Thursday, February 28, 2019

USATF Masters Team Update From Tallahassee

February 19 2019. The Club Grand Prix swung from Spokane Washington to Tallahassee Florida on the 2nd of February and the Mercury soared from sub-freezing to comfortably above. Tallahassee enjoyed more seasonable temperatures after an unusually cold morning last year. Given the Polar Vortex that swept through much of the Midwest and Northeast a few days before the race, you can bet that plenty of runners were looking forward to milder temps for the weekend. Mid-50's, cloudy skies, gentle breezes--that's about as good as it gets! Had the rain stayed away completely Friday evening the spikes vs. flats debates would have been almost irrelevant. That slight dampening of the course moved a few runners who were on the edge to opt for spikes over either spikeless XC shoes or racing flats. No one told me they were unhappy with their choices. Let's get to the races! The Men's race went off at 9:15 AM with the Women's race at 10:15. The recap follows that order.

Note: Classic Cross Country scoring for Men40+ and Men 50+ races. First 5 runners are scored. We add up their finishing places and the lowest score wins. Runners beyond 5 are counted to displace anyone they finish in front of who is in the top 5  another team. Pushing another team's score higher improves the relative chances of one's own team. For Men 60+ and above and for Women's races, only the top 3 are scored but otherwise rules are the same. The tie-breaker, if needed, is to compare the finishing time of the last scoring runner on the tied teams. The team with the faster time for that runner is declared the 'winner' between those two teams.

MEN
John Gardiner 235 and Jacques Sallberg knit cap in the lime green singlets hustle to form the lead pack at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships, with  runners, David Angell 108 and Paul Jones 191, not competing in the team championship

40+. Last year the Garden State Track Club, after a modest showing at Club Cross Country in Lexington, came loaded and got their first win of the year, setting themselves up for a successful run at the title of 2018 Club Grand Prix National Champions. This year they were absent. Are they focused on other goals this year? Or was it just not a good weekend for them? We will find out in months to come. In the meantime, the rest of the 2018 Club GP Podium, the Atlanta Track Cluband the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH), were present, looking for a good start on the 2019 Club Grand Prix contest. Out of teams that, based on historical patterns, are likely to compete for the Grand Prix title, the Cal Coast Track Club emerged from Spokane with the lead at 55 to 40 for Atlanta and 35 for Garden State. GVH, as has been their practice in this division, did not send a team to Club XC. It looks like Cal Coast will go for the 40+ win this year. They threw everything into the effort in Tallahassee. The 'Old Guys', Rob Arsenault, Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray, and Mike Connors, all jumped in with the 40-49 guys to field a formidable 40+ team. With Jacques Sallberg,  a new addition this year, and John Gardiner running point, they looked unbeatable. But Atlanta and GVH had strong squads too so nothing is guaranteed. The early part of the race unfolded as anticipated, except that Atlanta's Brent Fields fired a shot across everyone's bows, as he surged to join the leaders over the first kilometer before gradually dropping back a few strides.
This photo 300 meters into the race shows many who contributed to the competitiveness of the 40+ team race including: Atlanta's Brian Sydow 467 Cal Coast's Shannon Winkelman 502 and Rob Arsenault 113, GVH's Christopher Hernandez 270 Tim Rieth 410, and Thomas Regan 404 at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

By the time they hit the 'Shell Bridge back in the  forested section at 2 kilometers. Sallberg and Gardiner were running 1-2 for Cal Coast, with Cushing-Murray in 4th (in team places where we count only runners on complete teams). Fields was 5 seconds ahead of Cushing-Murray in 3rd and his teammate, Brian Sydow was 2 seconds back in 5th. Ten seconds back was the GVH trio, Christopher Hernandez, Tim Rieth, and Josh Harter in 6th through 8th, with Cal Coast's Shannon Winkelman and Arsenault in 9th and 10th, with GVH's Thomas Regan right on his heels, and his GVH teammate, Brian Lazzaro, only a few seconds back. Connors was running in 13th place, displacing, at the time, Atlanta's 3rd through 5th runners, Thomas Aliff, John Westrick, and Mark Castleberry, in 14th through 16th. Unless something changed drastically, Cal Coast would have the win and 100 GP points. At that point, their score was 27 compared to 44 for GVH and 53 for Atlanta. It was early days and the Atlanta runners may have started conservatively. But it looked like GVH would be earning at least a 2nd place plaque and the 90 GP points that go with it. Regan slipped past Arsenault into 10th but nothing else changed over the rest of the first loop.
The end of the first loop saw Christian Cushing-Murray 182 holding onto 3rd place, with rivals, Brent Fields 217 right behind and his teammate, Brian Sydow 467 in 4th. Nat Larson 321 was not in this team race. A long loop and a short loop more would settle the Men's 40 and up Team Championship at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships.

