Thursday, December 29, 2016

USATF Club Cross Country Championship-Recap 3--Teams and Extras

December 29 2017. At the National Club Cross Country Championships the focus is on which Clubs get  medals and prize money and, oh yes, bragging rights! Individual titles factor in but team contests are elevated relative to the other events in our circuit. And they brought teams from every corner of the USA, from the Pacific Northwest and California to New England, down through the Middle Atlantic to the new South, and back up to the Midwest. Scoring for the Women's 6K and the Men's 8K is the sum of the first three finishers for each team; for the men's 10K it is the first 5 finishers. My focus is primarily on the scoring runners on each team, with apologies to the others. Here we go:

Women 40+. Four teams had a realistic shot at the 3 podium positions: the Atlanta Track Club [TC], North Carolina's Bull City TC, Washington's Club Northwest, the defending champions, and Upstate New York's Genesee Valley Harriers. There were other strong teams entered but it appeared that the Impala Racing Team out of the Bay area in California and the Florida Track Club would be battling for 5th and 6th. Bull City would rely on four closely matched runners, Joan Mabe, Alexandra Bigelow, Meredith Bazemore, and Caren Mangarelli. Each of the other teams had a strong front runner-Sonja Friend-Uhl for Atlanta, Janet McDevitt for Northwest, and Heather Webster for GVH. But they would need their 2nd and 3rd runners to step up. Ordinarily Atlanta would have Holly Ortlund closely backing up Friend-Uhl but not today so Kathy Wiegand and Stephanie Whitis would have to raise their game. Northwest would rely on Camille Shiflett and Deborah Fletcher while GVH would rely on their reliable duo, Melissa Senall and Wakenda Tyler. By the time they reached the 2K mark in the wooded portion of the course, a few things were evident. McDevitt, tied for 1st, had Shiflett in support in 4th but Friend-Uhl, running at the front with McDevitt, did not have Ortlund's support. Try as they might, Wiegand and Whitis would have a tough time breaking into the top 10. Webster and Tyler were going well for GVH, in 5th and 6th but Senall was having an off day. Normally Tyler and Senall can be found within a few strides of each other in the early stages of a race, but not today; Senall was a half minute back. Bull City's strategy was working well, with Mabe leading the bunch 13 seconds ahead of the other three all within a few seconds of each other.
Club Northwest's Camille Shiflett (R) leading Impala Racing's Nancy Thomas in the Masters Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]

Still, at this stage they were only a little ahead of Atlanta and a little behind GVH; Club Northwest was over 10 points ahead at this stage! Over the next 2 kilometers, not much changed. But subtle changes can be important. Webster moved up from 5th to 4th for GVH, helping their cause. That was necessary because the Bull City trio, still running within 5 seconds of each other, had moved up from 8th through 10th to 7th through 9th.
Bull City packing it up at the end of the first loop  in the Masters Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

Their lead runner, Mabe, was still tracking GVH's Tyler, a couple of seconds back. GVH was now in 2nd, 7 points back from Northwest and only 1 point ahead of Bull City. Over the wooded portion of the last loop, Webster was able to move away from Shiflett and claim 3rd but Mabe was able to tighten things back up by passing and moving away from GVH's Tyler. Club Northwest hung on for a 5 point victory, but GVH and Bull City were tied for second in points with 23! Would the tie-breaker rule settle the matter? Yes! Bull City's last scoring runner came in ahead of GVH's; that is the current tie-breaker rule in action.

Club Northwest 18     Bull City Track Club  23     Genesee Valley Harriers  23

[Note: Bill Quinlisk told me that in 2016 a motion was introduced at the USATF Annual Meeting to change the old tie-breaker rule of comparing each of the scoring finishers and giving the victory to the team with the more head-to-head wins. That works fine if you have 3 or 5 scoring runners; the problem was that in some of the Junior contests there are 4 scoring runners and they were having too many ties that were not broken by the rule. It was replaced by a rule that says ties shall be broken by giving the victory to the team whose last scoring runner finishes with the faster time. [When I heard this I suggested that they use the old, more intuitive rule first, and then only resort to the 'new' tie breaker rule in cases where the tie was unbroken by the old rule. Bill Q. told me that Bill Roe would love it if I introduced that as an amendment the next time they will consider rules changes, 2018 if my memory is right.]

Women 50+. The main contenders appeared to be the Athena TC, the Jane's Elite Racing, and the New Balance Tampa (NBT) Master's Team. Atlanta, Club Northwest, GVH and the So Cal TC would be duking it out for 4th through 7th. Athena would have the benefit of Marisa Sutera Strange up front, almost surely winning the 50's category. If Lorraine Jasper could be up with the main chase group and  Margaret Sloan not too far back; they might snatch a top spot. The Jane's finished 3rd last year but were looking to move up; they would rely on the 1-2 punch of Kathleen Cushing-Murray and Tania Fischer. In the past it would have been Fischer leading the way; she finished 6th overall at the 2013 edition of Club XC but has not matched that the last couple of years. And make no mistake, Cushing-Murray has been running very strong this year. Still they would need a good performance from their reliable teammate, Kelle Taylor if they were to compete for a top spot. NBT would need Trish Butlerup towards the front and Susan 'Lynn' Cooke not too far back. Their 3rd runner, Michelle Allen could well be the one to make the difference.

