Friday, October 11, 2019

National 5 Km XC Championships on the Line in Mission Bay-Age Division Previews

October 11, 2019 By car and by plane, speedy Masters runners are converging on San Diego for a run in the sun! Not surprisingly, the weather forecast from last weekend is holding. Here's what we have to look forward to at the top of each age division.


40-44
WOMEN As noted in the Overall preview, Meriah Earle and Hilary Corno are picked for 1-2 Overall and that holds fo this division as well. They went 1-2 at Carlsbad with some very fast times, 16:57 and 17:29. Earle has the faster time there, but both can handle every distance up through the Marathon, with Corno clocking a 2:42 in Chicago last fall and Earle a 2:46 in Boston this past spring. Earle and her teammate went 6-7 in Spokane last December but Mueller will be doing well if she can crack the podium in San Diego against a loaded field. If she is successful that would give runners from San Diego clubs a podium sweep. Runners from a few miles, and a few more miles, north will try to break them up. Donna Mills-Honarvar, from southern California, has 18:30 or better speed at the 5K, and Kelly Couch, from the SF Bay area, took 5th at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY; she also has a 4th place Overall this year at the 10K and a 3rd place finish at the 5K Championships in Dedham and Atlanta respectively. Jill Braley from Atlanta, will try to bust up a West Coast parade. She was a minute behind Couch in Atlanta on the roads but she has done better on the turf. She took 2nd last year at the  Km Masters XC in Buffalo, and finished 2nd at the USATF Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee. Since I picked Couch for third Overall, consistency requires picking her for third in the Division. It should be quite the dust-up!
Meriah Earle     Hilary Corno     Kelly Couch
40's Runners at Club XC in Spokane [L to R front-Meriah Earle, Maggie Shearer, Kate Landau, with Grace Padilla tucked in behind Shearer Photo by Michael Scott

MEN I have Neville Davey and Adam Dailey picked for 1st and 3rd around Jacques Sallberg, who is in 45-49. Davey won Club XC in 2017 and finished 4th last December; no one who finished ahead of him in Spokane is entered. Dailey, who finished 4th earlier this year at Carlsbad in 15:35, and won the 4Mile XC Championships in Balboa Park this fall, is my favorite for 2nd place. Roosevelt Cook, if he could match his times from Spokane and Carlsbad when he was still 39, could upset those predictions. He sped to a 14:56 at Carlsbad and a 33:02 at Club XC, faster than all of the Masters runners, except José Maravilla, who won. But he finished a half minute behind Sallberg at the Mark Covert 8 Km XC this fall. He will, no doubt, have Davey and Dailey in his sights. Others who could challenge for the podium include the 2nd and 3rd place finishers at Balboa Park, Okwauro Raura and Jason Batterson.
John Gardiner lime green singlet running next to Neville Davey orange shoes with the field strung out behind at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY

45-49
MEN Jacques Sallberg and John Gardiner should be in the lead pack overall most of the way and should easily claim 1-2 in this division. Sallberg and Gardiner went 6th and 10th at Club XC. More recently, Sallberg took the Masters honors at the Mark Covert 8K XC in 25:33 and Gardiner just ran a 16:10 at the So Cal Association's 3 Mile XC Invitational at Central Park. They seem primed for top efforts. I would go with Mark Yuen who finished 6th in the Division at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington, but I can find no results for him since then. I worry that he is primarily running to bolster West Valley's team effort, but may not be fully fit. If Yuen is not at his best, Jayson Fultz, Oscar Lemus or José Rivera will no doubt find themselves on the division podium as they pursue team glory.

WOMEN Lorilynn Bloomer and Amy Halseth will be in the thick of the race for the Overall win. I give Bloomer the edge for her strong XC running this fall. They are two strong runners! We'll see if Bloomer's Oregon turf power can overcome the home field advantage of Halseth. After those two it looks like Celestine Arambulo, who has a 19:36 Carlsbad and a 1:24 San Diego HM to  her credit, could take 3rd. Alexandra Newman, the mainstay of the Impala team, will not make it easy though!
Lorilynn Bloomer     Amy Halseth     Celestine Arambulo

