From Paul Merca
INDIANAPOLIS - America's top post-collegiate club teams will head to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Saturday, December 9 for the eighth annual USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships.
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 team. Close to 1,200 competitors are expected to compete in this event, making it the largest U.S. Cross Country Championships ever. The event will feature open and masters races at 10-kilometers for men and 6-kilometers for women.
The women of See Jane Run, the two-time defending national champions, make the short trip to San Francisco on a roll, winning the USATF Southern California Association championship last month for the third consecutive year.
In the 2005 Club Championship race, See Jane Run scored 86 points to defeat the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) by 20 points. The adidas Raleigh TC earned the team bronze medal as the Indiana Invaders and the Farm Team rounded out the top five.
The Janes are led by Kim Ramirez (37th in 2005), who ran second in last's month's Southern California championship race. See Jane Run returns Kelle Taylor (71st), and Graciela Torres (29th) from last year's championship team and added 2001 Team USA member Sylvia Mosqueda to their squad. The BAA and the adidas Raleigh TC once again look to be the squads that have the best chance of dethroning See Jane Run. Wisconsin Runner RT is also expected to contend for the title.
Elizabeth Woodworth of the Wisconsin Runner RT returns to defend the individual crown she won in Rochester last year. Recent Arizona State University cross country All-American Amy Hastings, a member of Team USA's junior cross country squad in 2003, is perhaps the woman with the best chance of unseating Woodworth. Erin Dromgoole of New Balance Boston, who finished fourth last year in 20:37, also is entered.
Others to watch include former national cross country team members Rebecca Donoghue (New Balance Boston) and Katherine Newberry; former Boston College standout Megan Guiney (New York AC) and Emily LeVan (BAA), who was the first American to finish the 2005 Boston Marathon.
Local favorite Asics Aggies aim for men's team title
The men's team competition appears to be wide open, with the host Asics Aggies, Eugene's Team XO, ZAP Fitness, and the Wisconsin Runner RT appearing on paper to be the best squads entered in this meet.
In 2005, the Hanson's-Brooks Distance Project won the national club title, scoring 50 points to the Asics Aggies' 68. Team XO finished third, with Wisconsin Runner Racing Team in fourth and the BAA taking fifth. Max King (Team XO) and Brandon Leslie (Sports Warrior TC) are the top returning prospects for the individual title after finishing third and fourth, respectively, in Rochester last year.
Besides King and Leslie, who represented Team USA at this year's World Cross Country Championships, other leading contenders for the individual title include 2002 USA Men's 10 km champion Ryan Kirkpatrick (Boulder Running Co./adidas); Matt Downin and Bobby Lockhart (Wisconsin Runner RT); and Joe Driscoll and Thomas Morgan (ZAP Fitness).
Paulo Carvalho of the Asics Aggies, who led his team to a second place finish in Rochester, returns to help the Aggies, alongside John Service, who ran second for the squad at last month's Pacific Association cross country championships on the same Golden Gate Park course.
Top masters scheduled to compete
Many of the country's top masters (athletes 40 years and older) squads will also do battle on the Golden Gate Park turf for age division championship titles over a 10-kilometer course.
Brian Pope of the Southern California Track Club aims for a three-peat in the 40-45 division while Tony Young of Club Northwest, one of America's premier masters runners in the 1500 meters and mile, looks to dethrone the three-time defending champion.
Pete Magill of Team Runners High, a standout in the 40-44 category, moves up to the next age bracket to challenge teammate David Olds, along with former Olympic marathoner John Tuttle (Atlanta TC), and David O'Keefe (Genessee Valley Harriers), for top individual honors.
Magill leads Team Runners High in its defense of the 2005 masters title in the men's 40-49 division while the Asics Aggies will counter with former national class runners Ivan Huff and Carmelo Rios. Also spicing up the field in that division is 1977 world junior cross country champion Thom Hunt (San Diego TC).
The women's masters race is wide open, with Karen Steen of Seattle's Club Northwest, Maria Trujilo and 1996 Olympic marathoner Linda Somers-Smith (Asics Aggies) vying for top individual honors. Steen is at the forefront of Club Northwest's title defense in the women's 40-49 age division, while Trujilo and Somers-Smith lead the Aggies. Defending individual masters champion Carmen Ayala-Troncoso (Rogue Running), is competing in the women's open race.
For more information about the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.