The second loop was more of the same as Cal Coast cemented its hold on 1st with Sallberg and Gardiner well ahead of the field in 1st and 2nd and Cushing-Murray in 3rd with 10 seconds on Sydow and Fields of Atlanta in 4th and 5th. Hernandez, Harter and Rieth were now strung out a bit but still held 6th through 8th, followed by Cal Coast's Winkelman, with GVH's Regan now only two seconds back. Arsenault and the three Atlanta guys continued apace, except that Westrick had now surged past GVH's 5th runner, Lazzaro. Call Coast had increased its lead by a point. Atlanta had narrowed GVH's lead slightly.  Atlanta had to hope that either Sydow or Fields could make a move on the final loop and get past Cushing-Murray, or that their 3rd through 5th runners kept moving up through the GVH guys and Arsenault.
Sydow and Fields ran strong over the first half of the short last loop but Cushing-Murray, with the ageless Nat Larson pressing him all the way, was cruising and building his lead. Arsenault had moved further ahead of Atlanta's Westrick so that path for improvement was closed down. Aliff joined Westrick ahead of Lazzaro; that moved Atlanta up but they needed more and now there was only a kilometer left! Everyone who needed to, held onto their place. At the end when places were toted up it was Cal Coast winning soundly by 23 points, with GVH retaining a 5 point lead on Atlanta for 2nd. The associated Grand prix points, building on those from Spokane, give Cal Coast the lead over Atlanta, Bowerman, the B.A.A. and GVH 155-120-100-90-90.
Cal Coast TC 27     GVH 47     Atlanta TC 52

50+ Last year the Greater Springfield Harriers (GSH) dominated this division, with Cal Coast, Atlanta and GVH finishing 2nd through 4th. A mix of injuries and other priorities kept GSH from entering a complete team this year. As noted above, the Cal Coast 50 and up guys ran to strengthen the 40+ team so Atlanta and GVH had the division to themselves. The quality of the competition made up for the small number. The gun sounded and GVH's Mike Nier showed that he had returned to form after battling a hamstring injury last fall When they passed the 2.2 Km mark at the 'Shell Bridge' in the forested part of the loop, Nier was in first with his teammate, Dale Flanders, and Peter Kotchen of Atlanta running neck and neck 7 seconds back. Six seconds further back Atlanta's Greg Oshust and Gary Droze were running in tandem seven seconds ahead of GVH's 3rd runner, David Bischoff. After Bischoff, it was a river of red as Atlanta's Ben Bailey, Jeff Haushalter, Lester Dragstedt, and John Kissane, flowed past ahead of GVH's 4th and 5th runners, Dennis Kinney and John Van Kerkhove. Those two would have to move up for GVH to have a shot at the victory. Nothing changed over the rest of the first loop.
Mike Nier pouring it on at the end of the first loop, in first place in the Men's 50+ race at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

During the second loop, GVH's Bischoff moved past Atlanta's Oshust but there were no other changes. At that point things were looking good for Atlanta, with just 2 kilometers to go. This was one of those races that did not feature a lot of position changes.
Atlanta's 50+ pack in the trenches, getting the job done: Jeff Haushalter 262, Ben Bailey 114, and Lester Dragstedt--at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