50-54
WOMEN Kara Parker and Tania Fischer should have quite the duel! I wrote that Parker could well be in the mix for the Overall podium, but I neglected to include Tania Fischer in that group. But when I look at Fischer's and Parker's recent outings, there seems no obvious reason to put Parker ahead of Fischer. Parker has perhaps the stronger outing of the two of them at 10K, with her 38:16 at the MDRA 10K in Minnesota, age-grade equivalent to an 18:28 5K. But her actual 19:20 5K is matched by Fischer's 19:11 at Carlsbad. Parker also has a 31:08 8K, age grade equivalent to a 19:01 5K. So I will go with Parker, but she has little margin for error. Just off the pace those two have set is Hronn Gudmundsdottir, who took the 10K national division title at Dedham in 38:49, and took 3rd in the division at the 5K Championships in Atlanta with a 19:29. She also took 2nd at the Garen Park 5 Km XC this fall in 21:39, about a minute behind her Impala teammate, Nancy Thomas, who is apparently not making the trip. Fischer finished 2nd in the division at the Club XC championships in Spokane so she knows the turf! I cannot find any recent XC outings for Parker but she did win a couple of 4.2 mile trail runs last fall in Minnesota. Oops, just saw that Katherine Wolski has thrown her hat in the ring as well. She took 2nd in Atlanta, 18 seconds ahead of Gudmundsdottir. Wolski does not run a lot of national XC races, but she did take 3rd in the division and 8th overall at the 2016 Club XC Championships in Tallahassee. She bested Fischer on that occasion but if memory serves correct, Fischer was a bit off her fitness at that time, so it is not definitive. Still I will put Wolski ahead of Fischer. This is a tough division to call. Would I be amazed if Fischer won? No way!
Kara Parker     Katherine Wolski     Tania Fischer    
The Main Field at Club XC in Spokane, including Tania Fischer 1058 and Beverly Anderson-Apps 921 and Liz Gottlieb 967  [Photo by Mike Scott]

MEN  It is hard to look beyond Christian Cushing-Murray in this division. He ran 16:08 to mount the division podium at Carlsbad earlier this  year. Just three years earlier he took the Overall title there in 15:11! Time marches on, even for sub-4 minute milers! He took 5th in the division at Club XC in Spokane and then came back to take the division win at Tallahassee in 27:57 on an 8K course. Can anyone rain on Cush's parade? Charles Mullane, Mike Nier and Robert Verhees will do their best; they will likely be the ones fighting it out for one of the two other podium positions. Like Cushing-Murray, their main focus is on the team! Mullane ran 36:15 to take 23rd in Spokane last December, and took the 50-54 division crown at the Garen Park 5K XC in 18:58 this fall. He has a 17:24 5K to his credit. Nier was just a tad slower at Spokane last year, with a 37:11 for 18th in M50, and took the 50-54 division win to the Pete Glavin 5K in New York this fall. He also has a division 5th at the 10K National Championship in 36:04, age-division equivalent to a 17:42 5K. Verhees has been one of the strong runners out of the San Diego area for a long time. He was only 45 seconds back from Cushing-Murray at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY, and was running his 5K's in the low 17 minute range. But then there was an interruption as he switched to Ultras, running events like the Miwok 100K and Speedgoat 50K. He did win the Carlsbad 4 Mile XC division title in 23:23. He dropped down in distance again this year to win the 50-54 title at that race in 25:19. Should any of those falter, Marc Sosnowski who finished 2nd to Verhees in the Balboa Park XC race would be well-placed to move up.

Christian Cushing-Murray     Robert Verhees     Charles Mullane
The Mian Field in the 60+ race heads down the first hill at Tallahassee at the 2018 XC National Championships Photo by Mike Scott

