USATF Cross Country Championships Plantes Ferry Park, Spokane Valley, Wa. Feb. 13, 2010

Blue skies and a pleasant temperature near fifty greeted runners greeted, who ventured to the Spokane area for the US National XC championships, that included junior runners as well. In the initial portion of the race Rolanda Jumbo of Wings & Molly Grabill, the 2009 Foot Locker Western Regional winner from Rancho Bernardo, Ca., could be clearly seen in 2nd & 5th place respectively.

Lindsay Flanagan, a freshman at the University of Washington, took a slight lead early on the mostly flat course with slight undulations. She was closely followed by a literal wall of Duke runners that included Juliet Bottorff, Sophia Zieman, Kayla Hale & Madeline Morgan. After the first kilometer the lead pack had been reduced to just nine runners with Flanagan holding a slight lead over Shelby Greany, the Duke quartet, Emily Sisson & Molly Grabill.Trailing about ten meters back were Samantha Roecker of Providence & Kyle Blakeslee of Augustana. They were trailed by about five meters & held a lead over a quintet of runners

By 1K the lead pack was joined by Laura Tremblay of Colorado and it was tightly packed. It was also a very fast pace for a high school girl & at that point the pack of ten saw Molly Grabill tucked at the very end of the group seemingly trying to hold onto it. I just a half a kilo the lead pack had been whittled down to just six runners who included Shelby Greany of Providence & Emily Sisson, who had placed third in the recent Foot Locker national championships. Just behind the lead pack ran Molly Grabill, who was now beginning to struggle to maintain the pace.

The leaders went through the 2K in 6:56 and the lead pack remained those six runners. Over the duration of the second 2K, second lap of the course, the race had evolved into a three-runner race with Shelby Greany, Emily Sisson & Juliet Bottorff fighting for the national title. The 4K split was 13:58 and Emily Jones, competing for Georgetown was fighting to stay in contention.

In the last lap Greany asserted herself & pulled away to a convincing victory of five seconds in a time of 20:27. Emily Sisson rallied after falling a bit behind to edge Juliet Bottorff for second clocking 20:32. Emily Jones closed well to take fourth just a second behind the duo. Laura Tremblay, a freshman at Colorado University, placed 5th & Sophia Zieman earned sixth. That was a key finish for the first six finishers earned a trip to Bygdoszcz, Poland, where the World XC Championships will be held next month.

Duke runners took the next two places as well with Kayla Hale & Madeline Morgan of the school becoming the top two alternates for the US team. Lindsay Flanagan finished ninth ahead of Audrey Huth of Northwestern and Kyle Blakeslee of Augustana College was 11th. Molly Grabill, who noted that she had “strained something” on the second loop, took 12th.

Catrina McAlister of California finished 14th and was also the number one finisher in the team race for the South Coast XC Elite A team, that defended its national title from 2009. Hannah Valenzuela (19th), Molly Mann (22nd), Laura Beresford (23rd) Sarah Darby (24th) & Robyn Arnold (25th-B team) garnered the next places as the team scored a perfect 10 point team a shut-out victory. Carly Kitts of Dallas Metroplex finished just behind them in 26th. Her Dallas team had placed second last year but everyone, save Cartly, was snowed-in at the Dallas airport. Wings of America, led by Rolanda Jumbo (31st) finished second in the team scoring.

Incidentally Tatum Ohana of the South Coast XC Elite team is one of the great stories of the meet. Tatum is a sprinter, when the track season comes along, & she can run a 59 quarter. She races cross country to help her get stronger but also enjoys the sport as well. Going into the race every member of the team was given a goal for which to strive & Tatum’s was simply not to finish last. Due partially to the blistering pace early no one had achieved their goal until Tatum and with 400 meters to go it did not appear that she would make hers either, as she was 100 meters down at that point. Tatum, however, was not about to give up without trying & in the ensuing 400 she unleashed her vaunted speed to overtake, barely, a runner from Wings of America. Tatum not only achieved her goal but now can proudly wear a Youth Runner T-shirt, that was awarded by coach Mike Dunne for her effort. Cross Country is such a great sport that her team was able to share in her personal victory.

Trevor Dunbar of Kodiak, Alaska running for the University of Portland left little doubt about the Junior Men’s race by bravely taking the lead early and never looked back. The Pilot runner, who had placed 2nd at Foot Locker in 2008, put his head down & plowed into the wind and was never challenged. He ran the first loop of the 8K course in 5:58, which put him six seconds ahead of the chase pack. His second lap of 6:04 (12:02 total) gave him around a fifty meter lead over the pack which was 17 seconds.

Julian Meyer of Ohio State led the chase pack early along with Andrew Colley of North Carolina State. While Dunbar forged the way by himself, the pack was huge and around thirty runners remained in contention as medalists. Among that group were Ben Johnston of North Central along with his former team mate Andrew Kimpel plus Robert Peavey & Ben Furscht of Georgetown, Robert Andrews of North Carolina State & high school students Ammar Moussa & Shane Moskowitz to name a few.

Dunbar continued alone through a third lap of 6:18 for a total of 18:20 still well in control of the race but the wind finally had an impact over the final loop, as he finally gave up some of his lead. Still in the end he was never really challenged and he won convincingly in a time of 24:04. Walter Schafer, a high school student from Colorado, provided the surprise of the race by taking second ahead a trio of collegiate runners. His time of 24:10 saw him finish six seconds in front of Andrew Colley of North Carolina State. Local favorite Andrew Kimpel, now running for Washington State, took 4th & Michael Lynch placed 5th. Ammar Moussa, yet another high school runner, scored the last ticket to Poland by placing sixth. Erik Olson finished 7th to become the first alternate for the US team just ahead of Jonathan Nelson of Brigham Young. Taylor Monaghan, Jeffrey Arnier & & Albaro Escalera rounded up the top eleven.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player

Conner Peloquin of Gig Harbor, a 2009 Foot Locker finalist, finished 13th to lead the Barron Park Striders team to a victory in that race. Andrew Gardner, a freshman from Mead HS in Spokane, placed 14th in front of two-time Foot Locker finalist, Shane Moskowitz.

In other action Shalene Flanagan challenged everyone to stay with her & only Molly Huddle accepted it, as she won the Women’s Open race easily in 25:10. Molly ended up running alone to take second. Dathan Ritzenhein allowed others like Ryan Vail to lead into the wind over the first three laps before finally drawing away to claim the US Championship. His time of 34:34 bested Patrick Smyth by 18 seconds.