December 8 2017. Teams are tougher to scope out because they are a collection of individuals. But here are my thoughts on teams this year.
40+. Sonja Friend-Uhl and Janet McDevitt renew the rivalry in 40+ that saw Friend-Uhl finish first and McDevitt second last year, as their teams finished 4th and first respectively. Club Northwest, led by McDevitt, are the defending champions in the 40+ competition, and the favorites this year. Club Northwest returns the same team this year, consisting of a strong 1-2 punch and a solid 3rd place runner. But none of them can have an off day. Bull City Track Club finished 2nd last year with a solid trio of runners finishing 6th, 8th and 9th. They have added Brennan Liming who, with an 18:00 5K and a 30:42 8K, gives them a new #1 who might be able to move up a place or two and that might be enough. Like Club Northwest, they need every runner to score well. Friend-Uhl’s Atlanta Track Club should be in the mix as well. They have added Irma Betancourt who is running 5k’s in the 18 to low 19 range and that should give them another solid runner to back up Friend-Uhl. Impala also has looked to raise their game. Nancy Thomas finished 6th overll last year and they have added Caroline Bucci and Kelly Couch. Both appear to be just a bit faster than Alexandra Newman who was their 2nd runner last year and this year is more likely to be providing insurance. Both Atlanta and Impala have a 4th insurance runner.
Club Northwest Atlanta Track Club Impala Racing
50+ The Jane’s Elite team from Southern Cal looks primed to repeat in the 50+ group with Club Northwest trying to upset their apple cart. With Kirsten Leetch joining Tania Fischer and Kathleen Cushing-Murray, they have a very strong top 3.
60+ The Impala Racing team will have their hands full trying to repel Team Red Lizard who took the60+ team title at the USATF XC Championship in Bend. Impala is without Mo Bartley who gives them an extra runner toward the front of the pack. Rowland will have to have a good day to make up some of that loss. All three of the Team Red Lizard need to have on days as they have only 3 runners on their team. Impala has more depth if needed. Atlanta and GVH could also make a good push for the podium. Mary Richards, Margaret Taylor, and Cynthia Williams give them a solid three and Nonie Hudnall gives them a 4th runner who is not far off from the first three. If they run as a good pack, they could certainly edge Impala for 2nd. GVH will not be far off either although they still may not crack the podium.
40+ Last year it was Greg Mitchell, John Gardiner, and Neville Davey finishing in that order as Mitchell led the Bowerman Track Club to the team victory with the Boston Athletic Association and Davey’s West Valley Track Club in 2nd and 3rd. Mitchell is coming back from a spring injury and at the Pacific Association, it was John Howell leading the way with Mitchell not far back. That is not necessarily bad as Howell appears to be running stronger than in the past, giving them a solid 1-2 in whichever order they finish. Neville Davey’s West Valley Track Club will definitely push them though. Davey has recently run a smoking fast 14:44 5K and is the Pacific Association XC Champion. With the addition of Marathoner and Ultra specialist, Jorge Maravilla, Davey may go for the individual win and the West Valley team look to upset the dominance of Bowerman and the B.A.A. Last year it was Bowerman-the Boston Athletic Association and West Valley 1-2-3. Bowerman is still very strong and deep as is the B.A.A., and it is hard to see that changing much.
Bowerman Track Club Boston Athletic Association West ValleyTrack Club
50+ The Greater Springfield Harriers took the 50+ race by stor last year and they are just as strong this year. Cal Coast’s 50+ team is improved by the addition of Christian Cushing-Murray but weakened by the loss of Pete Magill so they will be pressed to make up much ground. The same is true for Club Northwest who will miss Mike Smith. Playmakers Elite have Dave Bussard returning but will miss Kerry Barnett. So even if Ruben Henderson’s return from a several month absence due to injury is successful, it will be tough for them to move up onto the podium. Prado Racingout of San Diego did not contest Club XC last year but are here in force this year; they will certainly make a push for the podium.
Greater Springfield Harriers Cal Coast Track Club Prado Racing
60+ The top two teams from last year were GVH and Tamalpa. But Gary Radford is out for GVH and Mark Rybinski is probably not at the top of their game so they will be pressed to repeat. Tamalpa, who finished 2nd is not back this year. Club Northwest, with Joe Sheeran and Rick Becker 1-2, should take the title in a cakewalk. Steve Bertrand, Greg Beyerlein and Frederick Motteler are all solid runners who can provide a reasonable third finisher for them. With the return of Reno Stirrat along with Kevin Dollard and Scott Linnell who have both run strong this year, Shore AC could make a play for the podium. Matthew Curran will give John Barbour good support at Greater Lowell but they may not get a strong enough third finish to crack the podium. Atlanta shuld be in the mix for the podium. Ken Youngers provides a strong, up front presence with Kirk Larson just off that pace. This year Jerry Learned has run almost like the Learned of old and has kept the gap from Larson to learned small. And now Mike Anderson has turned 60 and has recovered from his misadventures at the Boston Marathon.
Club Northwest Atlanta Track Club Shore AC
70+ Last year the Tamalpa Runners took the team title and there is no reason to think it shoud change this year. They bring the same three strong runners, Don Porteous, Len Goldman, and Gene French. Of course, like all three-runner teams everyone has to have an on day. Two teams will give them a run for their money. The Boulder Road Runners have a new 70+ team. With Richard Kutzner and Jan Frisby up front, that gives them 2 of the three they need. But they have to have a third team member finish right with them to have a chance as Porteous and Goldman should both come in before Boulder’s first runner. Dave Dooley could be the man to do it. GVH will also try to take down Tamalpa. Tony Gingello could, potentially, run with Porteous and Goldman. If he can do that, it is the start they need. If Jim May were healthy, that would give them a solid 2nd runner right behind Gingello. But May has been banged up off and on ever since a cross country skiing misadventure before the 10K championship at Dedham. That leaves Atlanta Track Club’s Team A which will make a push for the podium with their collection of solid runners.
Tamalpa Runners Boulder Road Runners Genesee Valley Harriers