55-59 
MEN Kevin Zimmer would probably have been my pick for this race had I not seen two recent anomalous results for him. He finished 10th in M50 at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington in 35:20, less than a half minute behind Cushing-Murray. His 2018 outing at Carlsbad was 16:49. Earlier this year he ran 3:04 at Boston; that time, which would be excellent for many, is not quite up to Zimmer's usual standard. He ran 1:21:14 to take 3rd in M50 at the Masters National HM Championships in the O.C.  It leads me to suspect that he may have sustained an injury in training leading up to the race or during the race itself. In any case I can find no results for him since that time. Prado needs him so he is answering the call, but is he up to his norm? Others to watch out for include Gary Droze, who took 4th in the Division at the XC Nationals in Tallahassee this year in 30:37 [8K], and the same division place in Atlanta with a 17:55 5K. In 2017 Matt Ebiner ran 16:54 to finish 2nd at the 5K National Championships in Syracuse. He probably does not have that fitness right now, though. His most recent effort is a 1:23:49 at the Humana RnR Philadelphia Half marathon in mid-September. Of course he may also have been still feeling the effects of his M55 win at the Mt. Baldy Run to the Top in early September. I do not find a lot of results outside of Carlsbad for Bradley Peterson, but those show plenty of speed with consistent times over the last few years from high 16's to this year's 17:17, which was the fastest time in M55 by an American. If Richard Mayne's 35:49 in the 2018 San Gabriel Turkey Trot 10K is a better indicator of his speed than his 19:29 5K, then he could well be in the mix too.
Kevin Zimmer     Matt Ebiner     Bradley Peterson

WOMEN  Marisa Sutera Strange should have no trouble winning this division. I almost put her in the mix for the Overall win, and perhaps should have. She did win the Overall race at the USATF XC Nationals in Tallahassee, FL this year in 23:31 (6K). She slipped to 5th Overall at the National 5K (road) Championships in Atlanta, but her 18:38 took first in the division by well over two minutes! Laura Bruess should have a good shot at the podium. She has plenty of impressive performances on the national stage, taking 2nd at Club XC in San Francisco in 2015 with her 24:18! Two years later she took 5th at the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 20:17. At Carlsbad this spring she showed no signs of slowing, cranking out a 20:07 to take the Women's 55-59 title. Eileen Brennan-Erler may have the speed to stay close to Bruess; she ran a 20:46 at the Stow Lake 5K and a 21:04 at Morgan Hill. She finished 5th in the Division in Spokane with a 25:48. Sue Zihlman will also be in the hunt. Her 1:11:44 in the Surf City 10 Miler, along with 10K times in the mid 43 minute range suggest she has the endurance and speed to be a factor. Should any of those falter, Carol Keller and Nancy Wilkins-Diehr, who went 1-2 in Women's 55-59 at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC Championships, are positioned well to move up. Both run their 5k's in the mid 22 to mid-23 minute range. Keller showed much greater speed on the turf though, running 31:39 to Wilkins-Diehr's 33:52.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Laura Bruess     Eileen Brennan-Erler
Chase Pack in Women's race at 2016 Club XC in Tallahassee [L to R-Kathleen Cushing-Murray, Liisa Miller, Marisa Sutera Strange and Heather Webster

60-64
WOMEN Masters Hall of Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, has not slowed down. Last year she took 2nd place in the 55-59 division at both the 5K National Championships in Atlanta and at Club XC in Spokane, running 20:09 and 25:00 respectively. Once she turned 60, there has been no stopping her She took 1st in the division at both Carlsbad in 19:44 and at Freihofer's in 20:15. Mo Bartley, Debbie Lee, and Linda Powers should duke it out for the two other podium spots. Bartley took 6th in the division last December with a 28:04 and has run her recent 5K's in the mid-22 minute range. Lee has clocked similar times in the 5K at the Irvine Half Marathon and on the track at the 2018 National Masters Outdoor Championships. Powers does not have quite the speed those two have evidenced but is not far off. She has clocked 23:33 at Carlsbad, and finished a minute behind Bartley in 6th at Spokane.
Carmen Ayala-Troncoso     Mo Bartley     Debbie Lee

