Monday, December 21, 2015

Recap of 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships-Men's Races--Overall and M40+/M50+ Teams

December 21 2015. The USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship races were held on Saturday, December 12th at the Golden Gate Park course in San Francisco California. We were lucky with the weather. Earlier in the week they had heavy rainstorms to the north of San Francisco but much lighter in the Bay area. By Saturday morning there was no rain, the course was in good condition, and the temperature and wind conditions were great. Many of the fastest runners in the country were gathered to contest for team and individual crowns. The men's races were divided in two. The M60+ and up runners went off earlier, running an 8K course; the M40+ and M50+ runners followed, running a 10K course.

Overall

First Across the LineAlthough Club Cross Country recognizes no 'Overall Winner', we can call attention to the first runner across the line in each of the two Men's contests.

Overall--M60+ and up. At first it looked like Rick Becker might just run away with this.
Rick Becker out to an early lead in the Men's 60+ Division of the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

He moved to the front and by the time they reached the gravel track he had a small gap on the rest of the field, with runners like John Barbour, Tom Bernhard and John Victoria forming the lead part of the chase pack. In the early going, Becker had 6 seconds on Barbour and Barbour had another 6 on the chasers.
John Barbourchasing after Becker in early going at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

By the time they arrived at the first split it looked like a 2-man race for first. Becker was leading, at 10:37 but Barbour had closed to within three seconds. Unless something surprising happened, it looked like the chase pack was racing for third. It was 25 seconds back to the group consisting of Doug Steedman, Reno Stirrat, Victoria and Bernhard,
Chase Pack consisting of Doug Steedman (Aggies, John Victoria (orange), Reno Stirrat (on Victoria's left shoulder), and Tom Bernhard (#1562) at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
 and then a smaller gap back to Greg Wilson and Mark Rybinski.

By the second split it was even closer up front, but the same pattern of leaders and chasers was seen. Becker crossed at 23:43.4 with Barbour at 23:43.8, tight on his shoulder. Would Barbour be able to hang tight and then sprint by at the end. We can be sure both runners were thinking about it. Now it was over a minute back to the chasers, with Tom Bernhard, on an off day, struggling to keep contact with the chase group. After a stellar autumn road running season, he must have been wondering what he had to do to have a good cross country race. The others in the chase pack were as tight as the two leaders. Victoria, Rybinski, Stirrat and Steedman all sped past in the interval between 24:59.3 and 25:00.2--what a race!

Up the final hill and Barbour was still shadowing Becker and the strain was showing on his face as he gathered himself to see if he could surge away from Barbour before the final stretch. And now the chase pack was down to three, Steedman, Victoria, and Stirrat toiling up the hill together, in single file, with a small gap back to Rybinski and another small gap back to Bernhard. By the time they hit the gravel track heading for the finish, Becker had opened a small gap, about 2 seconds on Barbour. Would it be enough or would Barbour come storming by at the end? And what about the chasers? The three were still together but now Victoria had opened a small gap of a second or two on Steedman and Stirrat but it was still anyone's race. And they had a bigger gap now on Rybinski and Bernhard.

Becker was able to pull away over the latter part of the race, a true champion in 28:58!

Rick Becker takes first in the Men's 60+ Division at at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
John Barbour had fought the good fight the whole way, had spent it all and had no blistering kick to offer at the end. He finished six seconds back with a strong, well-earned 2nd place.
John Barbour finishes strong to claim 2nd place in the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

But one runner definitely had a strong, surging finish--Rybinski took 3rd in 30:17,
Mark Rybinski claims 3rd at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

with Stirrat, Steedman, Bernhard and Victoria following in that order.
Reno Stirrat
Doug Steedman
Tom Bernhard
John Victoria

Tough, tough race and a shame that they could not all be on the podium. But all the more honor to the winners!
Becker, Barbour, Rybinski.