When the gun went off, the 1-2 of the Jane's made clear to all that they had come to take the gold or go down trying. At the 2K mark in the wooded portion, Cushing-Murray was in the lead with Fischer right on her heels and Athena's Strange 3 seconds back. NBT's Butler was right with Strange and then a gap back to a chase group of Cooke, Taylor and Jasper and then another gap back to Allen and Sloan running shoulder to shoulder. It was a great start for the Jane's and, unless something changed dramatically, NBT and Athena were in a very tight struggle for the Team Silver.
Athena's Marisa Sutera Strange (#1002) leading the Jane's Kathleen Cushing-Murray at the end of the 1st loop in the Women's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]


Over the next 2K, Strange pulled even and then pulled away to a 7 second lead over Cushing-Murray. Fischer was hanging tough 8 seconds back from Cushing-Murray and now with a 6 second cushion over Butler. Cooke was 40 seconds back in 5th but Taylor was tucked in right behind with Jasper struggling a bit to maintain contact 6 seconds back. Twenty seconds back from them, Allen now had 5 seconds on Sloan. The Jane's were looking good for the Gold but it couldn't get much tighter between NBT and Athena for the Silver.

NBT's Michelle Allen (#1068) battling Athena's Margaret Sloan (on her right shoulder) at the end of the 1st loop in the Women's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

It looked like NBT might take the Silver when Butler was able to surge and overtake Fisher but right after that it turned out that Taylor was also able to surge and move away from Cooke; those two changes offset. Everyone else held their position in a very competitive race. The Jane's had a 7 point victory but, despite everyone's best effort, the Athena TC and the NBT were locked in a tie at 22 points each. Another terrific competition--again the tie breaker was consulted and NBT got the Silver Medal and Athena the Bronze. There were tight races off the podium as well with Club Northwest (Kristen Mossman, Susan Ward, Gail Hall) and GVH (Kathleen Hayden, Carol Bischoff, Maureen Bischoff) tied at 46 and So Cal TC (Katherine Wolski, Gail Allen, Debbie Lee) two points back in 6th.

Jane's Elite Racing  15     New Balance Tampa Masters  22     Athena Track Club  22

Women 60+. The Atlanta TC, GVH, and the defending champion Impala Racing Team went head-to-head for the Women's 60+ team Gold. Atlanta looked pretty strong with Mary Richards and Cynthia Lucking up front and not too far back the dynamic duo of Margaret Taylor and Cynthia Williams. If they had Nancy Stewart for this race, then they would have been very tough to beat; as is they are definitely in the hunt. GVH would, in most years, have been considered a shoo-in for the podium. But they have been hampered by injuries all year and were making their first appearance as a team at a 2016 national championship. Still Sharon Moore, Jeanne Herrick and Cindy Ingalls would give it their best shot! If Impala has its full complement of Mo Bartley, Jill Miller-Robinett, and Jo Anne Rowland, they are tough to beat, but Rowland was bypassing the meet to recover from the California International Marathon. Bartley would run well up front no doubt and Miller-Robinett would be a strong #2, but how far back would it be to their 3rd runner, Ruth Rainero? Dianne Anderson, Impala's insurance runner, hoped they would not have to use her in the scoring but was ready as needed.

By midway through the first loop, Bartley was off to a big lead-no surprise there. Richards and Miller-Robinett were running side by side 50 seconds back, with Lucking, Moore and Rainero a few seconds back. Then it was a 15 second gap back to Taylor and Williams, with over a minute back to Herrick and then another minute to Ingalls. Clearly Herrick and Ingalls were not going to factor in the race and so GVH would not either. They were, no doubt, happy to be running as a team again! 2017 will, no doubt, be a happier year for this GVH team.

Rainero was running strongly enough that Impala would have no problem unless something changed. Atlanta's A Team should certainly get the Silver Medal. Bartley ran strong all the way for the win; Miller-Robinett shook free of Richards to gain a point. Rainero was not able to hang with Lucking, who ran very well over the 2nd half of the race.
Atlanta's Elizabeth Unislawski, Nonie Hudnall, and Susan Jones [L to R] working together to claim the Team BronzeMedal  for Atlanta's 'B' Team  in the Women's 60+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

Nonetheless, she was not far back so that Impala got the win with 6 points to spare. Atlanta's A team won 2nd and their B team, consisting of Terry Ozell, Nonie Hudnall, Elizabeth Unislawski, and Susan Jones was able to take 3rd ahead of GVH.


Impala Racing Team 8     Atlanta Track Club 'A' 14     Atlanta Track Club 'B' 30

Men 40+. Oregon's Bowerman TC, the defending champions, looked like the team to beat again this year. Greg Mitchell should lead the way and he had the usual supporting cast of strong runners, the Baumann boys, Ahrlin and Oscar, Matthew Farley, Joshua Gordon and John Howell. The San Francisco Bay Area's West Valley TC, who took 2nd last year were back for another try for gold. Led by Neville Davey, who should certainly be in the top 5 overall, they would need to pack up tight to move up. With support from the likes of Konrad Knutsen, Thomas McGlynn, Mark McManus, and Todd Rose, it was certainly  possible. The Boston Athletic Association beefed up their team a bit, hoping to move up from their 3rd spot last year. Mike Galoob did not run with them last year but from results this fall it appeared that he and Peter Hammer could lead the BAA to the top spot if Ryan McCalmon, Keven O'Neill, and Aaron Price could stay close. Without Alan Black and Chad Newton, two of their top 40's runners from earlier years, the Atlanta TC knew it would take a massive effort to make the podium. Still, the crew of Kristian Blaich, Tommy Carroll, George Darden, Eric Stabb, and Aaron Totten-Lancaster would give it all they had. Cal Coast TC, without Christian Cushing-Murray and Jerome Vermeulen would be similarly challenged even with John Gardiner, their ace, competing at the front of the field.
The Masters 10K Race is on at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

