From Paul Merca
ROCHESTER - The seventh annual USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships sponsored by Brooks Sports will see America's top post-collegiate club teams converge upon Genesee Valley Park in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday November 19.
The USATF National Club Cross Country Championships features the top clubs from across the United States vying for top honors and bragging rights as the nation's top cross country club team. A field of nearly 900 competitors is expected to compete in this event labeled the "Feast in the East" by the local organizers. Featured races include a 10-kilometer men's race, and a 6-kilometer women's race.
Led by 2005 World Championships marathon team members Brian Sell, Clint Verran and Chad Johnson, the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project from Rochester Hills, Mich., are aiming to win their fourth national club championship in five years. The Hansons squad was upset by the Palo Alto, Calif., based Farm Team in last year's championships in Portland, Ore. The Farm Team won the national club title scoring 89 points to the Hanson's 114.
Other top returning clubs include last year's third-place team, Asics Aggie RC, the Sports Warrior TC and Wisconsin Runner Racing Team.
Some of the leading entries in the men's race include former world cross country team members Fasil Bizuneh (Big Sur Distance Project), Jared Cordes & Isaiah Festa (Wisconsin Runner RT), Paul Kezes (Team XO) and Matt Tegenkamp (unattached).
In the women's race, the team from Southern California's See Jane Run rolls into Rochester looking to prove that their victory in the national title meet last year in Portland was no fluke.
Led by last year's 15th-place individual finisher Erika Akfuli and teammates Linn Schulte-Sasse, Kirsten O'Hara and Graciela Torres, the 2004 See Jane Run title squad returns for what looks to be a rematch of last year's close team race. Looking to reclaim their title from See Jane Run will be the 2003 team champion Farm Team, as well as teams from the Boston Athletic Association and Wisconsin Runner RT.
Many of the country's top masters (athletes 40 years and older) squads also will do battle on the Genesee Valley Park turf for age division championship titles over ten kilometers.
Brian Pope of the So Cal Track Club aims to defend his 2004 individual title, and add to the 5 km national harrier title that he won last month. Some of the top contenders looking to unseat Pope include last year's third-place finisher, Peter Magill of Team Runners High, and one of America's premier masters runners in the 1500 and mile, Tony Young of Club Northwest.
In the women's masters competition, the road to the individual national title goes directly through Carmen Ayala-Troncoso of Rogue Running. In 2004, the former world cross country team member won the national 6 km title in Portland, running 25:10.58. Ayala-Troncoso, like Pope, looks to add the 6 km crown to the 5 km harrier title won last month.
Karen Steen of Club Northwest appears to be the runner with the best chance to unseat Ayala-Troncoso for top individual honors. Steen is at the forefront of Club Northwest's title defense in the women's 40-49 age division.
Other top masters that are expected to vie for age division national titles include; David O'Keeffe (M45). James Robinson (M50), Don Coffman (M60), Ray Parrella (M70), Richard Sullivan (M75), Patricia Ford (W50), Carolyn Smith-Hanna (W55) and Elizabeth Szawlowski (W70).
The following is the schedule for the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 19, 2005:
Community 4 km Fun Run
Community Youth 2 km Fun Run
Masters Women's 6 km Run
Masters Men's 10 km Run
Open Women's 6 km Run
Open Men's 10 km Run
For more information about the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, please visit www.usatf.org/events/2005/USATFClubXCChampionships.