Overall-Men's 40+/50+.  There was far less drama in this race. The scintillating runner from Lafayette, Louisiana, Kevin Castille, headed to the front when the starter's gun went off, established a gap on the field, and never relinquished it.
Kevin Castille building a large lead in the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Castille crossed the first split in 9:11 with an 11 second lead on Mitchell.
Greg Mitchell, in 'no man's land' behind Castille but well ahead of any other chasers at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Mitchell had 4 seconds on Neville Davey, who, in turn had a 4 second gap on a large chase group
Neville Davey, with Jacques Salberg in hot pursuit at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

including Samuel Alexander, Jacques Salberg, Clint Wells, Uli Steidl, John Howell, Oscar Bauman, John Gardiner, and Mark Yuen at the front.
Samuel Alexander, John Howell, Oscar Baumann, Uli Steidl, and John Gardiner toiling up a hill in pursuit of the leaders at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
 The race for the third and final spot on the podium would prove to be more interesting. Castille built up his gap on Mitchell at the same time that Mitchell built his gap on the chasers. By the second split, which Castille hit in 21:26, he had 18 seconds over Mitchell who had another 26 seconds on the rest of the field. By now the chase group had broken up. Salberg and Davey came through shoulder to shoulder in 22:10, with 7 seconds back to Wells and a larger gap back to the rest.

In the end it was Castille by over half a minute in 31 minutes flat!
Kevin Castille, 1st across the finish line in the Men's 40+/50+ Division Race at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Mitchell took 2nd comfortably in 31:26,
Greg Mitchell, 2nd in the Men's 40+/50+ Division Race at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

and Davey turned on the jets to claim 3rd in 31:47,
Neville Davey, 3rd in the Men's 40+/50+ Division Race at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

with Salberg ten seconds back, followed by Wells, Howell, Steidl, Alexander, O. Bauman and Gardiner rounding out the top 10. Castille, Mitchell, Davey.


Age-grading.

The top age-grading performance in the 40+/50+ race, and in the Men's races together, was turned in by Kevin Castille, 43,  with a 91.42%.

Rick Becker, 61, was second, at 90.67%

 Joe Sheeran, 58,  was third at 90.52%

Team Races. Club Cross Country is all abut the team championships so we will focus on those next. For the 40+ and 50+ teams, the team score is the sum of the places of the top 5 runners, with low score winning.

Men 40+. Twenty-eight teams toed the starting line. The top teams in 2014 were the Bowerman Track Club, the Atlanta Track Club and the B.A.A. (Boston) in that order and all three teams were on hand for the 2015 edition. And let's add three West Coast teams into the action, Cal Coast Track Club (SoCal), Club Northwest (Seattle), and West Valley Track Club (SF Bay Area). Given the locale the West coast clubs are a little more likely to be at or close to full strength and the East Coast clubs a little less so. With apologies to the other teams, this summary will focus on the top 6.

Runners for each club, in alphabetic order, include:
Atlanta: Valentin Alvarez, Steve Bell, Alan Black, Kristian Blaich, Victor Breedveld, Thomas Carroll, Eric Stabb, Aaron Totten-Lancaster.

B.A.A.: James Callaghan, Peter Hammer, Christopher Lawrence, Wayne Levy, Christopher Magill, Ryan McCalmon, Keven O'Neil, Harry Stants.

Bowerman: Ahrlin Bauman, Oscar Bauman, Matthew Farley, Joshua Gordon, John Howell, Greg Mitchell, Orin Schumacher, Everet Whiteside.
 
Cal Coast: Christian Cushing-Murray, Steven Frisone, John Gardiner,  Frederick Herr,  Arnold Seto, Jonathan Stiles, Tony Torres, Jerome Vermeulen.

Club Northwest: Samuel Alexander, Seth Berntsen, Nicholas Bowden, Michael Bresson, Ian Fraser, Jeff Hashimoto, David McCulloch,  Ben Sauvage.