The gun went off, the line of runners broke and Kevin Castille surged to the front, with Greg Mitchell, John Gardiner, and Neville Davey giving chase a few strides back. Castille was of no concern to the teams as he ran unattached but they watched Bowerman's Mitchell, Cal Coast's Gardiner and West Valley's Davey with keen interest. As they neared the 2K mark, the interest focused primarily on Mitchell and Davey as the blue singlets of the Cal Coast crew were not evident in the main chase pack 10 seconds behind Mitchell and Davey.

The 4 other Bowerman runners, the 4 other West Valley runners, and all 5 of the BAA were there along with 4 of the 5 Atlanta runners. Try as he might, Carroll would not be able to keep pace with that pack today. When they hit the 4K mark before entering the wooded portion for the 2nd time, Mitchel had 7 seconds on Davey and Totten-Lancaster had broken free from the main pack, in no-man's land 6 seconds ahead of the chase pack and 8 seconds behind Davey.
First Chase Pack Midway through the Masters 10K race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

The Bowerman bunch was still together in the first chase pack but only Galoob and Hammer of the BAA were there as 3 others, McCalmon, O'Neill, and Price, had fallen back to form a 2nd chase pack along with McManus of West Valley, and Atlanta's Blaich, Darden and Stabb.

By the 6K mark it was clear that, brring unanticipated difficulties, Mitchell would take the team 1st for Bowerman but now Atlanta's Totten-Lancaster had closed to within 3 seconds of Davey. Perhaps Atlanta would get a top 5 finisher after all. But Bowerman was looking very strong for the win with Mitchell leading and four others in the first chase pack, Ahrlin Baumann, Matthew Farley, Joshua Gordon, and John Howell.

The BAA's McCalmon, O'Neill and Price were now the 2nd chase pack by themselves as they had a gap of 5 seconds back to the Atlanta trio, Blaich, Darden and Stabb. Over the last 4K, Mitchell puled away further from Davey, with Bowerman's Howell moving past Totten-Lancaster who fell back and was eventually caught by the first chase pack. That Chase pack consisted of the 4 Bowerman runners, Galoob and Hammer of the BAA, and West Valley's Knutsen, McGlynn and Rose; it held together through 8000 meters and then up into the open track leading down to the finish where it broke up with a final sprint to the line.
Main Chase Pack late in the Race anticipating the final sprint to the finish in the Masters 10K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]
 Howell, Galoob, and Rose passed Totten-Lancaster in the end to take team 4th, 5th and 6th but the Atlanta runner held on to repel the rest of the pack and get 7th for his team.
The B.A.A.'s Mike Galoob (1243) and Peter Hammer (1244) battling three Bowerman TC (red singlets) rivals, inter alia, in the  Men's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]


McCalmon found an extra gear on that last loop, regained his spot in the chase pack and kicked in past his teammate, Hammer as they came in 8th and 9th for the BAA. They needed more BAA yellow singlets to come in but instead the nest two were both West Valley, McGlynn and Knutsen, the first team to score 4 runners. They had hope for a matter of seconds as the Bowerman crew of Gordon, Ahrlin Baumann, and Farley zoomed across the line within ten seconds of each other in 12th, 14th and 16th, broken up only by the BAA's 4th runner, Price, in 15th. That capped the scoring 5 for Bowerman and gave them the victory. O'Neill finished next, the 5th runner fo rthe BAA, giving them 2nd place 8 points behind Bowerman. West Valley would have to wait some time for their 5th runner as all 5 Atlanta scoring runners came in ahead of him, including Carroll. But it was not enough, McManus toughed it out and brought West Valley their 5th scorer and third place  only 3 points behind the BAA and nearly 40 ahead of Atlanta. After Atlanta it was 65 points or more back to the Bull City TC, Cal Coast TC, Central Mass Striders, and the Baltimore-Washington TC.

Bowerman exulted in their third straight victory after finishing 2nd to Atlanta in 2013 running up and down the side of a cinder cone at the River Bend Golf Course in Bend OR. Although they were not able to catch Bowerman, the BAA had the satisfaction of moving up from 3rd to 1st and must now be plotting how to get the rest of the way next year in Lexington KY. The last time Club XC was in Lexington, it was Atlanta's turn to exult in victory; they will certainly try to regain that glory. And west Valley is clearly well in the hunt; a few seconds here, a few seconds there and 3rd could have been 2nd or even 1st.

