INDIANAPOLIS- Defending U.S. women's short and long course champions Shalane Flanagan and Colleen De Reuck, and men's reigning 4 km champion Charlie Gruber, will take on America's best this weekend at the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships and World Cross Country Team Trials. The Championships will take place February 12-13 at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington.
Flanagan defeated a strong field last year in Indianapolis to win the women's national 4 km title. A member of the lead pack from the beginning of the race, Flanagan displayed a strong finishing kick that gave her a two-second winning margin ahead of runner-up Carrie Tollefson. A two-time NCAA Division I cross country champion while at the University of North Carolina, Flanagan competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens after placing third in the 5,000 meters earlier that summer at the Olympic Trials.
Flanagan will be challenged in the women's 4 km race by 3-time NCAA 5,000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman and three-time NCAA Division III cross country champion Missy Buttry, who placed third and fourth respectively last year in Indianapolis. 2003 USA Winter Cross Country champion and 2004 Olympian Shayne Culpepper also is in the field.
Colleen De Reuck will look to add a second U.S. long course title to her resume on Saturday after her convincing 31-second win over the field last year in Indianapolis. De Reuck, who won the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women's Marathon Trials last April in St. Louis, will face a strong challenge from 2004 runner-up Katie McGregor and 2004 Olympian Jen Rhines among others.
Both men's races promise to be highly competitive, with Charlie Gruber looking to defend his short course title after a hard-fought battle to the finish with Luke Watson last year. Both crossed the finish line in 11 minutes, 14 seconds, with Gruber being declared the winner. Watson will seek his revenge on Saturday.
2004 Olympians Tim Broe, Jonathon Riley and 2002 NCAA cross country champion Jorge Torres are slated to compete in the short and long course events. The short course event will feature 2003 champion and two-time Olympian Robert Gary and 2004 Olympian Alan Webb, who won the men's 10 km U.S. title at the 2003 USA Club Nationals Championship in Greensboro, N.C. 2004 Olympian Daniel Lincoln will challenge Gary and Webb in the men's 4 km championship race.
The men's long course race will feature 2004 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, who won the 2005 Reebok Cross Country Challenge on January 9 in Belfast, Ireland, against a strong field. Among others, look for two-time Olympian and four-time U.S. World Cross Country team member Abdi Abdirahman to challenge for the men's long course title on Sunday.
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 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. The top six finishers in the Open and Junior races are eligible to compete March 19-20 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint Galmier, France. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.
More than 600 athletes will compete in six championship races in Vancouver, located near Portland, Ore. 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 12.
The following is a look at some of the top open competitors expected to compete at the 2005 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 2004 campaign ranked #2 in the U.S. at 10,000 meters and #7 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 in 2003. He was the runner-up in the 1500m at USA Outdoors that year and was ranked #4 at 1500m 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: After finishing third in Indy last year, Gary is looking to regain his short course title that he won in 2003 in Houston. The head cross country coach at Ohio State University, Gary 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 qualified for his second Olympic team with his third place finish at the 2004 Trials in Sacramento. Following the 2004 season, and for the second consecutive year, Gary ended the outdoor campaign ranked #3 in the U.S. by T&FN.
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 Vancouver, where he is entered in both events. 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.
Charlie Gruber: A 2004 Olympian at 1,500 meters, Gruber won the first U.S. title of his career with his victory in the short course event last year in Indianapolis. A five-time All-American while at Kansas, Gruber won the 1,500m at the 2004 Prefontaine Classic and ended the season ranked #2 in the U.S. in that event by T&FN.
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, N.C. In 2003, Lincoln was the runner-up in the steeplechase at USA Outdoors before winning that event at the 2004 Olympic Trials to qualify for his first U.S. Olympic team.
