Kastor, Kennedy headline USA Cross Country Championships
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INDIANAPOLIS- Six-time defending women’s long course champion Deena Kastor and Bob Kennedy, 1992 men’s champion and American record holder at 3,000 and 5,000 meters, will lead America’s best harriers at the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships February 7-8 at the Fall Creek and 16th Street Park in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Having established herself in recent years as America’s premier women’s distance runner, Kastor will compete in Indianapolis looking to add to her already impressive list of accomplishments.
In winning her sixth consecutive U.S. women’s long course title and seventh national cross country crown of her career last year in Houston, Kastor easily defended her crown by a 36-second margin over runner-up Colleen De Reuck. Kastor went on to win the silver medal for the second consecutive year at the World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, which led Team USA to the bronze medal. Kastor continued her dominance as America’s finest long-distance runner by breaking the American record for the marathon with her third-place time of 2:21:16 at the 2003 Flora London Marathon on April 13. Also in 2003, Kastor won her third USA Outdoor 10,000m title, and she won her fourth USA 15 km crown in the new American record time of 47:15.
Kastor will face tough competition in Indianapolis from DeReuck and three-time NCAA 5,000m champion Lauren Fleshman. 2002 World Cross Country Championships team member Mary Jayne Harrelson and 2003 U.S. runner-up and World Cross Country Championships competitor Collette Liss are favorites in the women’s 4 km race.
On the men’s side, Kennedy returns to the USA Cross Country Championships following his victory at the 2003 USA 10 km Championships in Mobile, Alabama. He ended the 2003 season ranked #5 in the U.S. at 5,000m and 10,000 meters. Kennedy’s 2003 success came following a difficult period where he faced a series of health and injury setbacks shortly after winning his fourth U.S. 5,000m title in 2001. His greatest season in cross country was in 1992, when he became the first runner since Al Lawrence 32 years earlier to win the NCAA and USA cross country crowns in the same year.
In the men’s 12 km race, Kennedy will go up against strong contenders Abdi Abdirahman, Adam Goucher and Jorge Torres. Robert Gary looks to defend his title in the men’s 4 km race, where he’ll face a strong challenge from Bryan Berryhill, Adam Goucher, Daniel Lincoln and Alan Webb.
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 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, March 20-21 in Brussels, Belgium. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.
More than 400 athletes will compete in six championship races that will be conducted in Indianapolis. 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 Brussels 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 7.
The event will be hosted by the Indiana Invaders and the City of Indianapolis. Sponsors include the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, St. Vincent Sports Medicine, The Indianapolis Zoo, White River State Park and the End Result Company, Inc.
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 second in 2002 and fifth in 2003, Abdirahman is looking for his first U.S. cross country title. He finished 15th at the 2001 World Cross Country Championships and 11th at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships. Abdirahman won the 10,000 meters at the 2001 USA 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 2003 campaign ranked #4 in the U.S. at 10,000 meters and #8 at 5,000 meters by Track & Field News.
Bryan Berryhill: Berryhill is looking to improve on his 11th place finish in the 4 km race last year. In 2003, Berryhill was the runner-up in the 1500m at USA Outdoors and was ranked #4 at 1500 meters in the U.S. by Track & Field News. After placing third in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships three straight years, he grabbed the collegiate title in 2001.
Robert Gary: Gary is looking to defend his short course title that he won in 2003 in Houston. Gary, who is the head cross country coach at Ohio State University, competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta after his runner-up finish in the 3000m steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier that summer. He finished third in the steeplechase at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships and ended the season ranked #3 in the U.S.
Adam Goucher: After winning both the 4 km and 12 km cross country titles in 2000, Goucher is looking for similar success this year in Indianapolis. He was the runner-up at 5000m at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships, and ended the season ranked #3 in the 3,000 meters, and #4 in the 5,000 meters in the U.S. An Olympic Games 5,000 meter finalist in 2000, Goucher was the NCAA champion in that event in 1998.
Daniel Lincoln: A three-time NCAA steeplechase champion and 12-time NCAA All-American, Lincoln hopes to build on his runner-up finish at the 2003 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2003, Lincoln was also the runner-up in the steeplechase at USA Outdoors.
Jorge Torres: The 2002 NCAA Division I men’s cross country champion, Torres hopes to add another national championship to his impressive resume. He placed third in the 5,000m at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships, and runner-up in the 5,000m at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Torres ended the 2003 campaign ranked #1 in the U.S. at 5,000 meters following his appearance in the final at the 2003 World Outdoor Championships in Paris.
Alan Webb: The 2003 USATF National Club Cross Country champion in December, Webb is looking to add another national cross country title to his resume at Indy. At the club championships, Webb (30:13.1) edged Daniel Lincoln by three-tenths of a second (30:13.4) to win the race. Webb first caught the nation’s attention when he ran the mile in 3:59.86 seconds at the New Balance Games. Four months later, at the Prefontaine Classic, he ran a 3:53.43 in the Bowerman Mile, breaking the national high school record of 3:55.3 that was set by Jim Ryun 36 years ago.
Melissa Buttry: A two-time NCAA Division III cross country champion, Buttry won her first career U.S. national title at the 2003 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, where she won in 19:59.9 to hold off 2002 NCAA Division I cross country runner-up Kate O’Neill (20:01.4).
Colleen De Reuck: De Reuck made her second Team USA appearance at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. She placed eighth overall (26:49) and along with silver medalist Deena Kastor, led Team USA to a team bronze medal. De Reuck made her first Team USA appearance at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, Ireland. 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, DeReuck competed in the 10,000m race at the Atlanta Olympic Games where she finished 13th (32:14.69).
Shalane Flanagan: The 2002 and 2003 NCAA Division I women’s cross country champion, Flanagan was also the runner-up in the 5,000m at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships. Also in 2003, Flanagan won the ACC 5,000m title, and was the runner-up in that event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She finished the 2003 season ranked #4 in the U.S. at 5,000 meters.
Lauren Fleshman: A three-time NCAA 5000m outdoor champion, Fleshman was a 13-time NCAA All-American during her collegiate career. She also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships, and she ended the season ranked #3 in the U.S. by Track & Field News.
Mary Jayne Harrelson: A member of the 2002 World Cross Country Championships team, Harrelson is looking for a trip to Brussels after winning the silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 2003 Pan American Games. She was a two-time NCAA Outdoor 1500m champion and the 2002 U.S. Indoor mile and 800m runner-up. She ended the 2003 season ranked #5 in the U.S. at 1,500 meters.
Collette Liss: Runner-up in the short course race in 2003, Liss is looking for the title this year. The 1999 USATF National Club Cross Country champion, Liss finished fourth in the 1,500 meters at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships and ended the season ranked #6 in the U.S.
Carrie Tollefson: The 2002 short course runner-up, Tollefson is looking for another stellar performance at the USA Cross Country Championships. She was a five-time NCAA champion while at Villanova, and she was third in the 3,000m at the 2002 USA Indoor Championships.
For more information on the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships, visit the USATF Web site at: www.usatf.org.
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