INDIANAPOLIS - Members of the 2006 Team USA World Cross Country squad are poised to make a powerful showing at the 34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan on April 1-2.
Seeking to improve on their finish at last year's championships in St. Galmier, France, the senior women's 4 km team is stacked with talent, led by U.S. Olympian Carrie Tollefson (Minneapolis, Minn.), the 4 km champion at the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships. Joining Tollefson will be Blake Russell (Marina, Calif.), who in addition to being on the short-course roster will also represent the U.S. in the senior women's long course race after winning the 8 km title at the USA Cross Country Championships.
Additional support for the team will come from Amy Mortimer (West Roxbury, Mass.), a member of the 2005 bronze medal winning team, Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.), the 2000 NCAA Cross Country champion, Sarah Schwald (Madison, Wis.), the 1995 NCAA Indoor 3,000 meter champion and Sara Hall (Woodside, Calif.), who recently defeated a strong field at the Chiba International Cross Country races, winning the women's 6 km.
Men poised to excel in short course
A strong team led by Olympians Adam Goucher (Portland, Ore.), and Daniel Lincoln (Little Rock, Ark.), could lead the U.S. senior men's squad to their first ever team medal in the short course event.
In addition to Goucher and Lincoln, the 4 km team includes Ryan Hall (Woodside, Calif.), and Jorge Torres (Boulder, Colo.), who won titles in the 12 km and 4 km respectively at the recent Chiba International Cross Country races. Rounding out the team will be five-time Team USA cross country squad member Luke Watson (Minneapolis, Minn.), and fellow 2005 Team USA squad member Ian Dobson (Woodside, Calif.), the USA Outdoor Championship 5,000 meter runner-up.
After winning team silver in 2002 and bronze in 2003, Colleen De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.), the 2002 individual bronze medalist will join Blake Russell in leading the senior women's 8 km team in their quest to score a fifth trip to the podium since 1998 in the women's long course event.
De Reuck and Russell will be supported by 2005 USA 10,000 meter champion Katie McGregor (Saint Louis Park, Minn.), 2005 NCAA 10,000 meter champion Sara Slattery (Lafayette, Colo.), 2004 NCAA cross country runner-up Rene Metivier (Boulder, Colo.), and former University of Tennessee standout Sharon Thompson (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Led by Hall, the 12 km champion at the USA Cross Country Championships, the U.S. squad will look to make the medal stand for the second time since a bronze medal in the men's long course event in 2001. Backing Hall's efforts will be 2005 Team USA harrier Matt Gabrielson (Apple Valley, Minn.), along with first-time cross country team members Jason Hartmann (Boulder, Colo.), Max King (Bend, Ore.), Brandon Leslie (Santa Fe, N.M.), and Pat Gildea (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Junior teams led by national champions
The junior men's team will be led by Iowa State freshman Kiel Uhl (Ames, Iowa), who won the national junior title at the USA Cross Country Championships. Uhl's teammates will include Jordan McDougal (Peru, N.Y.), Scott MacPherson (Fayetteville, Ark.), Michael Eaton (Bowling Green, Ky.), Andrew Bumbalough (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Chris Barnicle (Fayetteville, Ark.).
The junior women's team is headed by 2006 junior champion Nicole Blood (Saratoga, N.Y.) Erin Bedell (Plano, Texas), Marie Lawrence (Reno, Nevada), Madeline McKeever (Durham, N.C.), McKayla Plank (New Rochelle, N.Y.), and Kauren Tarver (Wrightwood, Calif.) round out the squad.
Team USA Staff
Juli Henner (Reston, Va.), makes her second trip as a team leader on a world cross country team, and first as a senior women's team leader. A 1996 Olympian in the 1500-meters, Henner is currently assistant track and cross country coach at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Dr. David Martin (Atlanta, Ga.), will lead Team USA's senior men's squad in Fukuoka. For "Dr. Dave", this marks the fifth appointment as senior men's leader of Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, having led American squads in Paris, France (1980); Warsaw, Poland (1987); Antwerp, Belgium (1991); and, Vilamoura, Portugal (2000).
Danny Green (The Woodlands, Texas) the team leader for the junior men's team, is the head track and cross country coach at The Woodlands High School near Houston, the junior men's squad marks his first Team USA coaching assignment for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Mike Scott (Newport, R.I.), is the chairman of USA Track & Field's Cross Country Council, will serve as the team leader for the junior women in Fukuoka, his fourth Team USA team leader assignment.
USA Track & Field President, Bill Roe (Bellingham, Wash.), will serve as Team USA's chef de mission at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships for the sixth consecutive time, marking the eleventh time he's worked as either an international team leader or coach of a national squad.
For more information on the 2006 World Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.