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Team USA Junior Women take fourth at Brussels
3-20-2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Led by top finishers Amber Harper and Alison Costello, Team USA’s Junior Women’s squad placed fourth Saturday at the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium.

Saturday’s races at Ossegem Park in Laken Brussels were held under cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 50s. Competitors also had to deal with breezy conditions with a steady drizzle, along with an occasional downpour. The moisture caused the course to become wet and slippery with numerous patches of mud.

Team USA’s junior women’s team took to the course first on Saturday and equaled its best ever placing at the World Cross Country Championships by finishing fourth in the team competition with 120 points. Ethiopia grabbed the top four places in winning the team competition with 10 points. Kenya was the runner-up with 36 points, with Japan third with 67 points. Team USA’s junior women also placed fourth in 1995 in Durham, England, and in 2003 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. was led by Amber Harper (Provo, Utah), who placed 24th, followed by Alison Costello (Los Angeles, Calif.) in 30th and Amanda Trotter (Palo Alto, Calif.) in 31st. Jennifer Barringer (Oveido, Florida) was 35th with Trotter’s twin sister Katy (Palo Alto, Calif.) 36th and Brittany Brockman (Waco, Texas) 60th.

In the senior women’s long course race, the Americans placed fifth overall. Kate O’Neill (New Haven, CT.) was the top finisher, running 15th. Katherine Newberry (Williamsburg, VA.) placed 25th, Katie McGregor (Edina, MN) was 27th, Ann Marie Schwabe (Boulder, CO) was 31st, while Laura O’Neill (New Haven, CT) finished 38th, and Molly Austin (Boulder, CO) was 79th.

Team USA’s men’s short course squad finished seventh in the team competition. 1996 Olympic steeplechaser Robert Gary (Columbus, Ohio) led the way with his 33rd place finish. Other U.S. finishers included Luke Watson in 36th place, Sandu Rebenciuc (Lafayette, Colo.), who finished 46th and Jared Cordes (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who was 48th. Ian Connor (Columbus, Ohio) was 58th and Isaiah Festa (Colorado Springs, Colo.) placed 60th.

JUNIOR WOMEN 8 km

Individual Standings: 1. Meselech Melkamu (ETH), 20:48; 2. Aziza Aliyu (ETH), 20:53; 3. Mestawat Tadesse (ETH), 20:59, 4. Workitu Ayanu (ETH), 20:59; 5. Chemtai Rionotukei (KEN), 21:04.

Team USA: 24. Amber Harper (21:58), 30. Alison Costello (22:10), 31. Amanda Trotter (22:11), 35. Jennifer Barringer (22:19), Kathleen Trotter (22:20), 60. Brittany Brockman (23:04).

Team Scoring: 1. Ethiopia - 10 points, 2. Kenya – 36, 3. Japan – 67, 4. United States – 120, 5. Russia – 160. SENIOR MEN 4 km

Individual Standings 1. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), 11:31; 2. Gebre-egziab Bebremariam (ETH), 11:36; 3. Maregu Zewdie (ETH), 11:42; 4. Abdullah Ahmad Hassan (QAT), 11:44; 5. Saif Saaeed Shaheen (QAT), 11:44.

Team USA: 33. Robert Gary (12:12); 36. Luke Watson (12:17); 46. Sandu Rebenciuc (12:23); 48. Jared Cordes (12:24), 58. Ian Connor (12:29), 60. Isaiah Festa (12:30).

Team Scoring: 1. Ethiopia - 17 points; 2. Qatar - 39; 3. Kenya - 52; 4. Morocco - 119; 5. Algeria - 120; 6. Canada - 128. United States - 163.

SENIOR WOMEN 8 km

Individual Standings: 1. Benita Johnson (AUS), 27:17; 2. Ejegayehu Dibaba (ETH), 27:29; 4. Alice Timbilili (KEN), 27:36; 5. Teyba Erkesso (ETH), 27:43

Team USA: 15. Kate O'Neill (28:37); 25. Kate Newberry (28:56); 27. Katie McGregor (28:57); 31. Ann Marie Schwabe (29:05); 38. Laura O'Neill (29:27); Molly Austin (31:00).

Team Standings: 1. Ethiopia - 26 points; 2. Kenya - 30 points; 3. Great Britain & Northern Ireland - 74 points; 4. France - 90; 5. United States - 98.

The action resumes Sunday with the Junior Men’s race beginning at 1:15 p.m., followed by the Senior Women’s 4 km at 2:15 p.m. The Championships will conclude with the Senior Men’s 12 km race at 2:45 p.m.

Junior Women’s Team quotes:

Amber Harper: We all stuck together and it was awesome. I felt good and I just went. It was hard in the wind, though. It was a fun race. There were a lot of people yelling at us that Japan was the team right in front of us. I know I passed one of their gals towards the end. It was really muddy, but not as muddy as I thought it would be.

