Team USA scores three top-five team finishes at 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships

03-28-2009

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Jim Estes
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USA Track & Field
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AMMAN, Jordan– The Team USA junior men's, junior women's and senior women's cross country squads each finished fifth in the respective team standings on Saturday at the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships held at the Al Bisharat Golf Course. The Team USA senior men's team finished eighth as a team.

In the junior women's 6 km, Team USA was led by USA Junior Cross Country champion Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Pa.) who finished 19th in 21:33. Ashley Brasovan (Wellington, Fla.) ran a strong race to finish 26th in 21:55 while Alex Dunne (San Clemente, Calif.) and Emily Pritt (North Canton, Ohio) rounded out the scoring positions, finishing 34th and 43rd in 22:15 and 22:31 respectively.

Genzeebe Dibaba of Ethiopia successfully defended her individual title in 20:14 to lead Ethiopia to the team title.

Two-time USA Junior Cross Country Champion German Fernandez (Stilwater, Okla.) led Team USA with an 11th-place finish in the junior men's 8 km, running 24:13. Chris Derrick (Napierville, Ill.) finished seven seconds behind Fernandez to take 15th place as Luke Puskedra (Ogden, Utah) and Patrick DuPont (Fairport, N.Y.) wrapped up the team score, running 24:43 and 25:52, finishing 30th and 48th respectively.

Ayele Abshero ran 23:26 to capture the second individual title of the day for Ethiopia as Kenya took their first of three team titles.

Julie Culley (Arlington, Va.) led the senior women of Team USA in the 8 km, running 28:08 to take 21st place. Delilah Di Crescenzo ran 28:34 to finish 38th, followed by Rebecca Donaghue (State College. Pa.) and Kathy Newberry, running 28:37 and 28:50 respectively to finish 36th and 40th.

Florence Jebet Kiplagat took the overall win in 26:13 to lead Kenya to the team title.

In the final race of the day, Ryan Vail (Gresham, Ore.) led the Team USA men in the senior 12 km with a 33rd-place finish, running 36:54 while Bobby Curtis (Ardmore, Pa.) finished six seconds back to take 37th as Max King (Bend, Ore.) followed in 37:05 for 40th-place. Edwardo Torres (Boulder, Colo.) rounded out the Team USA score, finishing 58th in 37:38.

The final 600 meters of the race saw six men in contention for the win and though Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia pulled ahead in the final stretch, running 35:02 for a two-second win over Kenya's Moses Kipsoro, Kenya claimed the final team title of the day.

The 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships featured a total prize purse of $140,000 for individuals placing in the top-six in both the men's and women's senior races with $30,000 going to the champions. An additional $140,000 is on the line for the top-six teams in the senior divisions with the top men's and women's teams receiving $20,000.

For more information on the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.

ATHLETE QUOTES:

Julie Culley (Arlington, Virginia): I felt great the whole way, so I kept pressing, yet tried to stay patient. Realistically, I was hoping to get into the top 30, but I did better than my expectations. I've never run anything like this before, so I knew I had to get in it and be as tough as I could, but yet be patient.

The course was very difficult; however, the great thing about it is that you can charge the uphill knowing that you have a very long downhill, so you can put the effort going up, and relax going down.

Rebecca Donaghue (State College, Penn.): I got a good start, but I had a bit of trouble breathing once the race got underway. My legs felt pretty heavy, especially going up that last hill. I've never felt that bad finishing up the hill. I know that the altitude here isn't that high, but it does make a difference. I'm very happy that we got fifth as a team.

I think competing against international fields helps make you tougher. I am so proud to represent the United States and wear the uniform.

Senior Men–

Ryan Vail (Stillwater, Okla.): This was a tough course like everyone said it would be. I wanted to go out conservative knowing that it was a tough course, and it worked out well for me. It didn't really feel like I was making up any ground. I really didn't know where I was until people started yelling at me. I was just trying to survive out there.

It's a really good experience to have to go out that hard in a 12 k, then try to stay tough and hang on in the middle, and I'm going to try and take this and carry it with me the rest of the season.

Junior Women–

Ashley Brasovan (Wellington, Fla.): I was toward the back for the first half mile, and I worked my way up. I took the last two weeks off due to my Achilles injury. This was a confidence booster. Having other teammates who are of the same capability certainly helped during the race.

The entire team is a group of amazing people.

Alexandra Dunne (San Clemente, Calif.): I wanted to start out conservatively. We had 200 meters uphill, then 600m downhill. I was pretty far back, so I tried to pass people on the downhill. It was hard passing because it was so crowded, and so you had to shove your way through. I kept gradually picking off people. Going up the last hill was brutal, and I tried to maintain my position as best as I could.

There's always things to be learned from each race, and this meet was no different. This race is humbling as well.

Emily Pritt (Raleigh, NC): I started off a little bit conservative. The hills were about what I thought they were. I went and gave it my best effort. This was the hardest race I've run, and I'm glad I'm done.

This is an experience just to make this team. This experience is just a stepping stone. This isn't going to make or break your running career as one wise woman once said (motioning towards team leader Francie Larrieu Smith).

Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Penn.): The first loop felt fast. I tried to start out towards the back and I was able to work up from about 40th to about the 20s by the second lap around. I was able to use the second downhill to move up, but on the second uphill, I started to get a side stitch. I tried to focus on my breathing and recover on the downhill. I was able to pass a few people on the last uphill to the finish. This certainly was the hardest race I've ever run.

I'm so excited just to be here. This has been a great experience for me.

Junior Men–

German Fernandez (Stillwater, Okla.): The first two laps, my foot felt fine, but on the last two long loops I thought that the muscle was a little bit tight, and that the same thing that happened to me with my Achilles at NCAA nationals was going to happen, but then it went away. I just blocked out the pain. I'm really sore right now.

I just tried to go out with the front group and stay there as long as possible, and I think I did a pretty good job of it.

Ryan Hill (Raleigh, NC): Me and Pat (DuPont) were going to try and run the race together, then he had a great second half and I didn't. I ran on a tough course, and got my butt kicked. I was on a great team, and I had a lot of fun.

Francisco Medrano (Syracuse, NY): It was a fast start, but not as fast as I thought it would be. Surprisingly, it didn't' feel as bad as I thought it would be. There was a lot of elbowing and pushing. Someone tried to grab my jersey early. It was kind of fun, and kept my mind away from going out hard.

This experience makes me hungry. This race will be something that I will think about for the next year or so. This was a huge motivating race. When I go back to school, an experience like this will make an invitational race look like nothing.