From Paul Merca
ORLANDO, Fla. - Team USA emerged victorious in three of Saturday's four team races at the second annual North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships at the National Triathlon Center in Clermont, Florida.
The 2006 field of more than 140 athletes representing 16 national federations of North America, Central America and the Caribbean in the second annual edition of the event.
Kauren Tarver of Wrightwood, Calif., led Team USA's junior women's squad to its second consecutive NACAC title with her third place finish over the 4-kilometer course, running 14:41, nine seconds behind winner Kate van Buskirk of Canada.
Following Tarver was a sea of red, white and blue, with Denise Bargiachi finishing fourth in 14:48, followed by Nichole Lister fifth in 14:58, McKayla Plank was seventh in 15:13, and Alicia Pabich eighth in 15:15 earning the U.S. team a 19-22 win over second place Canada.
The junior men's squad followed the lead of their female counterparts with a decisive 22-34 win in their competition over second place Canada. Team USA was led by Landon Peacock's bronze medal performance, running 19:30 behind Mexico's duo of Diego Borrego and Aaron Arias who covered the six kilometers in 19:25 and 19:29 respectively.
The American crew's Jordan McDougal placed 4th in 19:45. He was followed by Michael Magg in 6th, running 19:53. Jordan Kyle finished 9th in 20:26, while A.J. Acosta rounded out Team USA by finishing 10th in 20:44.
Team USA made it three for three in winning in the open women's team race over second place Canada 22-34, led by the third place finish of Rebecca Donaghue, who finished the 6-kilometer course in 21:57. Megan Metcalfe scored another individual title for Canada running 21:45.
The U.S. pack of Shannon Rowbury (21:59), Sally Meyerhoff (22:12), and Collette Liss (22:25), finished 4-5-6 respectively as Mary Duerbeck rounded out the American squad with her eighth place finish in 23:08.
In the open men's race, a strong Mexican squad led by defending NACAC champion Juan Luis Barrios foiled Team USA's hopes of winning all four NACAC titles, as Barrios led his team to a victory with a 16-31 win over Team USA.
Barrios out kicked teammate Alejandro Suarez to successfully defended his individual crown, running 25:17 over the 8-kilometer course.
Max King also finished with a big kick to outrun Alfredo Arevalo of Guatemala to duplicate his third-place finish of last year, running 25:49. Eugene Dennis placed eighth in 26:21, while Patrick Gildea finished ninth in 26:25, and Patrick Tarpy was 11th in 26:47.
For more information on the NACAC Championships, please visit www.usatf.org.
TEAM USA QUOTES:
Kauren Tarver (3rd, junior women)-The heat was a factor. It was a lot hotter today than where I'm from. I hoped to finish in the top group. It was a lot of fun running as part of the U.S. team. It was fun seeing the support we got today during the race. Today will definitely help me with preparing for the world championships.
Landon Peacock (3rd, junior men)-I decided to go out a little bit slow at the start, because of the heat. Towards the last lap of the race, I thought I wasn't going to make it. I made a move anyway. I was pretty happy to finish first for the US team. I just caught people as I went during the race. I just tucked in with the rest of the US team.
Rebecca Donaghue (3rd, senior women)-I thought it went pretty well today. I felt pretty comfortable through the first lap. The sandy portion of the course was the part that threw me off a bit. I tried to finish up strong and represent the US as best as I could, and not lose contact with the first group.
Max King (3rd, senior men)-I was pretty happy with the race. Obviously, it was pretty grueling with the heat and the hills. I'm still recovering a bit from the nationals in New York, but I should be ready to go in a few weeks for the world championships. I was able to beat the guy from Guatemala who beat me here last year, but I was really hoping to beat the two Mexicans who were ahead of me. I wasn't quite as strong as I wanted to be, but I thought I ran a pretty gutsy race.