With everyone giving all they had to the effort, holding position was the feature of this race's competition. In the end, Atlanta had a little more than GVH, earning a 3 point victory. Nier and Flanders took 1-2 for GVH and Bischoff held onto 5th all the way to the line. That gave them 8 points from their first three runners to 13 for Atlanta, with Kotchen, Droze and Oshust taking 3rd, 4th and 6th. But Haushalter, Dragstedt, Bailey and Kissane held onto 7th through 10th and that made the difference. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane, allow GVH to take the early Club Grand Prix lead over Atlanta, the Greater Springfield Harriers, Bowerman and Club Northwest 145-100-100-90-80.
Atlanta TC 28     GVH 31

60+
Last year Atlanta won with a strong 1-2-7 finish by their aces, Ken Youngers, Mike Anderson, and Phil Richey. Shore AC, Boulder Road Runners, Cal Coast, Ann Arbor TC, and GVH followed in that order. More recently, at Club XC, among the teams entered here, Atlanta took the honors again, followed closely by Boulder, Cal Coast and GVH. Could Atlanta make it a hat trick? Anderson had some hip issues coming in and might not be at his best. The training of Boulder stalwart, Doug Bell, had been going well; we learned just before the Championship that his back had acted up and he could not run. As always, others have to step up and fill the gaps. Ann Arbor did not have a team here, but the other five  lined up with two new challengers, the Kansas City Smoke and the Speedsters Florida. When the gun sounded, the two rivals, Sayre and Youngers went to the front, and were 1-2 when they hit the 'Shell Bridge' near the 2 Km mark. It was almost a half minute before the 60+ chase pack hurtled past. The pack consisted of GVH's Tim Riccardi, Shore's Reno Stirrat, Atlanta's Phil Richey, Boulder's Dan Spale, and, a few strides back, perhaps running a little cautiously at the start,  Richey's teammate, Anderson. Atlanta was the only team with three runners in the Chase Pack or better; things were looking positive. Of course, things could change over the next 5.8 Km. It was ten seconds back to GVH's Kevin Clinefelter, in 8th, closely followed by Cal Coast's Brian Nelson and John Holcomb. Boulder's 3rd runner at this point was Mike Fronsoe in 13th, followed 3 spots back by teammate Chuck Smead. GVH's 3rd runner at this point was Tim McMullen in 20th followed two spots later by his teammate, Mark Rybinski. Stirrat's running mates on Shore, Kevin Dollard and Scott Linnell, were in 12th and 17th. Cal Coast's 3rd runner, Keith Witthauer, still on the comeback trail after a bout with cancer was in 24th place. 'Coach' Bill Sumner stepping down from 70+ for extra insurance, was next. The Smoke did not have a runner in the top bunch but had a reasonably tight pack with Stan McCormack in 11th, Robert Harber in 14th and John Blaser in 15th. The Speedsters had Andreas Boehm, 19th, followed by Jerry Orange 21st and Jeffrey Wingenroth 26th. Had the scores been tallied at that point it would have been Atlanta with a good margin over Boulder and the same for Boulder over the two teams, GVH and Shore, locked in a tight battle for third, only 2 points apart at this point. It was 7 points back to the Smoke and another 3 to Cal Coast. The Speedsters would need to move up to factor into the race for the podium. factor. A key question for Atlanta was whether Anderson could stay with the leaders. His teammate, Kirk Larson was running for insurance but was 10 spots further back.
The 60+ Chase Pack at the end of the first loop--GVH, Shore AC, Boulder Road Runners and Atlanta TC mixing it up [L to R- Tim Riccardi, Reno Stirrat, Dan Spale, and Phil Richey] at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

By the time they went past the Jumbo-tron at the end of the first loop, Anderson had let a small gap develop to the chase pack but it was only a few seconds, most likely nothing for Atlanta to worry about. The biggest change was that Boulder's Smead passed the Smoke's 2nd and 3rd runners to move into 14th. That helped Boulder keep GVH and Shore at bay but wasn't enough to move them any closer to Atlanta; they were still 8 points back. It did make it tougher for KC to catch GVH and Shore. The main update after two loops was that Anderson was holding onto 7th place.Smead had moved up one more place to solidify Boulder's hold on 2nd.
Shore AC's Kevin Dollard 192 Keeps Pace with 60+ Cal Coast runners, John Holcomb 272 and  Brian Nelson 371 [in the midst of 50+ and 40+ athletes] at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

