Wednesday, June 29, 2022

USATF Masters National Grand Prix Standings-Spring Update-MEN

June 29, 2022 The first post on the MNGP Individual Standings through the spring featured the top contenders from the Women's Championships. Now I turn to the Men's Standings.

Winners in 2020-21 and in 2019 

2020-2021 Two Masters National Championships from before Covid [Club Cross-Lehigh, XC Nationals-San Diego] and two events from after Covid [12 Km-Highlands NJ, 5 Km XC-Boston] made up this Grand Prix, elongated over time but condensed in the number of events. The best 2 events were scored and the minimum requirement for eligibility was 2 events.

Men 40-44 Brock Butler 45-49 Jacques Sallberg 50-54 Craig Godwin 55-59 Nat Larson 60-64 Joe Sheeran 65-69 Ken Youngers 70-74 Jerry Learned 75-79 Dave Glass 80-84 Roland Cormier

2019 The 2019 Masters National Grand Prix included eight Masters National Championships: Three Cross Country Events, Club Cross-Spokane 2018, XC Nationals-Tallahassee, 5 Km XC-San Diego; and five Road events, 8 Km-Virginia Beach, 10 Km-Dedham MA, 5 Km-Atlanta GA, 1 Mile-Flint MI, and 15 Km-Tulsa OK. The best 5 events were scored and the minimum requirement for eligibility was 3 events.

Men 40-44 David Angell 45-49 Brian Sydow 50-54 Kent Lemme 55-59 Nat Larson 60-64 Ken Youngers 65-69 Joseph Reda 70-74 Lloyd Hansen 75-79 Doug Goodhue 80-84 John Elliott 85-89 Warren Osborn 90-94 Nathaniel Finestone

2022. The National [plus 1 International] Championship events counting are, in chronological order; 

Club Cross Country Tallahassee FL Dec 11 2021; Cross Country Nationals San Diego CA/Jan 8 2022; Masters 5 Km Atlanta GA Feb 26; Masters Half Marathon Syracuse NY Mar 20; Masters 10 Mile Sacramento CA Apr 3; Masters 10 Km Dedham MA Apr 24; Masters 1 Mile Rochester NY May 21; WMA Championships Cross Country, 10 Km, Or Half Marathon Tampere Finland June 30-July 10; Masters 12 Km Highlands NJ Sep 18; Masters 5 Km Cross Country Boulder CO Oct 22

Awards Ceremony: After the races at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San FranciscoCA on December 10, 2022.

Rules. The 2022 USATF Masters Individual Grand Prix consists of ten eventsAn athlete participating in an event can earn from 5 to 100 points in each event. First place in a given 5-year Age Division (40-44, 45-49, etc.) receives 100 points, 2nd place 95, third place 90, and so on down to 20th place receiving 5 points. All runners finishing the race behind the 20th place finisher also receive 5 points. The score at the end of the season is the cumulative total of the runner's best 5 events. Only athletes who participate in three or more events are eligible to win an award. Athletes with the top 3 scores in each division receive a 1st place, 2nd place or 3rd place plaque with their name on it. The fourth through 15th finishers in an age division, who are eligible, receive certificates. The World Masters Athletics Championships held in June and July contain a Cross Country event, a 10 Km Road and a Half Marathon Road Championships. Athletes who participate as part of Team USA may pick their best event of the three and accumulate points from that event like any other, compared only to other Team USA athletes. A Team USA athlete who is 2nd on the team but 6th in the event, scores 95 Grand Prix points for the event.

