CLERMONT – Fasil Bizuneh (Flagstaff, Ariz.) led a U.S. sweep in the men's open race to take Team USA to the team title in the 8 km event today at the third annual North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships in Clermont, Fla. Bizuneh was timed in a course record 24:46.
U.S. squads also took the team silver medals in the open women, junior women and junior men races as a field of 125 athletes representing 16 national federations competed at the championships.
Consisting of many of the country's emerging-elite athletes, the Team USA squads featured 11 athletes who will be competing at the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya on March 24.
In the final event of the day, Team USA's Celedonio Rodriguez (Alamosa, Colo.) jumped to an early lead, pulling teammates Bizuneh, Michael Spence (Ogden, Utah) and Ryan Shay (East Jordon, Mich.) to the front with only Jose Ascierno of Mexico and Jose Raxon of Guatemala attempting to match the pace.
Heading into the third of four circuits on the 2 kilometer loop, Bizuneh had managed to join Rodriguez in the lead as Shay and Spence continued to control the chase pack. At 5 km Rodriguez held a two-step margin over his teammate while Shay and Spence had opened a gap on Raxon with Ascierno in tow.
Going into the final lap Bizuneh took the lead, steadily pulling away to a five second win over Rodriguez. Spence and Shay soon followed in 24:59 and 25:01 for third and fourth respectively to round out the day's only perfect team score of 10 points. Guatemala finished in the team silver position with 58 points and Jamaica scored 93 to win the team bronze.
In the first race of the day, Aurora Scott (Chesapeake, Va.) led the U.S. junior women to the team silver, running 14:20 to finish third in the 4 km. Lindsay Carson's 13:59 paved the way for Canada to win the team gold with a score of 18 to 26 over the Team USA. Jamaica scored 45 points for bronze.
In the junior men's 6 km event, Joshua Edmonds (Cooperstown, N.Y.) finished fourth in 19:31 to lead the U.S. squad to a team silver with 27 points. Canada won the team gold with 22 points. Jamaica took the bronze with 65 points.
Desiraye Osburn turned in a 21:06 for 6 km to lead Team USA's open women's squad to a team silver. Malindi Elmore of Canada took the individual win in 20:41 to lead her team to their third team gold of the day, scoring 21 points to Team USA's 41 with Jamaica only three points behind to take the team bronze.
Fore more information on the NACAC Cross Country Championships visit www.usatf.org.