Jennifer Barringer: There are so many people and I’ve never raced at this high a level. It’s been awesome meeting Bob Kennedy and Shalane Flanagan and all the other great runners on our team. It’s a great thrill to be a part of this. I think I raced really strong.

Amanda Trotter: Running with these girls is awesome. It was muddy and we gave a great effort. We all know that we have about the same ability and we knew that if we could stick together we could do well. I’m very happy.

Katy Trotter: I fell on the last turn and it was hard to get up. It was a shame. We knew that Japan was right in front of us and we tried to pass them.

Alison Costello: It was fun to be out there, but the race was really tough. This is a lot different than running against other collegiate runners. I love running with the Trotters. We ran together nearly the whole race and we became one unit and it was such a team race. The whole time they were talking and helping everyone else and we’ve developed a real bond.

Brittany Brockman: This was really interesting. There really is nothing like it. This is my first time out of the U.S. and I really can’t wait to come back again. It’s such an honor to be here. I’m really happy for the team.

Senior Men 4 km quotes:

Jared Cordes: I kinda started in the middle and had to work my way back up. I don’t think I finished that strong. It didn’t feel like the best race I’ve had, unfortunately. For a while during the second half of the race there was four of us (Americans) running side by side and that helped a lot as we tried to work our way up. We ran pretty well.

Luke Watson: I think all of us thought we’d finish a couple notches higher. No one really blew up today, it didn’t seem. I think we all had middle of the road races. We needed a high sixth and we didn’t have that today. We had great depth today, we just didn’t do as well as we would’ve hoped.

Isaiah Festa: We got out next to the Kenyans and they got out real well and I just followed them. I got out in the top 20 and then I fell back aways and after that I just tried to regroup and move up as best I could. This is my first international experience and I learned a lot. Now I’ll go home and get ready to run the steeplechase on the track.

Ian Connor: It was rough. I tried to go out a little softer than I did last year. It was all-out running. You really can’t compare this race to any other race. It’s like holding your breath for 4k or so. You really can’t prep for this. The pace is incredible right from the gun. You really can’t recover from the downhill because there’s an uphill just as quickly.

Sandy Rebenciuc: The mud definitely makes this a tough race. The chutes were kind of narrow. I’m happy to have scored and helped the team. The competition does not allow you much leeway as far as what you can do as a team, so we just went with the flow.

Robert Gary: The course is pretty tough and muddy, but I’m a mud runner. I really wanted to get into the top ten going up the first hill, but I was going as hard as I could, but I just got left. I was picking my way through, but got a bit lazy in the third kilometer and didn’t feel like I came through very hard at the finish, but when you’re getting your butt kicked it’s kinda hard to rally. I was literally going all out the first 400 meters up the hill and ten guys passed me. It’s go as hard as you can, take a deep breath and then go hard again. I kinda wished I had run the 12k…you get a little more time to recover.

Senior Women 8 km quotes

Kate O’Neill—I didn’t know what to expect. It’s sort of crazy with the crowd and the mud. I couldn’t get a sense of pace, so I tried to make it hurt the whole way, and put as much effort into it as I could in the places you could, because it was muddy in some spots, and you had to anticipate those spots and go fast when the footing’s good, and luckily, things worked out pretty well. I thought it paid off to swing out and run on firmer ground. I’m going to try and remember what I learned here today and apply it to the track.

Kathy Newberry—The plan was to get established in the first lap and go from there. I went out comfortably, but not too hard. I focused on lap by lap working my way up. It was crazy, but it was good to have people who have had experience at this meet. They were helpful in preparing me for this.

Katie McGregor—I felt good at the beginning, but I was hoping to be out around 10-20th place.

Ann Marie Schwabe—I thought that it went really well. After the 4k, it felt like a cyclone. I love the course, with the mud and the sharp turns, uphill and downhill. This was a true cross country course, and it was amazing. This was the best cross country experience I’ve ever had. My personal goal was to be a scorer on the U.S. team, and I did that.

Laura O’Neill—I knew it was going to be really crowded in the beginning and pretty muddy, so that is what I was nervous about, so it was a different kind of nervous, as opposed to being nervous about other factors. It was fun running with the mud splashing, and I am pretty happy with my performance. It war really neat hearing people cheer in different languages. It’s the most challenging course I’ve ever been on. It was a good course and a fair course. Katie, Ann Marie, and Molly gave us some feedback on what to expect, as they’ve competed at Worlds before, but quite honestly, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I wanted to learn something and have a good race.

Molly Austin—It was awful. I got here Monday, and my legs were real sluggish, and I kept thinking that it would get better. At the start, it felt awful, and my goal was just to finish. I’m real bummed, but it happens. The lesson I learned today is to keep my head up…it has to get better. It’s an honor to even come here and run against this kind of competition.

For more information on the 2004 World Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.

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