Bowerman Track Club 47     Boston Athletic Association 55     West Valley Track Club 58

Men 50+. The main contenders in this division turned out to be an entirely different set of teams. The Greater Springfield Harriers, of Massachusetts,  had a terrific team, led by top age-grader, Nat Larson, who always finds himself on the M50 podium even though he is about to graduate to the M55 group. With Francis Burdett, Alejandro Heuck, Mark Hixson, Kent Lemme,  and Ron Lombardi backing him up, they can withstand an off day if they need to. Cal Coast had their trusty leader back in Pete Magill, for the first time in over a year, but many of the others were just plain banged up from a long year of racing and might not be able to give Magill enough support to defend their 2015 title. But the Arsenault brothers, Rob and Dan, along with Frederick Herr and Thomas Schumann would give it everything they had. The third contender was the 2014 Champion, Club Northwest. This time they would follow the lead of Carl Combs instead of Joe Sheeran. Combs would get ample support from Sean Messiter, John O'Hearn, Michael Smith, and David White-spin but their team would certainly have benefited had a fit Sheeran been running with them. Playmakers Elite/New Balance out of Lansing MI claimed the bronze medal in 2014 but fell back to 4th last year; they could make a run for the podium again but would be hampered by the absence of Dave Bussard, typically one of their top 2 runners. Kerry Barnett, Michael Hammond, Ruben Henderson, J.D. Pepper, and Eric Stuber would have to be at their best to crack the top 3!

Three Springfield runners, Hixson, Larson and Lemme, and Cal Coast's Magill sprinted to the front when the gun went off. By the 2K mark these 4 leaders had ten seconds on a 3-runner chase pack of Magill's teammates, R. Arsenal and Herr, and Northwest's Combs. Then a 14 second gap back to a chase group of Springfield's Burdett, the other 5 Northwest runners and the top 3 Playmakers, Barnett, Stuber, and Henderson. With 3 runners in the top 4 and 4 in the top 16, Springfield certainly was feeling good at this point. But it was early days yet.
Cal Coast's Pete Magill (headband) and Greater Springfield's Nat Larson matching stride for stride at the front of the Men's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

The 4-runner lead group held tight through the 4K mark but the 1st chase group had broken up, with Combs 15 seconds back, Herr 20 and R. Arsenault 24. Playmakers Stuber and Northwest's Michael Smith had left what was now the main chase group ten seconds behind but couldn't close the 20 seconds up to Arsenault. The main chase pack now consisted of the 4 other Northwest runners, Messiter, O'Hearn, White-spin and Logan, as well as Henderson of Playmakers, Burdett of Springfield and Cal Coast's Schumann. At the 6K mark it was Magill with Larson and Hixson tucked in right behind and Lemme, perhaps showing the first signs of struggling, 2 seconds back. Then the same 5 runners were strung out, Combs alone 20 seconds back, but with a 17 second lead on Asenault and Herr who were at least able to work together. Then it was 14 seconds back to Barnett and another 13 to Stuber, too much space for them to work together at all. Smith was 16 seconds behind them and still ten ahead of the main chasers.
Club Northwest packing it up behind Greater Springfield's Francis Burdette in the Men's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

Springfield's Lombardi and Heuck had moved up to the main chase pack at the same time Burdett was showing signs that this would not be a good day as he had slipped a few seconds back. Three Northwest runners were still there as well as Schumann and Henderson. No team would catch Springfield today--too many 'horses' running strong. Cal Coast would be okay if Magill stayed up top, Arsenault and Herr stayed clear of the chase pack and D. Arsenault wasn't too far back as their 5th runner. Northwest's hope rested on their strong pack in the chase group. But either Smith or one of the chase group guys would have to surge to close the gap to Arsenault and Herr.

Over the final 4K Larson and Hixson were able to stay with Magill and actually kicked away from him to finish 1-2 in the team standings, with Magill a few seconds back in 3rd. Lemme struggled a bit late after staying on the blistering pace for much of the race; Combs was able to catch and pass him on the 4th loop, coming home in 4th. If some of the other Northwest runners could also move up, they might take the 2nd spot from Cal Coast. R. Arsenault and Herr hung tough together, finishing in 6th and 7th to give Cal Coast 3 guys in with 16 points.
Cal Coast's Frederick 'Rick' Herr (L) and Rob Arsenault helping their team to the Silver Medal in the Men's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

The Playmaker's top runner, Barnett, almost caught that duo finishing in 8th one second back. As Stuber finished in 11th, Playmakers might have a hope for 3rd. The next two runners in were Springfield's Lombardi and Heuck, closing out the scoring for Springfield and giving them the win. If more Playmakers could come in this might yet be their day for a podium finish. But the next two in were Smith and Messiter of Northwest, in 15th and 16th, followed by Cal Coast's Schumann in 17th. Northwest's O'Hearn came in next and then Playmaker's Henderson. Cal Coast had 4 runners in with 33 points, looking pretty good for 2nd, as long as Rob's brother Dan finished in the next minute or so, as seemed likely. White-spin came across the line 24 seconds after Henderson, giving Northwest their 5th finisher.
Playmaker's Elite's Ruben Henderson (#1367) and Cal Coast's Thomas Schumann (#1283) kicking to the finsh line to get their team on the podium in the Men's 50+ race at the USATF National Club XC Championships
[Photo: Michael Scott]

With only 78 points for Northwest, no matter how hard Pepper and Hammond ran, Playmakers could not catch them out of the podium. And when Dan Arsenault closed out Cal Coast's scoring with a 31st place, that gave them the Silver Medal with 14 points to spare, but Northwest had made them sweat a little extra.
The Genesee Valley Harriers, Boerman Track Club, and Adidas Garden State finished 5th, 6th and 7th.

Springfield ran very tough and showed that in 2016 they were the class of the 50+ contest. Cal Coast hung tough to take 2nd and Norhtwest's pack held tight to give them 3rd place. The Playmakers will have to regroup and see if they can't get back to the podium in Lexington KY next year.

