people in the last half of the final lap when the crowd thinned out. What I learned today was that I need to get out a little faster, especially in races where ground is difficult to make up. The turns were so congested, and I didn’t realize how curvy the race course was.

Heather Sagan (Lynchburg, Va., 54th) It was a crazy race. I don’t know if I went out too hard or not, but I was pushed around. I tried to go out with the top girls, and then halfway through I started settling in and may have lost some places.

Ann Marie Brooks (Boulder, Colo., 56th) It’s a tornado! Usually there’s the start and then you just kind of settle in. In this race, the start seemed like the whole thing because there were constantly people around you and elbows and corners.

Collette Liss (Indianapolis, Ind., 70th) I was fine for most of the race, then in the last kilometer, I started fading badly to the point that I felt like I was blacking out. Until that point I was executing what I planned to do…I don’t think the warm weather affected me.

Molly Austin (Boulder, Colo., 77th) This was my first international race and it was fast, it was really fast! It would definitely have helped to have done one before.

Junior men’s 4 km quotes

Bill Nelson (Boulder, Colo.., 26th) I got out a little quicker than I wanted to, but once I settled in, I was OK. It was going smoothly, and then on the next to last lap, I ended up getting a cramp on my right side. It stuck with me for a kilometer or so, then it went away, then I went and kicked it in. Overall, I am pretty pleased. I finished 33rd last year, and 26th this year, so this I a move up for me.

Tim Moore (South Bend, Ind., 34th) I got out hard but I didn’t absolutely kill myself. I was pretty tired for most of the way, but that’s the nature of the race. You try to run hard the whole way. Overall I’m pleased.

Brett Gotcher (Palo Alto, Calif., 44th) I got out how I wanted. I probably was in the top 30 at 1000 meters. I was with Billy and Tim, but couldn’t handle it. I fell back and hooked up with Andy and Fleet and tried to make the best of it.

Andy Weilacher (Flagstaff, Ariz., 45th) It was a little rougher than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t run as good as I wanted to. The good teams always try to run together and that’s what we tried to do. Our group of three – Brett (Gotcher), Fleet (James Hower) and I – we weren’t up as far as we wanted to be, but we ran together and that’s what we wanted to do.

James “Fleet” Hower (Washington, D.C.., 46th) Everyone tells you that it’s gonna be fast, and you mentally prepare yourself to go fast, but nothing compares to the real thing. I should’ve gotten out a little faster, but overall I thought that it worked out pretty well.

Brett Schoolmeester (Boulder, Colo., 63rd) I don’t know, a minute or two in I just felt horrible – totally depleted. I’m not used to the heat. We just had feet of snow in Boulder. I don’t have any excuses, I just didn’t have a very good day.

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