Current Standings and Prognosis for the Remainder of the Season

MEN 40-44 Jesse Davis Indianapolis has dominated the first portion of the Masters National Grand Prix, with first place finishes at Club Cross in Tallahassee, the Half Marathon in Syracuse and the 10 Km in Dedham. His teammate, Brian Lindsay, took 1st at Atlanta, with Davis a close 2nd. That gives Davis 395 points from his 4 events.  Will his Indianapolis Elite team choose to compete at either the 12 Km Championships in Highlands NJ or at the 5 Km XC Championships in Boulder? They have won on both the turf and the roads and have victories at distances from 5 Km to a Half Marathon. If they do compete in one more event, and Davis runs for the team and scores well, his lead will be insurmountable. Davis’s teammate, John Poray Greater Indianapolis, is in 2nd place with 320 points from 4 events. Poray, once he came back from a niggling injury, took 3rd at the Half Marathon and 2nd in the 10 Km at Dedham. It is too early to say Davis has the Grand Prix win in his pocket. Should Poray compete in an event that Davis skips, for whatever reason, he could pass Davis. Roosevelt Cook So Cal has 270 points from a 2nd at Cross Country Nationals in San Diego, a third at the 10 Mile Run in Sacramento and a 5th place finish at the highly competitive Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee. If Davis would end his Grand Prix season right now, he would wind up with 395 points and Cook could pass him by competing at both Highlands NJ and Boulder. If Davis competes in one of those two events, and finishes 6th or better, he locks up the MNGP 40-44 win! So, Cook is probably heading for 2nd in the Masters National Grand Prix. Does he have that locked up? No, Shawn Williams New Jersey has 225 points from 5 events, one of which is the ultra-competitive Club Cross Championships where he scored just 5 points. Should he compete at either Highlands or Boulder, and finish anywhere in the top 12, he would surpass Cook’s current total. Others with possibilities include Sergio Reyes San Francisco Bay Area, who took 1st at Cross Country Nationals and 2nd at Sacramento.  Reyes, who aged up into the Masters Division this year, still has Open goals and is, therefore, not likely to run many more MNGP events. One cannot rule him out though. With 195 points and two events, he could climb into 40-44 podium contention with one more event. Eric Blake Connecticut also has 2 events; his 185 points come from a third-place finish at Club Cross and a 2nd place at Dedham in the Half Marathon. In 2019, Blake won the Overall Championship at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham. This year he had to skip the event; his ability to compete on his own is circumscribed by his University Coaching duties. Peter Gilmore San Francisco Bay Area has 180 points from a 2nd place finish at Club Cross and a 4th at Sacramento. Like the others, he is unlikely to show up at the 12 Km in September but the chance to compete in the 5 Km XC Championships in Boulder may be a chance he will not miss. Jerry Faulkner New York City and Kevin Shirk Virginia are tied for 8th with 170 points on 2 events.

Jesse Davis takes the Overall and 40-44 Division wins at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships Photo courtesy of Syracuse Half Marathon


Top Contenders: Jesse Davis     John Poray      Roosevelt Cook

45-49 As of this writing, Jacques Sallberg So Cal has a large, almost insurmountable lead. A surprise entrant at the Masters Road Mile Championships in Rochester, NY, Sallberg brought home a 2nd place finish overall but a first in 45-49. That topped his MNGP total up at 485 points from 5 events. Earlier in the season, Sallberg had 1st place finishes at Cross Nationals and the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, not to mention a 2nd place finish at Club Cross and a 3rd at the 10 Mile Championships. Gregory Mitchell's Oregon 285 points leave him far back, but those points are from just three events. If Mitchell competes in both the 12 Km and at Boulder, and Sallberg does not, he could win this MNGP contest. His two wins, if they happen, would give him 485 points, the same as Sallberg. And he would win the first tiebreaker, head-to-head competition, 2-1. Mitchell has the ability to do that, but it might not happen if Mitchell cannot break away from coaching duties to contest the 12 Km. And even if Mitchell wins the 12Km, it is likely that Sallberg will contest the outcome at Boulder. These two met on the turf in Boulder in 2015, with Sallberg taking the win just ahead of Mitchell. And even if Mitchell should reverse the 2015 outcome and finish first, as long as Sallberg finishes 2nd, he adds 5 points to his total and defeats Mitchell 490 to 485. Mitchell not only has to beat Sallberg, but someone else must beat him as well, a tall order! Another wrinkle is that Peter Gilmore, currently sitting in 7th in 40-44, with 180 points, aged up to this division this spring. He is not a threat to take 1st or 2nd, but he could affect the outcome if he runs at Boulder. If so, Mitchell needs to beat both Gilmore and Sallberg to get the win, and Gilmore has to come in ahead of Sallberg so Sallberg's total stays at 485. I hope that Mitchell can get away to race the 12 Km and, if so, to win it. That would add some spice to the 5 Km XC at Boulder! Todd Rose San Francisco 285-2 events is currently in 3rd, with Neil Chandler Jacksonville 170-2 and Jerry Snider Waco TX area 170-2 tied for 4th. None of those three competed at the 12 Km last year. If West Valley decides t contest the 5 Km at Boulder, and I hope they do, Rose is likely to be there! He would either need to beat Gilmore or have Gilmore skip the event to move up onto the podium. But it would be a nice side-benefit of competing. Both Highlands and Boulder are real trips for Chandler but Boulder is not as far from Waco so Snider could well pick up some more points there. Although still a long-shot, Snider could find himself on the 45-49 podium.