Dathan Ritzenhein: The 2003 NCAA cross country champion, 2001 World Cross Country Championships junior men's bronze medalist and 2004 Olympian at 10,000 meters, Ritzenhein last competed at the USA Cross Country Championships in 2002 when he placed fifth in the 12 km race at Vancouver. A month later he placed 24th at the World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
Jorge Torres: The 2002 NCAA Division I men's cross country champion, Torres hopes to add another national championship to his impressive list of accomplishments. 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. He placed third last year in the long course race in Indianapolis.
Alan Webb: The 2003 USATF National Club Cross Country champion, Webb is looking to add another national cross country title to his resume this weekend. At the club championships, Webb (30:13.1) edged Daniel Lincoln by three-hundredths of a second (30:13.4) to win the men's 10 km national title. Webb first caught the nation's attention as a high school star when he ran the indoor mile in 3:59.86 seconds at the New Balance Games in New York. Four months later, at the Nike 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 earlier.
Anne Marie Brooks-Schwabe: After placing third in the women's long course race at the USA Cross Country Championships in Indianapolis, Brooks-Schwabe is slated to compete in the short and long course events this weekend in Vanocouver. A two-time member of the USA World Cross Country Championships team, her best performance was a 31st place finish in the long course race last year in Brussels, Belgium.
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). She placed fourth in the short course race at last year's USA Cross Country Championships in Indianapolis. Buttry finished 60th in the 4 km race at the 2004 World Cross Country Championships in Brussels.
Shayne Culpepper: The 2003 USA short course cross country champion, Culpepper will attempt to regain her title Sunday in Vancouver. In qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team for the second time in her career in 2004, Culpepper won the 5,000m title at the Olympic Trials in Sacramento. Earlier that year Culpepper won the USA Indoor Championships 3,000m title prior to capturing the World Indoor Championships 3,000m bronze medal. She ended the 20004 campaign ranked #1 in the U.S. at 3,000m and 5,000m by T&FN.
Colleen De Reuck: The winner of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women's Marathon Team Trials in St. Louis, De Reuck enters the long race in Vancouver as the defending national champion. De Reuck made her first Team USA appearance at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, Ireland, where she won the individual bronze medal (27:17) and along with silver medalist Deena Drossin, led Team USA to a team silver medal. De Reuck made her second Team USA appearance at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she placed eighth overall (26:49) in the long course event, and along with silver medalist Deena Kastor, led Team USA to a team bronze 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).
Shalane Flanagan: The reigning U.S. women's national cross country champion at 4 km, Flanagan won the 2002 and 2003 NCAA Division I women's cross country champions while at the University of North Carolina. 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. Flanagan competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens after placing third in the 5,000 meters earlier that summer at the Olympic Trials. She ended the 2004 season ranked #4 at 3,000m and #3 at 5,000m in the U.S. by T&FN.
Lauren Fleshman: After finishing third in the women's short course race last year in Indianapolis, Fleshman will look to improve on that position Sunday in Vancouver. 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 T&FN.
Collette Liss: Runner-up in the short course race in 2003, Liss is entered in both the short and long course events 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.
Katie McGregor: Always a tough competitor at the USA Cross Country Championships, McGregor is entered in both women's events in Vancouver in search of her first national XC crown. She nearly got it last year when she finished as the runner-up in the 8 km championship to Colleen De Reuck. In World Cross Country Championships competition, McGregor placed 16th in the long course race in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2003, and 27th in that event last year in Brussels. Placed fourth at 2004 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters.
Jen Rhines: In only the third marathon of her career, Rhines placed third at the 2004 U.S. Women's Marathon Olympic Trials in 2:29:57 to earn her spot on the U.S. Olympic team in Athens. Rhines also competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney in the 10,000 meters. She placed 5th in the 8 km at the USA Cross Country Championships in 2003 after placing 12th at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships and winning a team silver medal. A three-time NCAA 5 km outdoor champ while at Villanova, Rhines is the 1994 NCAA Division I cross country champion.
For more information on the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships, visit the USATF Web site at: www.usatf.org