by Mike Scott, Special to USATF
(ORLANDO) -- Thomas Morgan (Blowing Rock, NC) and Josh Simpson (Morgantown, W.V.) finished 1-2 in the senior men's 8-kilometer race to lead Team USA to the team title at the fourth annual North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
U.S. squads took team silver medals in the senior women, junior men, and junior women competitions at the event, which featured 61 athletes representing six national federations.
Running in the day's final event, the Team USA senior men were locked in a virtual dead heat with Team Canada for much of the race's first three laps before they surged away from their counterparts as they entered the final loop.
With a kilometer to go, Morgan and Simpson took the lead from Canada's Rob Watson, the early leader. Behind them, Team USA's Benjamin Bruce (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Travis Laird (Valley Center, Calif.) moved up through the field.
Morgan and Simpson powered away to win gold and silver in 22:42 and 22:48 respectively, with both finishing well under the previous course record of 23:10. Bruce and Laird placed fifth and sixth respectively to seal gold for Team USA, giving them a 14 to 22 margin over Team Canada.
Former Stanford University standout Kathleen Trotter (Palo Alto, Calif.) claimed bronze in the senior women's 6 km race to lead Team USA to the silver medal in the team competition. Team USA fell one point short of the gold-medalists Canada, 25 to 24, while Puerto Rico claimed bronze with 47 points.
Trotter (19:35) finished third behind Olympian Carmen Douma-Hussar (Canada) and World Championships steeple finalist Korene Hinds (Jamaica), timed in 19:24 and 19:33 respectively. Trotter led a 3-4-5 USA finish that included Serena Ramsey-Burla (Columbia, Mo.) and Erin Dromgoole (Brighton, Mass.). Ramsey-Burla and Dromgoole crossed the line in 19:36 and 19:37 respectively. Tera Moody (Boulder, Colo.) rounded out the scorers for Team USA, placing 13th in 20:42.
Emily Reese won silver in the junior women's 4 km race to lead her squad to silver behind Team Canada, finishing in 13:15. Canada scored 13 to Team USA's 29, while Puerto Rico placed third with 49 points.
The Harvard-bound Reese finished second to Canada's University of Washington-bound Kendra Schaff, who struck gold in 13:03. Emilie Amaro (Cooper City, Fla.) finished 7th in 13:35, while Katja Goldring (Beverly Hills, Calif.) finished 9th in 14:06 and Jacqueline Taylor (Petaluma, Calif.) finished 11th in 14:27.
Ryan Sheridan (Melville, N.Y.) and Brendan Gregg (Davis, Calif.) won silver and bronze in the junior men's 6 km competition, with Kevin Williams (Lakewood, Colo.) finishing just behind in fifth but Team USA failed to score when teammate Benjamin Johnson (Albuquerque, N.M.) was unable to start due to injury.
Canada's Aleksandar Kuternin won gold in 17:21, with Sheridan second in 17:23, Brendan third in 17:32, and Williams fifth in 17:51.
For more information on the NACAC Cross Country Championships visit www.usatf.org.