West Valley Track Club: Neville Davey, Mark Yuen, Todd Rose, Charles Mullane, Ivan Lieben, Rhodes Walton

We know that Greg Mitchell led the way for Bowerman, Neville Davey for West Valley, Samuel Alexander for Club Northwest, and John Gardiner for Cal Coast. We also know that Oscar Bauman was a 2nd runner in the top 10 overall for Bowerman. That is good but it does not necessarily mean they will win. It takes 5 to win. How did the other team members do? In a big race like Club Cross, with 28 teams vying for the victory, if they were able to run in a tight pack, they can win without a runner in the top 10.
Early Days in the Men's 40+/50+ race with Joshua Gordon(1878), Cush Cushing-Murray (head just visible behind Gordon), Uli Steidl (2144), Chris Magill (right back from steidl), Alan Black (1834), Jaime Heilpern (1815) and Chafik Azerki (2153) striding out and looking for an early edge at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

At the first split, the leaders came through in the 9:20's with the top teams closing out their 5th runner between 9:55 and 10:20, almost a third of the way through. Atlanta had Black (26), Totten-Lancaster (32), Blaich (33), Stabb (42), Carroll (45) for 178. [Actual score was lower because any unaffiliated runners and runners for incomplete teams are dropped from the team scoring.] Of course, they didn't know the score; they just knew there were too many runners from other teams up ahead, and hoped that some of them had overcooked the first part of the race.
Kristian Blaich (Atlanta), heading up the hill with Joshua Gordon (Bowerman) trying to keep in contact, with Ivan Lieben (West Valley) looking to move up at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

It would be tough to break into the top 3 without two of their mainstays, Chad Newton and Matthew Whitis. The BAA had a nice pack up toward the front with McGill, Stants, McCalmon and Hammer in 18th through 21st, but there was a gap back to their 5th and 6th runners O'Neil and Callaghan in 63rd and 72nd. One would need to move up for the BAA to do really well. Bowerman made it through the first part of the race in the best shape, no doubt. It was Mitchell (2), O. Bauman (9), A. Bauman (23), Gordon (24), and Schumacher (30) for 88. But except for Mitchell and O. Bauman the rest would have been uneasy about that BAA pack of 4. Cal Coast had Gardiner in 10th and Cushing-Murray in 15th, but the rest were a bit more spread out. Vermeulen, who prefers his races shorter and flatter if his performance at the USATF 1 Mile earlier this year is any indication, was in 29th, followed by Stiles in 44th and Herr in 67th.

Jerome Vermeulen leading the way up a hill with his teammate, Jonathan Stiles (blue) and  Mark Tompkins keeping pace at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
They were doing a bit better than Atlanta but would have figured Bowerman and the BAA definitely had the edge at this stage, not to mention West Valley Track Club. West Valley had Davey in 3rd and Yuen in 11th, Lieben 28th, Rose 31st, and Mullane 35th. Club Northwest was a bit off the pace as a team. they had Alexander in 4th of course but then it was a ways back to Bresson in 49th and Fraser and Hashimoto in 57th and 65th. Bowden closed out the top 5 in 80th position. Quite a few had to move up for them to have an impact on the race. West Valley was not quite up with Bowerman but were not far off; they would worry about the BAA's 4-pack of course. And there was a lot of race left to run. Still at this point it was looking good for Bowerman, West Valley and the BAA.

Christian Cushing-Murray, (Cal Coast), Pete Hammer (B.A.A. on his right shoulder), Chris Magill (B.A.A.) , Ahrlin Baumann, and Alan Black (Atlanta) striding up a hill at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