Spale was now running ahead of the rest of the Chase Pack alongside Stirrat. Dollard had also passed Holcomb and Nelson, solidifying Shore's hold on 4th and moving them within a point of GVH. The last short loop did not change things much. Anderson not only held on, he moved up a spot as Atlanta claimed the win and the hat trick! With Spale nailing down 3rd and Smead holding onto 13th they made it to within 4 points of Atlanta but couldn't close them down. GVH and Shore tied 17 points back; the tie-breaker gave GVH the final podium spot. The KC Smoke edged Cal Coast by three points and the Florida Speedsters closed off the scoring. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane, allow Atlanta to claim the early lead over Boulder, GVH, Club NW, and Cal Coast 170-150-110-100-100.
Atlanta Track Club 13     Boulder Road Runners 17     GVH 34

70+ Last year GVH won a close contest with the Atlanta Track Club and Cal Coast Track Club, 16-18-20. More recently,  the Ann Arbor Track Club had a decisive win at Spokane, with Atlanta and the Genesee Valley Harriers well back. Two of Ann Arbor's team are focusing on other priorities right now, one on Indoor Track and the other on prominent Road Races, so no complete 70+ team was entered. In their absence, Atlanta's A team would battle with GVH for the win. GVH was without three of their stalwarts, Keith Yeates, Mike Reif, and Tony Gingello. GVH had an 11 point edge over Atlanta in Spokane but those three all made a difference in the final score. To be fair, Atlanta was also missing their #3 from Spokane, Curtis Walker, but Sam Benedict was only a minute and a half back. It would be a tall order for Patrick Dwyer, GVH's #3, to come in ahead of Benedict, who finished 3 minutes earlier than Dwyer in Spokane. A year ago, Atlanta's Dave Glass led the way in the team championship but he has been hampered by injury over the last several months. Jerry Learned has led the way for Atanta since aging up last August. When the gun sounded, Learned moved to the front of the field in the team competition.

GVH's Jim May and Doc Rappole tried to give chase but found themselves 26 and 34 seconds respectively back from Learned at the 2.2 Km mark. Fifteen seconds later, Glass came along for Atlanta, with his teammate, Benedict next, another 50 seconds back. Benedict was almost 40 seconds ahead of GVH's Dwyer. So at this first reading, it was Atlanta 'A' with 10 and GVH with 11. The only runners who were close to another were on the same team, so it would take a major surge or breakdown to change the outcome. But a single point does not require much change. In this case, though, everyone hung tough.
Jerry Learned, leading his Atlanta Track Club 70+ team to victory at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

Learned built his lead up to over a minute and despite their best efforts, May and Rappole could not dent it. Neither Glass nor Benedict faltered for Atlanta either and despite Dwyer's best efforts, he could not close on Benedict.
Doc Rappole 402 led his GVH 70 and up team to a 2nd place finish at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships [just ahead of Bruce Kirschner who ran for Boulder RR in the 60+ division] 

So the Atlanta 'A' team carried the day, with GVH in second place, two points back. Atlanta 'B' took 3rd place. Dave Peterson, who ran for Atlanta 'B' had a terrific race and came in 3rd, and Ed Bligh, Atlanta's #4 runner, was able to come in ahead of Dwyer and push GVH 1 point higher. Atlanta 'C' finished a single point back from the B team, in 4th, behind Mark Flynn's 6th place finish. Frank White and Gerald Miller finished 11th and 13th for the B team, while Morris Williams and Andrew Sherwood finished 10th and 12th for the C team. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane, allowed Atlanta A to take the early lead over GVH, Atlanta 'B', Ann Arbor, and Tamalpa 155-150-125-100-90.
Atlanta Track Club 13     Genesee Valley Harriers 15     Atlanta Track Club B 27