Greater Springfield Harriers 35     Cal Coast Track Club 64     Club Northwest 78

Men 60+. With Mark Rybinski returned mostly to form after an injury that sidelined him for much of the spring and summer, GVH, should contend for the win. Their #2 runner, Gary Radford  has been running consistently strong this autumn, but a question remained as to whether their 3rd runner, Bill Beyerbach, could finish high enough to give them a good score. The Tamalpa  team out of the San Francisco Bay area would be strong up front with Brian Pilcher leading the way and his trail running teammate, Mark Richtman, likelty to finish in the top 7, maybe top 5. Like GVH there were some questions about their 3rd runner, Keith Duncan. Duncan had bested Beyerbach last year at Club XC but Beyerbach ran well at the Masters 5 km a month earlier so it was surely not a done deal. Cal Coast lacked a front runner in this race but had their usual tight pack of John Holcomb, Keith Witthauer, and Tomas Rodriguez to rely on. But they had only 3 runners so no room for error. Both GVH and Tamalpa had 4th and 5th runners in case anyone faltered. The Boulder Road Runners had 2 strong runners in Dan Spale and Doug Bell but were without their other speedsters, Heath Hibbard, Kyle Hubbart, and Devin Croft. And, of course, some of the guys running ere nicked up. George Braun, Jan Frisby, and Bruce Kirschner would give it everything they had but it still might not get them to the podium. There was also a subplot involving Boulder. They were knotted up with Cal Coast in the Club Grand Prix race; whichever team would beat the other today would win the 2016 M60+ Grand Prix. Shore AC had also hoped to contend for a podium spot as the heart issue that had been worrying their top runner, Reno Stirrat, seemed to be under control. But Stirrat had caught a bug at the USATF Annual Meeting in Orlando the week before Club Cross, couldn't shake it, still tried to run but had to give it up after the first 2K. Greater Lowell had John Barbour up front but lacked the support in strong 2nd and 3rd runners to stay close and contend for the podium.

Pilcher and Barbour went to the front when the gun went off as expected and stayed there. Tamalpa would get the top finish it needed most likely. At the 2K mark, there was a chase pack that looked interesting about 20 seconds back from the 2 leaders. It consisted of GVH's Radford and Rybinski, Tamalpa's Richtman, Holcomb and Witthauer of Cal Coast, Spale and Bell of Boulder and Brian Cummins of the Syracuse TC, which might prove to be a surprise contender. It would be interesting to see if Radford and Rybinski could hang with and work off of Richtman. Ten seconds back from them was a 2nd Chase group of Tamalpa's Duncan, Cal Coast's Rodriguez and Syracuse's Foster. A podium spot could hang on how those 3 sorted themselves out over the next 6K. It was clear that Kirschner was having an off day and that Boulder would be unable to make top 3.

By the 4K mark, Pilcher and Barbour were a half minute ahead of Spale who had separated and left the chase pack 8-10 seconds behind. The duel between Radford, Rybinski and Richtman continued  as those 3 matched stride for stride with Bell. There was still a 2nd chase group 8-10 seconds back but it had waned to just 2-Holcomb and Cummins. Witthauer was 16 seconds back, 4 seconds ahead of Beyerbach, with Foster and Rodriguez challenging each other 14 seconds further back.
Cal Coast's Keith Witthauer (1535) battling GVH's Bill Beyerbach (1550) and Bull City's Kevin Nickodem (1539) in the Masters 8K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]


Things were looking good for GVH; Radford and Rybinski were right with Richtman and Beyerbach was well ahead of Duncan. Cal Coast might have hoped their 3-pack was tighter but there was still only 35 seconds between their 1st and 3rd runners; they might make the podium yet.
Tamalpa's Keith Duncan and Robert Donaire working together in the Masters 8K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]

The only major change over the next 2K was that Bell fell away form the 1st chase group and was caught by the 2nd set of chasers, now just Cummins and Holcomb. Pilcher got the team #1 for Tamalpa, Barbour the #2 and Spale the #3 spot.
Tamalpa's Brian Pilcher pulled away from Greater Lowell's John Barbour to Claim the 1st Place to help his team in their struggle with GVH for the Team Victory at the Masters 8K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]

But, as noted earlier, Boulder and Lowell were out of the hunt for the podium. Would Richtman be able to get away from the two GVH runners? Nope--they hung with him and in the end were able to kck away with Rybinski taking 4th and Radford 5th to Richtman's 6th. That gave Tamalpa a 7 to 9 lead with 2 of the 3 scoring runners in.
Ann Arbor's Wally Hayes battles one of his GVH Rivals in the Masters 8K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]

Now it was pretty much up to the contest between Beyerbach and Duncan as no Cal Coast runners were in yet. Beyerbach held onto his edge over Duncan, reversing their finishing order from 2015 and giving GVH the outright. Beyerbach's 11th gave them 20 points to the 22 Tamalpa totaled with Duncan's 15th place. Holcomb, Witthauer and Rodriguez finished 9th, 10th and 13th, a little over a minute apart, for the Bronze Medal. Syracuse was 11 points back in 4th with Boulder 2 points extra in 5th. Shore AC and Greater Lowell took 6th and 7th.