The leaders hit the 2nd split in the mid to high 21's to the low 22's but the field was now spread out. Two-thirds of the way through the race the 5th runners for the top teams were not coming through until over 24 minutes and with many runners from other teams still in the middle section. Bowerman had, if anything, solidified its lead. Mitchell (2), Howell (6) and O. Bauman (7) led the way but A. Bauman and Schumacher were  running strong in 22nd and 23rd. The B.A.A. pack was holding together pretty well and 3 of the 4 had moved up a bit. Stants and Hammer were together in 14th and 15th, followed by McCalmon in 19th and Magill in 21st. But neither O'Neill nor Callaghan, despite their earnest efforts had been able to move up. Because of that West Valley was sitting solidly in second although not many of their team would have realized it. They had Davey and Yuen in 4th and 12th but the rest of their top runners were behind the BAA pack and didn't know where the 5th BAA runner was. Still, their confidence must have been rising as they had been moving up. Rose and Mullane were now in 24th and 26th, with Lieben in 34th. The top runners for Atlanta had moved up a bit with Black  now in 17th and Blaich in 29th, and Carroll 2 spots better in 43rd.
Ahrlin Baumann (Bowerman) leading Alan Black (Atlanta) up the hill at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
, Cal Coast 177, Atlanta 180,  Club Northwest 227. Things were actually pretty neat and clear cut for the first three spots, something drastic would have to change. But two teams with a tremendous history and a lot of pride were going to duke it out for the 4th and 5th spots. And they had to be careful, at the same time, to keep Club Northwest at bay.

When they got to the finish it was, in terms of the Men's 40+ team competition, Mitchell crossing the line first, followed by Davey of West Valley and Clint Wells of the Boulder Track Club, which was destined for 12th.

Clint Wells, finishing 5th for the Boulder Track Club at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
In terms of the top clubs, Howell, also of Bowerman, came speeding across next in 4th,
John Howell (Bowerman), heading for the finish line with Uli Steidl in urgent pursuit at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

with Club Northwest's Alexander in 6th, Bowerman's O. Bauman in 7th and Cal Coast's Gardiner in 8th.
Samuel Alexander (Club Northwest) finishing just ahead of Bowerman's Oscar Baumann at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Then the B.A.A. and Atlanta were heard from with Hammer in 10th and Stants in 13th, with Atlanta's Black sandwiched between in 11th.West Valley's Yuen came in 14th, with his teammate Rose in 18th.
Mark Yuen heads in for one of the top finishes for his West Valley track Club at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

In between was Club Northwest's Michael Bresson 15th, Cal Coast's Cushing-Murray 16th and B.A.A.'s Magill in 17th;
Finishing in a flurry, Michael bresson (Club Northwest), followed by Mike McManus (Urban Athletics NYC), Christian Cushing-Murray (Cal Coast), and Todd Rose (West Valley Track Club) where the points are critical for their team finish at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Atlanta's Blaich had moved up significantly, finishing 19th.
Kristian Blaich (Atlanta) and Ahrlin Baumann (Bowerman) driving for the tape to contribute much needed finishes for their teams at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

At that point, Bowerman had 3 runners in and a total of 12 points; West Valley had 3 in with 34 points; B.A.A. had 3 runners in with 40 points. Northwest had 2 in with 21 points, Cal Coast 2 in with 24 points, and Atlanta 2 in with 30. Bowerman had first place all but locked up but the B.A.A. and West Valley were still sparring for 2nd. With only two runners sin, the race for 4th and 5th was less clear.

When A. Bauman and Schumacher finished in 20th and 21st, that slammed the door on all the others. Bowerman TC had 5 runners in and a total of 53 points. No one could match them.West Valley's Mullane was next in 23rd, with Cal Coast's strong closing Vermeulen in 24th. Totten-Lancaster came across in 27th for Atlanta, with McCalmon kicking it in for a 29th place B.A.A. finish.

West Valley now had 4 with 57 and the B.A.A. 4 with 69, but that was the end of their 4-pack so, whether they realized it or not they were now hoping to salvage the 3rd podium spot. Cal Coast now had 3 with 48 points, Atlanta 3 with 57 and Club Northwest still at 2 with 21. They needed a 3rd runner badly.