Jacques Sallberg takes 2nd Overall and Wins the 45-49 Division at the USATF Masters Road Mile Championships Photo by Pam Fales
 

Top Contenders: Jacques Sallberg     Gregory Mitchell     Peter Gilmore

50-54 There are 7 athletes in this division with at least three events already completed and at least 200 points. Two of the top runners in this division have run just two events, yet have 200 and 195 points respectively, Mark Yuen and Jaime Heilpern. Neither is likely to compete at Highlands NJ, but it is possible both could compete at Boulder. Even if they do, neither can amass more than 300 points, and that will not be enough to make the podium. Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray So Cal, at 54, sits in 2nd place with 285 points from his 4 events. Not motivated by the GP contest, Cushing-Murray will have an effect. His Cal Coast team will likely contest the 5 Km XC Championships at Boulder. If so, Cush will be there and will age up to the 55-59 division if he competes. He is unlikely to compete in the 12 Km at Highlands and if he also skips Boulder for any reason, he remains in 50-54 and has an outside shot at the MNGP podium. Ivan Lieben San Francisco Bay Area is leading the way at present in this division with 355 points from a 2nd at Cross Nationals, thirds at Club Cross and the 10 Mile and a fifth at the 10 Km. His strongest challenge is likely to come from Gregory Putnam Greater Boston. Putnam has 270 points from three events. He finished 4th to Lieben's third at Club Cross, but finished ahead of Lieben at the 10 Km, taking 3rd to Lieben's 5th. Perhaps more significantly, Putnam is competing at WMA in Finland. He is likely to garner somewhere between 90 and 100 points from that competition. If so, he becomes the leader with 360 - 370 points from 4 events. Last fall, Putnam finished 10th overall and 2nd in 50-54 at the 12 Km Championships. If he would do so again, and glean 100 points from his activities in Finland, Putnam would stand at 465 points and would be tough to beat. If the West Valley 50+ team decides to contest the 5 Km XC Championships at Boulder, it seems likely that Lieben would be there. But if Putnam gets 195 points from the 12 Km and Tampere, and stands at 465, Lieben cannot catch him without contesting both Boulder and Highlands; he needs more than 100 points. Mark Andrews 250-3 events Rochester NY, Steve Bell 245-4 Greater Atlanta, Richard Falcone 240-3 New Jersey, and Mark Callon 235-3 Greater San Jose CA could end up on the podium if things break their way.
Ivan Lieben on his way to a 50-54 Silver Medal at the 2021 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo By Michael Scott, cropped by author



Top Contenders: Ivan Lieben     Gregory Putnam     Mark Andrews

55-59 Nat Larson, who leads this division with 495 points from 6 events, will soon be in the next division up, 60-64. Larson had his 60th birthday earlier this month and is competing in Finland as a 60–64-year-old. If the WMA Championships unfold as expected, Larson will compete in the 10 Km. If he does that, he improves up to the 60-64 division. If he also comes back with 100 points, as anticipated, he enters the 60-64 division with 500 points on 7 events and will be the winner of that division. If the unexpected should happen, that Larson does not compete in the 10 Km at Tampere. And if he also skips the 12 Km at Highlands and the 5 Km XC in Boulder, Larson remains in 55-59 and would win the MNGP title with his 495 points. Assuming Larson ages up into the next division the top contenders for the 55-59 win include Christian Cushing-Murray So Cal 285-4, if he ages up; John McMahon Greater Buffalo 330-4; Dale Flanders Greater Rochester NY 300-5; Michael Strickland Greater Atlanta 280-5; Scott Siriano Rocky Mountain Ski country, CO 270-5; Francis Burdett Central Massachusetts 265-5; Scott Grandfield Rhode Island 250-3; John Borthwick Rocky Mountain Ski country, CO 240-4; and Mike Nier Rochester NY 240-4. All of those athletes have between 3 and 6 events, with at least 240 points and no more than 330. Cushing-Murray, with his 285 points from 4 events is right in the middle of that mix. Flanders and Burdett are competing in Finland so will be a little higher up the scoreboard with additional points. It will, most likely, be Flanders and Burdett 1-2 after Tampere. Flanders has a good chance to bring back 100 points and Burdett is likely to bring back close to that amount. If Flanders comes home with a hundred points and Burdett with 95, for example. Flanders would be atop the division with 380 points on his best 5 events and Burdett would be tied with McMahon for 2nd at 330 points. 