MEN Joe Sheeran won the 60 and up division at 2017 Club XC in Lexington KY and then again in Spokane WA this past December. There is no reason to anticipate a different outcome in San Diego. He should win the 60-64 division easily. Who will compete for the other two podium spots? Daniel King is a mystery. He ran 29:43 at the XC Nationals in Boulder CO in 2015, taking the M55 title. Later that year he took the title at Club XC in San Francisco, edging Sheeran for the 55-59 title by 4 seconds! As far as I can tell, King has not participated in a USATF National Championship since then, I find no record of any races for him on Athlinks. With no recent races it seems unlikely he would be ready to compete with Sheeran. But, if not, why is he coming? Of course, he could just be returning to compete and thought this would be a good entry point. Or he could just be coming for the Athletics Boulder team, but as of this writing they only have two runners entered including King. We shall see. If King does not exhibit the same fitness as in the past, then William Enicks should be next in line. He took 20th in M55 in Lexington KY with a 39:40 and has been running 5K's recently in the mid-18 minute range. Depending on King's fitness, Rick Bruess and Michael Lebold could be fighting for the last podium spot or simply having a duel for 4th. Either way it will be just as much fun! Bruess ran 41:02 at the FORTitude 10K and has run a few 5K's in the mid-19's. But those times are at altitude so he might well be a bit faster at sea level (and without much humidity). Lebold took the Division 1st place at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC in 6:21 and ran 25:17 at the Navy Bay Bridge 4 Miler, which is age-grade equivalent to a 19:32 5K. Should any of those have an off day, Thom Hunt finished 2nd to lebold in Balboa Park about a minute back. Sheldon Subith, who runs primarily on trails, could also factor in. Subith ran 34:04 in the 2017 USATF San Diego Championships, running just a half minute slower than John Holcomb.
Joe Sheeran     Daniel King     William Enicks
Joe Sheeran leads the field down the hill at the start of the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY

65-69
MEN Bob Deak, Kirk Larson, Robert Qualls, Joseph Reda, and Chuck Smead should be at the top of this division. Deak let me know that, although entered, other opportunities got in the way of him coming to San Diego to compete. Reda is the favorite; in August he won the division title at both the 5K and 1 Mile Championships. His 19:14 at Atlanta is the fastest 5K time of the entrants at San Diego. Reda also ran 19:16 at Carlsbad in the spring. It has been a good year for Reda! Nonetheless he does not have a huge margin of error. Qualls was only 12 seconds back at Atlanta. And Qualls could have his hands full with Larson and Smead on a Cross Cuntry course. Larson came in 16 seconds ahead of Qualls in Spokane last December, and Smead came in a half minute ahead of Larson at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee. Reda has the edge on the roads no doubt. Try as I might, I could find no XC results for him, although he has done some trail runs. That makes it  even closer! Looks like your classic barn-burner!
Joseph Reda     Chuck Smead     Kirk Larson

WOMEN Suzanne Ray should take the division title easily. She finished 2nd to Sabra Harvey at the 2017 Club XC Championships, running 27:46 on a 6K course. She also ran a 22:20 5K this past May. Her forte is actually the longer distances. She took the Division 15K title in 1:11:06 at Tulsa last year in the 15K Championships.  San Diego TC teammates, Mary Ryzner, Robin Paine, and Ernestina Martin should battle with Nancy Antos of the Boulder Road Runners for the remaining podium spots. Ryzner, Paine, and Martin came in 1-2-3 in the division at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC race in 35:01, 35:16 and 35:46. At Club XC in Spokane last year, Ryzner only beat Martin by 2 seconds. Ryzner ran 24:31 at Carlsbad and 32:30 at the Navy Bay Bridge 4 Miler. That is quite a bit faster than Antos's 1:02:53 in the FORTitude 10K, at least in age grade equivalencies.
Suzanne Ray     Mary Ryzner     Robin Paine
Jill Miller-Robinett 1076, Sharon Moore 1060 and Patricia Ford contesting for 60+ team glory at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY

70-74
WOMEN Sharon Gerl, Jeanette Groesz, and Jane Treleven look to be the favorites for the podium. Groesz has just aged up and won the 65-69 division at Club Cross last December. she also has strong outings at almost every distance, including a 48:38 10K at the Championship in Dedham where she took 3rd in 65-69. Her teammate, Gerl, is almost as fast. At the Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee, Gerl was a half minute back and in Dedham, she finished just 17 seconds back. When I first saw Treleven's time in the 5K at the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon, I was ready to install her as favorite. But then I learned that course has an 80 meter drop from start to finish; Treleven's other 5K's are fast, but not that fast. More representative is her 23:06 in the BAA 5K, also a fast race. That is age grade equivalent to a 49:09 10K, so Treleven is very close in fitness to Groesz and Gerl. It will be fascinating to see how their race turns out! If any of those front-runners have an off day, they had better watch out for Jo Anne Rowland and Christine Young; they will push them all the way.
Jeanette Groesz     Sharon Gerl     Jane Treleven 