But West Valley, Atlanta and Cal Coast got the next good news with Lieben in 30th, Carroll in 31st and Stiles in 32nd. West Valley was done and 2nd place locked up with their 87 points. Atlanta might still salvage 3rd place; they now had 4 runners in with 88 points and Cal Coast had 4 with only 80 but Atlanta had reason to believe they could hold off Cal Coast. What about the B.A.A.? They had 4 runners in with 69 points but how far behind would their 5th runner be? Atlanta's 5th runner had to beat the B.A.A.'s by 20 points for Atlanta to make the podium.Atlanta did not have long to wait as Stabb came across for them in 34th. Atlanta was done; 5 runners in with 122 points. Now they had to wait and see. How about Cal Coast? If their 5th runner finished 41st or better, they ease past Atlanta on the leader board.

Who's next? Northwest's Hashimoto in 36th, followed by a bunch of runners from other teams but finally a runner comes in sight that the B.A.A. had been hoping for. O'Neill comes storming across the line to claim 42nd and the final spot on the podium. Their first 5 add up to 114 so they edge Atlanta by 8 points. Northwest is now at 3 with 57 while Cal Coast is at 4 with 80. Northwest's 4th and 5th runners come in together though in 46th and 47th, giving them 5 runners in before Cal Coast--a shocker! Still, their total is 150. As long as Cal Coast's 5th runner finishes better than 70 they are in for the 5th place finish. They have only 18 seconds to wait as Torres comes across in 54th place to give Cal Coast 134 points and 5th place.

Final Standings:
1. Bowerman Track Club;
2. West Valley Track Club; 
3. B.A.A.;
4. Atlanta Track Club; 
5. Cal Coast Track Club;
6. Club Northwest.

Other top ten teams included:   
7. Asics Aggies Running Club; 8. Seattle Running Club; 9. Run-MN; 10. Greater Springfield Harriers.

[Side note: The runners were, no doubt, exhausted at the end of the race. I found that tracing the place ranking through the 'splits' summary almost as exhausting, at least, of my patience. For the rest of the summaries, as far as splits are concerned I will use the artificial approximation of pretending that there are only these 6 teams entered and we track scoring just among these runners. At then end, of course, I use the official finishing places among all team runners.]

Men 50+. Eighteen teams were on hand to challenge for the title.The top teams in 2014 were Club Northwest, Cal Coast Track Club, and Playmakers Elite/New Balance and all 3 teams are back. In addition there is some added competition from 2 west coast teams that did not contest the issue in Bethlehem PA last year, the powerful Bowerman Track Club, out of Oregon, and New Balance-San Diego. In addition, a rejuvenated East Coast club also made the trip to try for the podium, the Greater Springfield Harriers. Again, with apologies to the other teams I focus on the top 6. Here are the members of the squads:

Bowerman: Mike Blackmore, John Clifford, David Engstrom, Dan Franek, Daniel Gonzalez, Steven Kollars, Scott Tucker, Patrick Wagner.

Cal Coast: Jeff Ambos, Robert Arsenault, Matt Ebiner, Ken Ernst, Ray Knerr, David Olds, Gustav Quinonez,  Thomas Schumann.

Club Northwest: Paul Abdalla, Carl Combs, Lance Logan, John O'Hearn, Joe Sheeran, Michael Smith, David White-Espin, Tony Young.

Greater Springfield Harriers: Francis Burdett, Peter Fratini, Christopher Gould,  Alejandro Heuck, Nat Larson, Ron Lombardi, Charles Shaw.

New Balance-San Diego: Jeff Creighton, Patrick Lanoiselee, Scott McEntee, Gerard Reski, Dick Robinson, Robert Verhees, George Vontsolos, Kevin Zimmer.

Playmakers Elite: Dave Bussard, Daniel Dixon, Ruben Henderson, Tim Lambrecht, J.D. Pepper, Eric Stuber, Ron Zywicki.