What is the likely scenario over the last two events? With Colorado addresses, one would guess that Siriano and Borthwick would contest the 5 Km XC at Boulder. Both contested the 10 Km at Dedham so it is plausible that they might compete in the 12 km. Either of those events would likely propel them towards the top but perhaps not to the top. Siriano is likely to top out at around 340, and Borthwick a bit lower. That is probably not high enough for the podium. Cushing-Murray, if he competes at Boulder, should be able to wind up at or above 370, close to where Flanders is likely to wind up. What about McMahon? He did not compete at Highlands last year, but it is a lot closer than Boulder. And McMahon has no aversion to the distance; he took 2nd in the division at the Half marathon Championships in Syracuse. If McMahon competes in New Jersey, he will likely raise his total above 400 points. That is higher than anyone else is likely to achieve, under the assumption that Larson moves up to 60-64.

John McMahon left cruises to the Silver 55-59 Medal at the USATF Masters Road Mile Championships in Rochester NY  Photo by Pam Fales



Top Contenders: John McMahon   Dale Flanders     Christian Cushing-Murray  

60-64 My working assumption is that Nat Larson Central Massachusetts will successfully run the 10 Km in Tampere. To get the 100 score he needs to raise his total to a perfect 500 on his 5 best events, he must come in ahead of two of the fastest of the current crop of 60–64-year old's, Dan King Boulder CO and Rick Lee New Jersey. Coming in ahead of those two speedy athletes is not guaranteed. But at the 10 Km in Dedham, Larson ran two minutes faster than Lee. King's best mark is a 36:07 at altitude last September. But even if one takes a minute off that, it would still be a minute slower than Larson ran at Dedham this April. Even if Larson would come back without the win, he would have two more chances, the 12 Km at Highlands and the 5 Km XC at Boulder. He would be favored to win at Highlands, where he ran a minute faster than Lee when he was still in the comeback mode. It might be trickier at Boulder where King comes in with the home turf advantage and high-altitude training. Larson is the heavy favorite to somehow get a win, total out at 500 points and win with a perfect score. King is not really in the Grand Prix hunt. With many track goals on his list, Cross Country and Road Championships are secondary. At the moment he has 200 points from wins at Club Cross and Cross Nationals. But Lee is a threat. He currently has 445 points from a Half Marathon win, 2nd place finishes at Dedham and Rochester, a third in Atlanta and a 9th place finish when he was outlasted in the dash to the finish line, finishing just 6 seconds out of 4th. Lee is a strong favorite to pick up 100 points from the Half Marathon at the WMA in Finland. If so, his score on his best 5 events rises to 480. To get to 495, Lee would have to win both Highlands and Boulder, a very tall order. Lee cannot get to 500. Tim De Grado Greater Denver is currently in 2nd with 390 points on 4 events. He won the 10 Mile and 10 Km Championships and finished 2nd at Club Cross and Atlanta. If he runs one more event, he jumps into contention. Should he run and win at both Highlands and Boulder, not completely out of the question, his total rises to 495 points. Even if Larson gets his 500 points, there would still be a shoot-out for 2nd and 3rd between Lee and De Grado. That will be worth watching! John Van Kerkhove Rochester NY is currently in third with 340 points on 5 events. He can move up with a good run at Highlands and/or Boulder, but it is unlikely his total will rise much above 400. Joe Mora Greater Syracuse is in a better spot but will still find it hard to match De Grado and Lee. Mora has 330 points on 4 events, but Lee and De Grado seems to be better at longer races and on the turf than Mora is. At least that is the story so far this year. It would not be surprising to see Mora's total rise above 400 but rising much above 450 seems almost impossible, even if he runs at both Highlands and Boulder. Casey Hannan and Adam Feerst are in 5th and 6th currently. Like Van Kerkhove they can move up, but it is unlikely their totals can rise much above 400 points.