MEN Terry McCluskey won the 70-74 division at Club XC last December. That should make him the favorite in this race. David Longmuir finished 4th behind McCluskey and will give it another try. He won the 70+ race in Lexington in 2017. Rick Katz finished 36 seconds back from McCluskey in Spokane but has been rehabbing an injury most of the year. He ran a 6:37at the Pearl Street Mile, suggesting that he had not recovered at that time. Of course this is two months later but it seems too much to think he could challenge at the front. Lloyd Hansen, who finished 3rd last December, is also out after having run really well earlier in the year. Ronald Wells was out of action last year due to a fluke non-running injury. He is back. He finished 2nd at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC in 31:09. That seems slower than his norm. It is a half minute slower than he ran last year and a minute and a half slower than he ran it in 2017. On the other hand he was less than a minute back from his teammate, Tony Marshall, who ran 20:02 at Carlsbad. That suggests Wells could be a factor. The other intriguing entry is the great middle distance runner, Nolan Shaheed. If he is just entering for conditioning, that is one thing, but if he is going all out, that could be another. Can his 11:34 3000 meter and 5:48 Mile times from Indoor track transfer to the XC turf? If so, he, too, could be a threat.
Terry McCluskey     Ronald Wells     David Longmuir

75-79
MEN Doug Goodhue is in the Masters Hall of Fame for a reason. The 'Silver Bullet' is tough to beat. Having just lost his first race since coming back from injury a year ago; he hates losing! Goodhue won Club XC last year by over 6 minutes. But he has sterner challenges in this race. Jan Frisby  edged Goodhue in the Flint Road Mile. Whether that edge can hold up in a longer run and on the XC turf will be tested this Saturday. But the strongest  challenge comes from a Triathlete turned road racer who just aged up into the 75-79 division, Tony Marshall. He ran 20:02 to finish 2nd to Hansen in 70-74 at Carlsbad this past spring. Goodhue took 1st in the division in Atlanta in 21:24. That course is much harder but it does not account for all of the 1:22 difference in times. Marshall does not seem to have much experience with the XC turf and that could work in Goodhue's favor. But triathletes tend to find that Cross Country suits them at least as much as road running does. Len Goldman just aged up from 70-74. His time in Spokane was only 50 seconds back from Goodhue. He will definitely be in the mix. This is a tough one. Frisby is a very tough runner when he is healthy and has shown his fitness can improve rapidly if he stays healthy. I am assuming he is ready to go. He could well finish 2nd. If Marshall runs as he has been it does not seem any of these three can catch him.
Tony Marshall     Doug Goodhue     Len Goldman 
Terry McCluskey goes for broke in the 70+ contest as he races withe 60's athletes from River City Rebels, Run-N-Fun and others-at the 2018 Club XC Championships in Spokane Photo by Mike Scott

WOMEN Irene Terronez ran 32:59 in the road 5K at the Senior Games. The best recent effort from Patricia Bentz is 41:57. That is ample reason to favor Terronez. The recent results I can find for Virginia Lopez are from Cross Country, taking her age division title at the Balboa Park 4 Mile in 1:09:29. Bentz's 41:57 5K is age-grade equivalent to a road 4 Mile in 55:30. Again, that seems enough of a difference to more than account for the slower cross country course.
Irene Terronez     Patricia Bentz     Virginia Lopez

80-84    
WOMEN By the same reasoning as above, I make Donna Gookin the favorite in this division due to her 5K's in the 41-44 minute range. I favor Martha Walker for 2nd on the basis of her age division win in Balboa Park in 1:09:29. I find no previous results for Henrieta Frankum and Elizabeth Johnstone. Hence I am ranking them as equal favorites for third place.