Because the 50+ and 40+ Men's teams ran in the same race, we lack information about how the race came out. The fleetest of the 50+ men were close to the front for the first part of the race but none were in the top group by the end. We do know that last year, the top runner for each of the 3 returning teams finished in the top ten; Cal Coast's Pete Magill finished 3rd, with Joe Sheeran, of Northwest in 4th, and Eric Stuber of Playmakers in 7th. Magill had hoped to be back for Club Cross after a self-imposed year of getting back to basics and taking on a number of projects. But a fluke accident delayed his return to the running wars until after New Years. But Cal Coast has a deep team of 50 year olds and though they lack Magill, they added Rob Arsenault who recently turned 50.

At the first split San Diego's Verhees [1] came by in 10:01, with Combs [2] of Northwest right on
Carl Combs, building a lead on his M50+ competitors at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

his shoulder. Springfield's Larson [3] was only three seconds back. Four seconds further back and it was Cal Coast's Ernst [4] with Bowerman's Blackmore [5] and Northwest's Young [6] right behind, shoulder to shoulder in 10:11.Ernst's teammate, Arsenault [7], was 4 seconds back with Larson's teammate, Burdett [8], right on his heels. So Northwest, Cal Coast, and Springfield were the first teams to get two runners across the first timing mat, a good start for them. A few seconds back, the next runner was Northwest's Sheeran [9], perhaps an off day by his high standards, with Olds [10] of Cal Coast tracking him closely, and another top runner, the Playmaker's Stuber [11] right on their heels. Cal Coast's Ambos [12] was also right there. Then after a little gap, the runners come thick and fast. Cal Coast's Quinonez [13] speeds past in 10:29 and with him, finally, another Bowerman runner, Tucker [14], as well as Northwest's Smith [15] and Quinonez's teammate, Schumann [16] side by side. The 2nd Playmaker, Dixon [17], came across next in 10:37, with Bowerman's Franek [18] right on his heels, and Cal Coast's Ebiner [19] tracking Franek closely.Dixon's teammates, Henderson [20] and Zywicki [21] were hanging tight, crossing in 10:38 and 10:39. Then in 10:41 was the trio of Northwest's Logan[22], Playmaker's Bussard [23], and Cal Coast's Knerr [24].
Ray Knerr (Cal Coast) leading Club Northwest's John O'Hearn in pursuit of team glory at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Playmaker's had their usual tight pack but were not running as close to the front as in recent races.


Only 2 seconds back, in single file were San Diego's Zimmer [25] in 10:43, Bowerman's Clifford [26] in 10:44 and Northwest's O'Hearn [27] in 10:45. Springfield and San Diego need their other runners to come by soon; Cal Coast, Northwest and Playmaker's already have 5 (or more) runners past, and Bowerman has 4. Almost on cue, Springfield's Gould [28] comes across in 10:48. But Bowerman's 5th runner, Gonzalez [29], is right there on his shoulder.


Three seconds later, San Diego's Creighton [30] zips by and 4 seconds later, his teammate, Robinson [31], closes off the scoring thus far for San Diego. Four seconds further back, Springfield's Lombardi [32] leads Northwest's Abdalla [33] and his Springfield teammate, Heuck [34] across the mat to close out their top 5. At this point, a third of the way through the race, Cal Coast and Northwest were both in the hunt for 1st, although Cal Coast had the edge,46 to 54. Bowerman and Playmaker's were actually tied at 92 with Springfield not that far back at 105. New Balance San Diego needed several runners to move up to be competitive with that bunch.