WOMEN
40+ Last year, Jennifer Bayliss, Suzanne Cordes, and Nancy Thomas, of the Impala Racing team, had this division to themselves. This year the Atlanta Track Club showed up to challenge for the Championship. Every team is a little different each time it steps to the starting line of a new race. Sometimes the racers are different and sometimes the racers are the same but their fitness level is different. Impala had only one change of personnel. Cordes stayed in California where she is prepping for upcoming bike races. But Alexandra Newman, who raced with them in Atlanta at the 5K Championships last year would be in her stead. Bayliss, who was at the top of her game last year when she claimed the overall Masters win, would be coming in with some questions about her current race fitness based on recent results. Normally Atlanta would be counting on Sonja Friend-Uhl to lead them around the turf at her favorite Cross Country course but her Indoor Track schedule sometimes interferes and this was one of those times. She was flying to Boston instead of Tallahassee. That left the leadership to Jill Braley, who finished 2nd at the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships in Buffalo behind Friend-Uhl last fall. Kathy Wiegand and Hiroko Guarnieri would join her in the chase. The gun sounded and Braley joined Bayliss and Thomas in the front, with Wiegand just a couple of strides back, as they raced past the Jumbo-tron 400 meters into the race.
At the front of the Women's 40+ Team race-L to R- Atlanta's Jill Braley and Kathy Wiegand red singlets and the Impala Racing's Nancy Thomas and Jennifer Bayliss blue singlets, along with Laura Bosley and Sarah Barber who were not entered in the team competition at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships [cropped by  author]

Once they entered Field #4 and passed the 1 Km mark, Braley started to push the pace and Bayliss  started to slip back. By the time they passed the 2.2 Km mark near the 'Shell Bridge' Braley had only a second on Thomas but Bayliss was 9 seconds back. Luckily for Impala, the next runner coming along was Alexandra Newman 20 seconds further back. And she had almost 20 seconds on Wiegand, Atlanta's #2 runner, and Guarneri, #3, just a few strides back of Wiegand. So Impala, with 2-3-4 had a 3 point lead on Atlanta with 1-5-6. If Bayliss ran into further trouble or if Wiegand and Guarnieri could work together to overtake Newman, it might be another story. But by the time they finished the first loop, there were no signs of trouble for Impala. Thomas had let a small gap develop between her and Braley but Thomas, Bayliss and Newman were still comfortably in front of Wiegand and Guarnieri.
Nancy Thomas leading her Impala Racing Team to victory in the Women's 40 and up race at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

Everyone was running hard so it was tough to move up. The last loop brought no significant changes as Braley claimed first for Atlanta but Thomas, Bayliss, and Newman cashed in 2nd through 4th to maintain the three point lead. Wiegand and Guarneri finished things off in style and helped Braley celebrate a 2nd place team finish in a National Championship. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane, allowed Impala Racing to take the early lead over the Jane's, Atlanta, the San Diego Track Club, and the Boise Betties and Billies 155-100-90-90-80.
Impala Racing Team 9     Atlanta Track Club 12

50+ Last year this was one of the most competitive races on the card. Marisa Sutera Strange led her Athena Track Club teammates, Doreen McCoubrie and Mary Swan to victory by a single point over New Balance Tampa Masters Racing (NBT). The Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH) finished third. Trish Butler, Michelle Allen, and Lynn Cooke came up just short. Butler had a partial knee replacement in August so would not be at her best. At first it looked like NBT had a replacement at the head of their pack, with Jody Hawkins, a former Overall winner of this race when it was in St. Louis. When she had to scratch, that made an upset win much harder. Of course it was not all roses for Athena either. Strange had a couple of hiccups last fall so some were wondering if she would be her usual dominant self or if her fitness was off. And last year they had their long distance ace, Doreen McCoubrie, running who finished within a minute of Strange. Lorraine Jasper interrupted her Indoor Track season to run for them. Jasper is a seasoned Cross Country runner who excels at the sport but there would likely be a little more distance between her and Strange. Their reliable #3 runner, Mary Swan, was back to help to cause. GVH and the Atlanta Track Club would also have a say in the outcome. Even if winning the team race was too much to expect, Carol Bischoff, Gail Geiger, and Colleen Magnussen for GVH and Atlanta's  Kris Huff, Mary Shah, Mireille Silva, and Robin Tanner would leave everything out on the course.
Athena's Marisa Sutera Strange 463 leads out the Women's 50+ Team Competition with New Balance Tampa Masters team members, Lynn Cooke 175 and Michelle Allen 106 in hot pursuit at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships [cropped by  author]