Donna Gookin     Martha Walker     [Henrietta Frankum-Elizabeth Johnstone] 

MEN Richard Williams took 1st place in the division at Club XC last December. He also has the fastest recent 5K time, a 31:20 in America's Finest City 5K. Ordinarily that would be enough to make him the favorite. But many time National Champion, John Elliott, is entered. He took the 5K Championship in Atlanta in 28:53, with a challenging course and warm conditions. He also took the 5 Km XC title in Buffalo last year in 30:20. Elliott is the favorite. It will be interesting to see if Williams can push him. Elmo Shropshire cannot be ignored either; he ran 32:05 to take the Road 5K title at the Senior Games.
John Elliott     Richard Williams     Elmo Shropshire

85-89 
MEN Edward Gookin and  Warren Osborn appear to be closely matched. Gookin has 5K times in the mid-42 to mid-43 range, as well as a 46:43 at Carlsbad most recently. Osborn, in contrast, has a 46:06 in winning the Balboa Park 4 Mile Cross Country race. If I take Gookin's most recent race, it does not stand up to running a faster time on a Cross Country course. I cannot find any results for the third entrant, Al Ray.
Warren Osborn     Edward Gookin     Al Ray

WOMEN Suzi Falco takes the title unopposed if she completes the race. 

TEAMS


The main focus in Cross Country is the Team Races. It is very difficult to scope out the team races because so much depends on the race within the race. Every position counts so it is not even close to say the faster team, on average, would necessarily win. So keep in mind that the team projections are even dicier than the individual ones, especially for the 5-runner teams, where there are more permutations. And, of course, these are not dual meets. All of the different runners for the different teams can affect the results by pushing back runners on other teams.

The Cal Coast Track Club could take titles in M40+, M50+, and M60+. 

They will have to defeat their strong rivals, the West Valley Track Club to take the 40+ crown. Cal Coast, with Jacques Sallberg and Roosevelt Coo added since last year appears formidable. It may be another story at Club XC time but this weekend, West Valley is not at full strength, lacking, among others, their Marathoner/XC king, José Maravilla. boomRunning, Garden State Track Club and Prado will have to slug it out for the final podium spot.

Led by Christian Cushing-Murray, Cal Coast appears to be a strong favorites in the 50+ race; they look to have too many strong runners for the others to keep pace, not that they won't try. The Genesee Valley Harriers have brought a strong team; Mike Nier will be up there among the leaders in the team race but without his partner in crime, Alan Evans, they are not deep enough with their speed to match up with Cal Coast.   

In 60+, Cal Coast will have to worry about Prado as their closest rival assuming all three of their team run well. Cal Coast is just a little faster through the first three than Prado. But it is pretty close. The next fastest team is likely to be the Kansas City Smoke. But their 3rd runner will have to run well and not allow too many ahead of him. Otherwise the San Diego Track Club could sneak past them to land on the podium.

The 70+ race should be a real dust up, possibly the most tightly contested team competition of the day. The Tamalpa Runners took the title at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships. The Ann Arbor Track Club wrested it from them last December. The San Diego Striders have beefed up their team and look to repel both Tamalpa from Northern California and Ann Arbor from the Great Lakes. The Genesee Valley Harriers also bring a strong team that cannot be ignored. It is too close to call and will depend on individual efforts up front and in the trenches. 

In the Women’s races, the San Diego Track Club had the better of the Impala Racing at Club Cross in Spokane. Impala brings a stronger team this year, but San Diego is still the favorite. Prado may actually be the biggest threat, led by Corno and Halseth. Upon closer examination, Prado should actually be considered the faster of those three teams, with San Diego TC 2nd and Impala 3rd. Team Rogue did not have their 3rd member when I wrote the initial analysis. Now that they do, I see them as not quite as strong as these other three teams.

"Impala appears to be as strong a favorite on the Women’s 50+ as Cal Coast is in the Men’s race." That is what I thought at first but again a late-forming team, the Southern Cal TC, is definitely a threat. Impala appears to be faster on average, but the differences are small. GVH and the San Diego Track Club appear to be slower but not much separates them so it should also be a tight race for the final podium spot.

 Team Red Lizard should dominate the 60+ race although the Impalas and the San Diego Track Club will make them earn a win. That view still looks good although any 3-runner team, like Team Red Lizard, needs all three to have good days.

The Impalas should have the edge over the San Diego Track Club in 70+, but San Diego is poised to take the 80+ contest unopposed.

It is actually a little closer in 70+ than the sentence above suggests. The Impalas should take the 1st two spots but they would need their #3 runner to defeat at least San Diego's #2 or #3 runner to be sure of the win.

 
 

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