How had things changed by the second set of official splits at about 2/3rds of the way through? Northwest's Combs [1] came through first in 23:35; he had passed San Diego's Verhees and opened up a lead of 17 seconds over Springfield's Larson [2] who had also passed Verhees. But Verhees [3] was still running strong at 23:55,
Robert Verhees (New Balance San Diego) striding up the hill enjoying a strong race for his club at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

with Cal Coast's Ernst [4] now right on his shoulder. Bowerman's Blackmore [5] was 2 seconds back. Cal Coast's Arsenault [6] had passed Northwest's Young for 6th, increasing Cal Coast's lead, and was now right on Blackmore's shoulder. Young [7] was ten seconds back but had a firm lock on his place, with a 14 second gap over Cal Coast's Ambos [8] who now was in Sheeran's [9] sights only 2 seconds ahead. Olds [10] was hanging in there, only 4 seconds back with Playmaker's Stuber [11] another 5 seconds back.  
David Olds (pink shoes leaving frame to the right), Jeff Ambos (Cal Coast, in blue), and Joe Sheeran (Club Northwest, in orange) shorten and quicken their strides to hasten uphill at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Springfield's Burdett [12] had been unable to stay with his teammate, Larson, once he surged to pass Verhees, but was still running strong on his own, 6 seconds behind Stuber. And he had almost ten seconds over the Playmaker's Dixon [13] who came across next in 24:53,
Dave Bussard (Playmakers) leads Michael Smith (Club Northwest, orange) and his Playmakers teammate, Dan Dixon up the hill, their eyes on the top and a flat stretch of running at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

with Northwest's Smith [14], San Diego's Zimmer [15], Cal Coast's 5th runner, Quinonez [16], Bowerman's Tucker [17], and Cal Coast's Schumann [18] in single file coming across the mat between 24:54 and 24:58. Bowerman's Franek [19], 2 seconds back, was trying to maintain contact. Cal Coast had their first 5 runners across the mat and were leading with 44 points. Northwest needed their 5th runner soon if they were going to challenge for gold.

Next up was Playmaker's Bussard [20] in 25:08, with Northwest's Logan [21] 4 seconds back. That gave Northwest their 5th runner past the mat and 52 points. They were no further back from Cal Coast but were no closer either. Cal Coast's Ebiner [22] hit the line in 25:14, helping to displace the  runners on the other teams. Playmaker's Zywicki [23] was 4 seconds back and 6 seconds ahead of Bowerman's Gonzalez [24]. Bowerman and Playmaker's were still locked in a fierce battle for 3rd, with 4 runners in, 65 for Bowerman and 67 for Playmakers. Another Cal Coast runner, Knerr [25], sped by 25:26, with Northwest's O'Hearn [26] 4 seconds back, with both runners driving other teams' point totals higher. Bowerman's 5th runner, Clifford [27], came next closing their total thus far at 92. Playmaker's Henderson [28], not having his best day but hanging in, was only 4 seconds back, keeping Playmaker's within striking distance of Bowerman for 3rd place, with 95 points.
Ruben Henderson (Playmakers) leads Matt Ebiner (Cal Coast, blue) up the hill at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

And now Springfield had 3 of the next 4 runners with Gould [29] , Heuck [31], and Lombardi [32] coming in a pack along with San Diego's Creighton [30], all within 2 seconds of 25:40. Engstrom [33] came across for Bowerman, followed by  San Diego's Robinson [34], Northwest's Abdalla [35], Bowerman's Wagner [36], and Northwest's White-Espin [37] 26:17.Fourteen seconds later  Lanoiselee [38] capped San Diego's intermediate score at 120 so they were still lagging well behind Springfield.

Combs [1] held strong and was first to the finishing tape for Northwest but San Diego's Verhees [2] gathered himself and was able to speed away from Cal Coast's Ernst and kick past Springfield's Larson.
Club Northwest's Carl Combs bringing it home in first for his M50+ team at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Ernst [3]was also able to outlast Larson to claim 3rd in 34:29. Larson [4] held off Bowerman's Blackmore [5] by 6 seconds.
Nat Larson kicks it in for 4th place, a great finish on behalf of his Greater Springfield Harriers at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]
 Another 6 seconds back was Cal Coast's 2nd runner, Arsenault [6], giving Cal Coast the early edge. But Northwest's Young [7] was conceding nothing as he stormed across 9 seconds later.
Club Northwest's Tony Young, smiling as he approaches the finish line, happy with a 7th place to contribute to his team's cause at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Each of those two teams had 2 runners in with Northwest at 8 and Cal Coast at 9. But 23 seconds later Ambos [8] answered for Cal Coast, coming across in 35:25. After Mike Nier (Genesee) and Dan King (Athletics Boulder) came across in 9th and 10th, Sheeran [11] replied for Northwest at 35:35, keeping them within 2 of Cal Coast.