The gun sounded and Strange made it clear that she felt confident as she immediately joined the Overall leaders at the front. Allen and Cooke were only a few strides back as they crossed in front of the Jumbo-tron for the first time. There was a small gap back to Atlanta's Shah, followed closely by  Jasper and then Butler, Swan, Huff and Silva, Bischoff, Magnussen and the others all finding their pace. Strange did not slacken her pace; by the time they had reached the 'Shell Bridge' 2 kilometers into the race, Strange was still in the lead pack. Allen had settled in 25 seconds back with her teammate, Cooke, another 7 seconds back. Ten seconds later, Jasper crossed the mat with Shah on her heels, and a ten second gap back to Swan who had the same lead on Huff, with Butler a stride back, and Silva two seconds behind her. Butler was, no doubt, finding the knee a challenge. Tough runner that she is, no one doubted she would give it all she had. All of those gaps except the ones between Cooke and Jasper, and between Shah and Swan, expanded over the rest of that first loop. Silva passed Tampa's Butler and hoped to close on her Atlanta teammate, Huff, now 8 seconds ahead. After 2 miles of running, Athena had the lead on the course, 11 (1-4-6)  to 13 (2-3-8) and Atlanta at 21 (5-7-9) had a big lead over GVH at 34! As they raced around field #4, Strange started her long kick, pulling away from the rest of the lead pack and her 50+ team rivals as well. Everyone else hung tough.
Lorraine Jasper pushing to try to close the gap up to Lynn Cooke of New Balance Tampa Masters at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

Cooke could not shake Jasper completely but Jasper could not gain on Cooke. Butler, despite her best efforts, could not make up any ground on Swan. With everyone holding onto their position over the second and last loop, the honors went to Athena, with Atlanta claiming the final podium spot and GVH in 4th. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane,  allowed Atlanta to take the early lead over GVH, Athena, The Jane's, and New Balance Tampa Masters 130-110-100-100-90.
Athena Track Club 11     New Balance Tampa Masters 13     Atlanta Track Club 21

60+ Last year the Genesee Valley Harriers won a tight contest with the Atlanta Track Club and the Syracuse Chargers. GVH won with 13 points and Syracuse and Atlanta tied with 16, Syracuse awarded 2nd place on the tie-breaker. Two of those three were back in GVH and Atlanta, but they faced a new, formidable opponent, Team Red Lizard out of Oregon, the 2018 Masters Club Grand Prix winners. Sharon Moore would lead GVH again and had her teammate, Nancy Munson back. Darlene Saeva would be replacing Cheryl Guth. The two Cindy's, Williams and Lucking, would be back to lead the Atlanta squad, with Margaret Taylor and Kathleen Allen replacing Elizabeth Unislawski and Terry Ozell. Suzanne Ray, usually the #1 runner for Red Lizard was not in Tallahassee but they had their #2 and #3 runners, Betsy Miller and Jeanette Groesz, along with Joanna Harper and a new recruit, tri-athlete, Sharon Gerl.  When the gun sounded, Atlanta and GVH headed to the front, with Williams of Atlanta and Saeva of GVH leading the way, followed
Cindy Williams [R] leads out the Atlanta Women's 60+ squad with Sharon Moore, a few steps back, doing the same for the Genesee Valley Harriers at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

closely by GVH's Moore and Atlanta's Taylor. GVH's  Munson came next, with Atlanta's Lucking by her side. Then came the Red Lizards in a bunch, Groesz, followed by Harper, Miller and Gerl in tight formation.
Team Red Lizard started out as a tight pack L to R Sharon Gerl 237, Betsy Miller 351, Joanna Harper white cap, and Jeanette Groesz leading, with their rivals, Atlanta's Cindy Lucking to Groesz's left, and GVH's Nancy Munson 367 at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