It was somewhat surprising but a great win for GVH, with Radford and Rybinski winning their duel with Tamalpa's Richtman, and Beyerbach fighting off Duncan. But Tamalpa certainly acquitted themselves well, going back to Northern California with Team Silver-not bad! And Cal Coast took Team Bronze and, in the process, won the Club Grand Prix title. No doubt they were happy with that haul.

Genesee Valley Harriers 20     Tamalpa Runners 22     Cal Coast Track Club 32

Men's 70+. The defending champion Tamalpa Runners brought a strong team from San Francisco. Len Goldman and Don Porteous would almost surely be both in the top 5, perhaps top 3. The only hope for other contenders were that their 3rd runner, Gene French, might be a ways back from them and give another team a chance to fill in between. The Florida Track Club West were led by Ronald Wells, who had been running 5K's in the low 20's and would likely finish in the top 3. Their 2nd runner, Ron Enos, was usually tough if not banged up too badly. But there would be a bigger gap between Enos and Wells than between Goldman and Porteous who had finished only 7 seconds apart last year and had run a tight contest a few weeks before this race. And like Tamalpa there might bbe a big gap from Enos to their 3rd runner, James Callaway. GVH would be relying on Jim May, who finished 3rd at the 5K Championships in Syracuse to get a top 3 spot here as well, or at least top 5. If he could do that, most likely their other two runners, Jim Glinsky and Patrick Dwyer would likely run close together and fast enough, maybe, for a podium finish. The Ann Arbor Track Club was coming in with some question marks but it seemed that a podium finish was at least possible. Doug Goodhue, the Silver Bullet, had come back from injury and taken the first place position at the Master 5 km XC a month earlier. If he could finish in the top bunch that would give Ann Arbor a great start. I, Paul Carlin, was the question mark. After being out most of the spring and summer with hamstring and adductor issues, I had run an okay race at Syracuse, finishing 6th. But then I suffered another setback after that and missed training as a result. I felt I could run okay but certainly no better than I had at Syracuse. But we were lacking David Cohen who is a very steady performer. Phillip Kroll, 75, who prefers longer distances, would be the 3rd runner. Malcolm Cohen, still seeing a Physical Therapist, would be the insurance runner in case any of the first 3 couldn't finish--not as unexpected as usual given the injuries to our top 2 runners this  year.Still if Goodhue got top 3 and I could get top 6, we might just edge onto the podium. The Atlanta TC would also contend; they do not have a top performer but have 4 steady runners who can be relied upon to finish very well and close enough to each other that their exact finishing order varies from one race to the next, Charlie Patterson, Curtis Walker,  Frank White, and Morris Williams. 

Ronald Wells  surged to a ten second lead by the 2K mark with the Tamalpa twosome, Goldman and Porteous, and GVH's May in hot pursuit. Then it was 11 seconds back to Ann Arbor's Goodhue in 5th. Even though 5th is pretty good, that was a bad sign for Ann Arbor; Goodhue would at least be with the chase pack if he were on his game. Tamalpa's Gene French came next in 6th, a great showing that boded well for his team. French's 20 second margin over Enos meant it was unlikely Florida TC West could match Tamalpa even with Wells up front.
Tamalpa's Don Porteous leads GVH's Jim May, partially obscured by his teammate, Doc Rappole [1562]

Tamalpa had 3 runners ahead of Florida West's 2nd runner. Next were Glinsky and Dwyer, running together in 8th and 9th, giving GVH a good shot at the podium. Then came Atlanta's four runners from 10th to 15th, broken up by Carlin in 10th and Callaway in 12th. Callaway had to move up past Glinsky and Dwyer if Florida TC West wanted a chance at Silver. And I would have to move up if Ann Arbor would have any chance at all. In the 2nd 2K, May fell 6 seconds back back from Goldman and Porteous. Goodhue was still in 5th but instead of being 8 seconds out of 4th he was now half a minute out of 4th and instead of having a 16 second gap on French in 6th, it was down to only 6 seconds, ominous signs. On the plus side for Ann Arbor, I had moved up past Atlanta's Walker, and GVH's Glinsky and Dwyer.
Patrick Dwyer (1555) tracking his GVH Teammate, Jim Glinsky while I (Paul Carlin), running for Ann Arbor, show up in the far left of the picture, gaining ground at the Masters 8K Race at the USATF National Club XC Championships [Photo: Michael Scott]
Over the final 4K, Tamalpa cemented their lead , finishing with Porteous in 2nd, Goldman in 3rd and French in 5th for a dominant 5 point win over Florida West. Florida West got its Silver Medal, thanks in part to Callaway moving up even with GVH's Dwyer in the 3rd 2K and pulling away over the last 2K. Glinsky and Dwyer held strong relative to Atlanta, however, allowing only Walker to get past. Glinsky and Dwyer finished in 10th and 11th to cap their scoring and nail down the Bronze medal position, with a 10 point margin. Goodhue had ot drop out in the 3rd loop and that left Ann Arbor well back in 5th, 10 points behind Atlanta 's 4th place finishing total.

It was a great repeat victory for Tamalpa and more than justified the trip from San Francisco. Florida West was no doubt delighted to have a Silver Medal finish. GVH's 3rd place finish was hard earned and certainly brought a lot of satisfaction. Atlanta and Ann Arbor were left to ponder how they could move up next year. Atlanta will be better if Ron Mastin comes back from injury. If both Goodhue and I are fully healthy next year, Ann Arbor will certainly be a factor. If Monte Piliawsky comes back too, Ann Arbor will be a force.