But now their 4th and 5th runners had to have moved up ahead of Cal Coast's for them to snatch a gold. San Diego's Zimmer [12] was next at 35:37. Cal Coast's reliable veteran, Olds [15], sped across the finish line 6 seconds later and now Cal Coast could almost smell the victory. But first Dixon [16] and Stuber [18] came in for Playmaker's, 
Dan Dixon, with another fine performance in the books for the Playmakers team at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

bracketing Springfield's Burdett [17].
Francis Burdett drives to the finish line, the 2nd runner in for the Greater Springfield Harriers at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

Northwest's Smith [19] came in at 36:03 to keep Northwest's hope alive. Cal Coast had 4 runners in with 32 points and Northwest had 4 runners in with 38 points. Three seconds later, Bowerman's Tucker [22] crossed the line, followed closely by Cal Coast's 5th runner, Schumann [23]. That gave Cal Coast, with 55 points, the gold medal!

But it was close; Bowerman's Franek [24] finished in 36:11, with Playmaker's Bussard [26] in 36:22 and Northwest's Logan [27] 1 second back! Club Northwest had second with only ten more points than Cal Coast. Quinonez [25], Ebiner [31] and Knerr [38] added to the sense of Cal Coast's dominance. But how did the tussle between Bowerman Track Club and Playmaker's Elite  for the bronze medal pan out? At the time that Northwest sealed second, Playmakers had 3 runners in totaling 60 points and Bowerman had three runners in totaling 51 points. That's a sizable lead, but still either team's medal to claim. Playmaker's struck next with Zywicki [34] surging past the line in 36:41.
Ron Zywicki finishes strong for Playmakers at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

But their bubble burst as Bowerman's Gonzalez [35] and Engstrom [36] came across the finish line a few seconds back. That gave them 122 points and the bronze medal. When Henderson [44] came across 20 second later, that capped Playmaker's score at 138 points for 4th place. San Diego and Springfield duked it out for the honor of a top five finish. Springfield's Heuck [42] and Lombardi [45] were pretty tight, finishing right before and right after Henderson. That gave Springfield 4 runners in and 108 points. But San Diego answered with Creighton [48] and Robinson [49] coming in within 2 seconds of each other in 37:21 and 37:23. Now San Diego and Springfield were only 3 points apart with 4 runners in each. Who would get the all important 5th runner in first. Thirteen seconds later we found out and it was an unlucky 13 seconds for San Diego. Springfield's Gould [52] finished in 37:36
Christopher Gould, Springfield's 5th scoring runner, closes things out for their excellent 4th place finish at the2015 USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championship at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park [photo: Facebook--Michael Scott ]

and closed the door on San Diego's hopes for a top 5 finish. Lanoiselie [65] Finished San Diego's scoring for 176 points.

Final Standings:
1. Cal Coast Track Club 55
2. Club Northwest 65
3. Bowerman Track Club 122
4. Playmaker's Elite 138
5. Greater Springfield Harriers 160
6. New Balance/San Diego 176

Other top ten teams included:
7. Genesee Valley Harriers; 8. Athletics Boulder;  9. Atlanta Track Club; 10. Chattanooga Track Club.

[Note: Part 3 of this Club Cross recap series will include M60+ and M70+ team outcomes along with all of the Men's age group races.]

Another great set of races all around--congratulations to all the teams and individuals who raced and made it such an entertaining weekend!





3 comments:

  1. No mention of men's 70 and 80 year olds? Len

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, Len, a lot going on right now. The last installment will cover the Men's age group races. Stay tuned.

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