Nat Larson takes 1st place in Overall Age-Grading and in the 55-59 Division at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships


Top Contenders: Nat Larson   Tim De Grado     Rick Lee

65-69 Jacob Nur Greater Sacramento is, arguably, the fastest runner in this division. He has 300 points from wins at Cross Nationals, Atlanta's 5 Km and Sacramento's 10 Mile Championship. He lowered his 65-69 American Record at the 10 Mile Championship. Nur does not often travel across the country for a race, so it was a surprise to see him in Atlanta. I learned, subsequently, that he has family in the area. That suggests he may be content with his current 300 points. On the other hand, he does enjoy lowering American Records so it is conceivable he might race at Highlands; it is a fast course. It seems a longshot to think he might run both but that is what he would have to do to be sure to land on the podium. If he won both, of course, his total would rise to 500 and he would win with a perfect score. Brian Pilcher is the other runner who has been breaking records in this division, primarily, but not entirely, on a closed course in Houston, set up to satisfy all the legal requirements for record setting. Given Pilcher's interest in records and not much else at this point, it seems unlikely Pilcher will compete in many National Championships.  He won a ton of them in his 50's and 60's, setting numerous records and achieved recognition in 2013 as being the USATF Masters Athlete of the Year. He does not appear on the scoreboard. The favorites to win this division are Kevin Dollard Southeast NY State, currently leading with 450 points on his best 5 events, and Ken Youngers Greater Atlanta, in 5th place with 290 points. Those points come from a win at Dedham and 2nd place finishes at Atlanta and Rochester. Off to a slow start due to an injury, Youngers earned no points at Club Cross and Cross Nationals. He was back on his game at Dedham, setting a 65-69 course record. Last year at Highlands, Youngers set an American 65-69 12 Km Record at Highlands. There is every reason to think he might run there again and try to lower the record. If Youngers wins at Highlands, his total rises to 390. Even if Dollard's total stalls at 450, Youngers would need to run Boulder and finish 8th or higher to move past him for the win. Dollard's 450 points come from 2nd place finishes at Syracuse and Dedham, 3rd place finishes at Club Cross and Syracuse and a 5th place finish at the Road Mile in Rochester. That suggests Dollard could move up with a good run at Highlands. He competed in the 12 Km last fall but could only manage a 5th place finish. If he does the same this year, his total does not rise. Youngers is favored to pass Dollard but it is not a sure thing. He could win with his 450 points. What about Dollard's teammate, Reno Stirrat? In his first year in this division, he had a terrific shootout year with Joe Reda. Reda prevailed in the end, but it was fun to watch! The last couple of years has seen Stirrat struggle with injuries. As a result, he has not been at the top of his game this year. Despite that, he is currently in 2nd place in the division, with 380 points from his best 5 events. He took 3rd place at Syracuse and Dedham, 5th place at Club Cross and Atlanta, and finished 13th at the Road Mile at Rochester. That race was one where Stirrat took a hit for the team. His hamstring was acting up and he probably should have skipped the race. But don't try to convince Stirrat of that. If he had not run, two of his teammates would have been on a team that was incomplete and would not get a score. That interrupted Stirrat's recovery. But his Strava reports suggest that he has worked through his troubles and may be looking at the possibility of a solid block of training over the summer. If so, Stirrat could yet make some noise in the MNGP contest. Second place finishes at both Highlands and Boulder would move him even with Dollard. Even if that proves too much, a solid finish at either one could well raise him well above 400 and leave him with a good shot at a podium MNGP finish. Eugene Myers, currently in 4th, will move up to the next division if he competes after this summer. Scott Linnell is in 6th with 265 points on 4 events, 5 points ahead of Tomas Rodriguez. Linnell and Rodriguez can both improve on their totals, but it is unlikely those totals will rise to the level of a podium finish.

Ken Youngers heading for a 65-69 Division Win and the 65-69 Course record at the 2022 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships at the James Joyce Ramble Photo by Michael Scott