Tamalpa Runners 10     Florida Track Club West 15     Genesee Valley Harriers 25

*******************************************
That concludes the recap of the team contests. Now for my special contests.



SPECIAL FEATURES

These are my unofficial tabulations for 'mythical' awards that are not currently offered by USATF.


Overall Team Age-Grading Winners 
(in the USATF National Club XC Championship) 

(Rules—Top 3 runners, for each complete scoring team, across age groups, in age-grading tables, score by place not %; all declared runners can displace. I combine the Men's 8K and 10K for this purpose only)—Only runners on complete teams counted. Lower scores are better.

MEN
1. Greater Springfield Harriers  21    Nat Larson 2      Mark Hixson 7       Sandu Rebencuic  12
2. Cal Coast TC  41  Pete Magill  1   John Gardiner 17  Rob Arsenault 23
3. Bowerman TC  61 Matthew Farley 13    Greg Mitchell 18    John Howell 30

B.A.A. 67 [P Hammer, K O'Neill, M Galoob];  Playmakers 75 [K Barnett, E Stuber, R Henderson]; Club Northwest 76 [C Combs, M Smith, J O'Hearn]

 
WOMEN

1. Athena Track Club 25.5 Marisa Sutera Strange 1   Margaret Sloan 11.5   Lorraine Jasper 13
2. New Balance Tampa  26  Trish Butler  2     Lynn Cooke 4    Michelle Allen 20
3. The Jane's Elite Racing 30 Kathleen Cushing-Murray 5   Tania Fischer 10   Kelle Taylor 15

Atlanta TC 40.5 [S Friend-Uhl, P Combs, C Lucking]; Impala Racing 42 [M Bartley, N Thomas, J Miller-Robinett]
*****************************

OVERALL WINNER GRAND PRIX (for the Masters Grand Prix Circuit)
Recall that those who finish in the top 5 overall positions in the race earn points--10-6-4-2-1. At Club Cross there are separate races for those under 60 and 60 and over. With all due respect to the winners of the 8K, the Overall Winner will be determined from the 10K men's race.

Before the USATF National Club XC Championship in Tallahassee, FL, the standings were:

MEN
John Gardiner 32 Kevin Castille 20 Greg Mitchell 22 Jacques Sallberg 14 Mark Andrews 12  Jon Noland 10 David Angell 8 Kristian Blaich 6 Christian Cushing-Murray 6 Neville Davey 6  Peter Hammer 6 Jerome Vermeulen 6 Danny Goodman 4 John Howell 4 Rob McConnell 4 Greg Putnam 4 Oscar BaumannJason Butler 2 Andy Gardiner 2 Craig Greenslit 2 Okwaro Raura 2 Lee Shaw 2 Aaron Totten-Lancaster 2 Steve Bell 1 Andrew Duncan 1 James Jackson 1 Brantley Lutz 1 Craig Nieset 1 Rusty Snow 1
 
WOMEN
Marisa Sutera Strange 24 Sonja Friend-Uhl 20 Melissa Gacek 14 Grace Padilla 11 Julie Ertel 10 Rachel Jaten 10  Janet McDevitt 10 Tammy Nowik 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Fiona Bayly 6 Hilary Corno Nathalie Higley 6 Mariam Ngo 6 Sascha Scott 6 Nicole Hagobian Melody Fairchild 4 Renee Tolan 4 Sonya WilkersonKatherine Wolski 4 Jennifer Anderson 2 Trish Butler 2 Cate Fenster 2 Lisa Lucas 2 Mariam Ngo 2 Terri Rejimbal 2 Lisa Veneziano 2 Alice Kassens 1 Serena Kessler 1 Desa Mandarino 1 Holly Ortlund 1 Christy Peterson 1 Ingrid Walters 1

After the Final Event of 2016, the USATF National Club XC Championship in Tallahassee, FL, the standings were:

MEN
John Gardiner 36 Kevin Castille 30 Greg Mitchell 28 Jacques Sallberg 14 Mark Andrews 12  Jon Noland 10 David Angell 8 Neville Davey 8 Kristian Blaich 6 Christian Cushing-Murray Peter Hammer 6 Jerome Vermeulen 6 Danny Goodman 4 John Howell 4 Rob McConnell 4 Greg Putnam 4 Oscar BaumannJason Butler 2 Andy Gardiner 2 Craig Greenslit 2 Okwaro Raura 2 Lee Shaw 2 Aaron Totten-Lancaster 2 Steve Bell 1 Andrew Duncan 1 James Jackson 1 Brantley Lutz 1 Christopher Mutai 1 Craig Nieset 1 Rusty Snow 1





Congratulations to the 2016 Podium of the Overall Winners of Masters National Championship Races

1.  John Gardiner Cal Coast Track Club
2. Kevin Castille
3. Gregory Mitchell  Bowerman Track Club 
John Gardiner heading for the Finish Line at the Masters Club Cross Country Championships where he secured the final points he needed to win the (unofficial) 2016 Masters Overall Grand Prix
[Photo: Michael Scott]