Atlanta's Allen came next. By the time they reached the 'Shell Bridge', runners had found their early pace and things looked a bit different. Williams was still leading, but now Groesz and Miller, running in tandem, were just 3 seconds back, followed by GVH's Moore 4 seconds further back. Moore was 4 seconds ahead of the 3rd and 4th Red Lizards, Harper and Gerl. It was six seconds back to GVH's Saeva, 4 more seconds to Lucking and another 8 to Taylor, followed by Munson, and Allen. Things seemed to be shaping up well for Red Lizard, but GVH and Atlanta were battling over 2nd and 3rd! At this point it was Red Lizard (2-3-5) 10, GVH (4-5-10) 19, and Atlanta (1-8-9) 18! Between the Shell Bridge and the Jumbotron at the end of the first loop, Miller took the lead, with her teammate Groesz 5 seconds back and Williams, 8 seconds back, trying to maintain contact. GVH's Moore was 7 seconds behind Williams, with fifteen seconds to the Red Lizard team's Harper and Gerl. Lucking had passed Saeva and was now just 6 seconds back from the Red Lizard tandem. Team Red Lizard was now more solidly in first and Atlanta had maintained its lead over GVH. When they hit the '1 kilometer to go' mark, Miller had 1st pretty well locked up but Williams was now within 3 seconds of Groesz; the battle for 2nd and 3rd was on! Moore was 22 seconds back, seemingly secure in 4th. Moore did not realize it, but the Red Lizard's tri-athlete, Gerl had cut her lead from 17 seconds to 10. Would her long acceleration,  carry her up to Moore before the finish?   Gerl no had 17 seconds over Lucking, and Harper, only 4 seconds back from Lucking, was within striking distance. Harper had ten seconds on Saeva, followed by Atlanta's Taylor and GVH's Munson. The Red Lizards were winning by a solid margin and Atlanta maintained a 4 point lead over GVH, 18-22. The final kilometer saw Miller claim first with a solid margin but Williams rallied past Groesz to take 2nd place. Groesz had not been able to old off Williams but had a good 24 seconds on the 4th place finisher, Moore. Moore had finished almost as strong as Gerl, conceding only two seconds in the final kilometer. Gerl finished off the Red Lizard scoring with 5th place for 9 team points total. Lucking held off Saeva by ten seconds and Taylor did the same with respect to Munson. That gave Atlanta 17 points and the second place finish followed by GVH in 3rd. The associated Grand Prix points, building on those from Spokane,  allowed Team Red Lizard to take the early lead over Atlanta, Impala Racing, GVH, and San Diego 200-160-90-80-80.
Team Red Lizard 9     Atlanta Track Club 17     GVH 21

70+ The Atlanta Track Club broke new ground by entering a 70+ women's team. The Three C's,  Carolyn Mather, Catherine Radle, and Carol Rhodes, finished in that order,
Carolyn Mather leads out the Atlanta Track Club's Women 70 and up team at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

enjoyed a solo win and passed the time by seeing how many of their younger rivals they could stay with. A perfect 1-2-3 means 6 points and the victory.
Catherine Radle 400 and Carol Rhodes 406 working together for the Atlanta Track Club's Women 70 and up team at the start of the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships

It also nets them 100 points toward the Club Grand Prix. They won the title last year and it looks like they will be tough to beat again this year.
Atlanta Track Club 6

The team races are the center of attention at Cross Country and the races were worthy of the attention! The next chance for team cross country competition is in San Diego in October for the 5 Km Masters XC, followed by the 2019 edition of Club XC, which is back in Bethlehem, PA, the site of the 2014 Championships. Meanwhile, the roads beckon! First up is the USATF Masters 8K Championships, in their third and final year in Virginia Beach, on March 16th. If you have been aching to run in this Championship over its flat and fast beachfront course, but thought you might wait till next year, do not delay. This is your last chance to run it as a Masters Championship race. See you there!

Photo Credits: Michael Scott

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