WOMEN
 
Sonja Friend-Uhl 30 Marisa Sutera Strange 26  Janet McDevitt 16 Melissa Gacek 14  Grace Padilla 11 Julie Ertel 10 Rachel Jaten 10  Tammy Nowik 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Fiona Bayly 6 Hilary Corno Nathalie Higley 6 Mariam Ngo 6 Sascha Scott 6 Nicole Hagobian Melody Fairchild 4 Renee Tolan 4 Sonya WilkersonHeather Webster 4 Katherine Wolski 4 Jennifer Anderson 2 Trish Butler 2 Cate Fenster 2 Lisa Lucas 2 Mariam Ngo 2 Terri Rejimbal 2 Lisa Veneziano 2 Alice Kassens 1 Serena Kessler 1 Desa Mandarino 1 Holly Ortlund 1 Christy Peterson 1 Camille Shiflett 1 Ingrid Walters 1

Congratulations to the 2016 Podium of the Overall Winners of Masters National Championship Races

1.  Sonja Friend-Uhl Atlanta Track Club
2. Marisa Sutera Strange Athena Track Club
3. Janet McDevitt  Club Northwest 

Sonja Friend-Uhl on her way to the win at the Masters Club Cross Country Championships and the points she needed to win the (unofficial) 2016 Masters Overall Grand Prix [Photo: Clay Shaw]


AGE-GRADING Individual GRAND PRIX (for the Masters Grand Prix Circuit)

Recall that those who finish in the top 5 overall age-grading positions in the race earn points--10-6-4-2-1

Before the USATF National Club XC Championship in Tallahassee FL, the standings were:

MEN. 
Brian Pilcher 30 Nat Larson 22  Rick Becker 20 Tom Bernhard 16 Kevin Castille 16 Christian Cushing-Murray 10  Tom McCormack 10 Jerome Vermeulen 10 Carl CombsKristian Blaich 6 Fred Zalokar 6 Craig Greenslit 4 William Moore 4 Jacques Sallberg 4 John Gardiner 3 Kevin Broady 2 Peter Hammer 2 Eric Stabb 2 Eric Williams 2 Doug Bell 1 Pete Gibson 1 Ruben Henderson 1 Greg Mitchell 1 Mark Reeder 1 Rusty Snow 1  

WOMEN. 

Marisa Sutera Strange 34 Edie Stevenson 33  Jo Anne Rowland 24  Libby James 16 Kathryn Martin 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Trish Butler 6 Suzanne Morris 6 Lisa Veneziano 6 Susan 'Lynn' Cooke 4 Jan Holmquist 4 Lorraine Jasper 4  Rachel Jaten 4 Kelly Kruell 4 Nancy Stewart 3 Fiona Bayly 2 Louise Davis 2 Honor Fetherston 2 Sonja Friend-Uhl 2 Lisa Lucas 2 Grace Padilla 2 Christine Vincent 2 Mary Alico 1 Nathalie Higley 1 Jill Miller-Robinett 1  Kelle Taylor 1 Sonya Wilkerson 1 Katherine Wolski 1
  
After the Final Event of 2016, the USATF National Club XC Championship in Tallahassee FL, the standings were:

MEN. 
Brian Pilcher 30 Nat Larson 28  Rick Becker 20 Kevin Castille 20 Tom Bernhard 16  Christian Cushing-Murray 10  Peter Magill 10 Tom McCormack 10 Jerome Vermeulen 10 Carl CombsKristian Blaich 6 Fred Zalokar 6 Craig Greenslit 4 Peter Hammer 4 William Moore 4 Jacques Sallberg 4 John Gardiner 3 Kevin Broady 2  Eric Stabb 2 Eric Williams 2 John Barbour 1 Doug Bell 1 Pete Gibson 1 Ruben Henderson 1 Greg Mitchell 1 Mark Reeder 1 Rusty Snow 1  

Congratulations to the 2016 Podium of the Age-Grading Winners of Masters National Championship Races

1. Brian Pilcher Tamalpa Runners
2. Nat Larson  Greater Springfield Harriers
3. Rick Becker  Club Northwest      Kevin Castille 
Brian Pilcher off to a great start as he secured the win at the Masters Club Cross Country Championships and the final points  to win the (unofficial) 2016 Masters Age-Grading Grand Prix
[Photo: Michael Scott]


WOMEN. 

Marisa Sutera Strange 38 Edie Stevenson 33  Jo Anne Rowland 24  Libby James 16 Kathryn Martin 16 Sabra Harvey 10  Cindy Abrami 6 Trish Butler 8 Suzanne Morris 6 Lisa Veneziano 6 Susan 'Lynn' Cooke 4 Jan Holmquist 4 Lorraine Jasper 4  Rachel Jaten 4 Kelly Kruell 4 Nancy Stewart 3 Fiona Bayly 2 Louise Davis 2 Honor Fetherston 2 Sonja Friend-Uhl 2 Lisa Lucas 2 Grace Padilla 2 Christine Vincent 2 Mary Alico 1 Nathalie Higley 1 Liisa Miller 1 Jill Miller-Robinett 1  Kelle Taylor 1 Sonya Wilkerson 1 Katherine Wolski 1

Congratulations to the 2016 Podium of the Age-Grading Winners of Masters National Championship Races

1. Marisa Sutera Strange Athena Track Club
2. Edie Stevenson Revolution Running

3. Jo Anne Rowland  Impala Racing
Marisa Sutera Strange heading for the Finish Line at the Masters Club Cross Country Championships where she secured the final points he needed to win the (unofficial) 2016 Masters Age-Grading Grand Prix
[Photo: Michael Scott]
 

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