Top Contenders: Ken Youngers     Kevin Dollard     Reno Stirrat

70-74 Jerry Learned won the MNGP 70-74 title last year and most thought he would be a longshot to win again this year, but it may happen. Learned has competed in all 7 events; his best 5 scores come from a 2nd place finish in Sacramento, third place finishes at Cross Nationals, Syracuse and Dedham, and one of his two 4th place finishes, Atlanta or Rochester. Learneed is entered in the Cross Country race at WMA's in Finland. He is likely to finish 3rd or 4th in his division if all goes according to form. Learned has come in ahead of Hirschberger in two races this year but Hirschberger has been coming on strong as he is returning from injury. If Learned comes in 3rd rather than 4th, he earns 5 extra points, raising his total from 450 to 455, which could be decisive. Otherwise he must look for a podium finish in New Jersey or at Boulder. Neither is guaranteed. Make no mistake, though, 450 may be enough for the win. Doug Bell is currently in 2nd with 350 points from 4 events. Bell is not likely to contest the 12 Km, but he will be shooting for the win at Boulder in his home state. He won at Club Cross, so a win at the 5 Km XC is a strong possibility. If so, he moves to 450 and a tie with Learned. If Learned competes in that race and loses, Bell would get the win on the head-to-head tiebreaker. When Gene Dykes returned from injury to take 2nd at Atlanta and then win at the Half Marathon and 10 Mile Championships, many penciled him in as the likely winner of the 70-74 MNGP. He entered WMA early so that would have moved him from 295 on 3 events to 395 on 4 events. Then a win at Highlands would give him 495 and the win. But things do not always go according to script even with such an illustrious runner as Dykes. Dykes ran an ultra-marathon, a 100-Miler, I believe, in Norway. He sustained an injury which he hoped would pass quickly enough to allow him to be competitive in Finland. But he recognized that it was taking too long to heal, and he withdrew. Dykes could still win the MNGP but it is not clear he is very focused on it. He will now need to have a good result at both the 12 Km in Highlands and the 5 Km XC in Boulder. If either race gets in the way of preparation for a fall marathon, he might skip that one. If Dykes is back near the top of his game, he might run both anyway. He ran at Highlands last year even though he was injured. That suggests we will probably see him there again. That should send a good signal on whether the has a chance for a Grand Prix win this year or not. Others who might, ordinarily have a chance at a podium finish have either too few points or too few events or both. David Dunbar is in 5th place. His 270 points come from a 2nd at Cross Nationals, a 3rd at Club Cross and a 4th at the Ten Mile. He came in ahead of Learned at the first two but Learned had the edge at the Ten Mile. Dunbar needs points from two events to threaten Learned. If he shows up at the 12 Km in September, it will be a sign he is going for the MNGP win. If Learned gets no additional points, Dunbar needs 185 points to win outright, a 2nd and a 3rd. Given his XC prowess, he can perhaps get a 2nd at Boulder. He might have to beat Learned to get a 3rd at Highlands. Mike Wien 240-3 and Rick Katz 215-3 are in 5th and 6th. They will likely both compete at Boulder. If they also compete at Highlands and score well there, they could move up into contention for the final podium spot. But Learned is safe and Bell as well, unless he is forced to skip Boulder for some reason.

Jerry Learned speeds to a 4th place finish and 85 GP Points at the 2022 USATF Masters Road Mile Championships in Rochester NY Photo By Pam Fales-Cropped by author


Top Contenders: Jerry Learned     Doug Bell      Gene Dykes

75-79 Dave Glass has the lead with 490 points from his top 5 events. He has been the most consistent runner this season. His points come from wins at the Half Marathon, Ten-Miler, and 10 Km, along with 2nd place finishes at Club Cross and the One Mile. Ordinarily 490 points would be enough for a comfortable win, but not this year. Gary Patton, the Middle-Distance Hall of Famer, is contesting the issue. He has 465 points from his top 5 events and, should it be relevant, the edge right now, 3-2 on head-to-head competition. Both are entered in the XC and the 10 Km at WMA. Glass should be able to get 100 points from the 10 Km. Patton could get 100 points from the XC, but it is not guaranteed. It may depend on whether a semi-final of the track for the 5000-meter run is necessary or not. It was originally scheduled for Friday, the day after the XC event. If Patton has to worry about saving energy for that semi-final, it could affect his XC result. Suppose Glass wins the 10 Km and Patton wins the XC and Glass. Patton's total rises to 480 and Glass's to 495. If Glass runs the 12 Km Championships at Highlands and wins, he gets to 500 points and no one, not even Patton can touch him. Glass won the event last year, so it is not far-fetched. Patton is unlikely to run the 12 km but is likely to run at Boulder. Boulder is tricky for Patton because Ron Wells Greater San Diego may show up and would be favored on the turf over Patton. He came in ahead of Patton (and Glass) at both Club Cross and Cross Nationals. Gary Ostwald Denver is very likely to compete at Boulder and, if healthy, could also come in ahead of Patton. If so, there is little reason for Patton to contest the issue. Paul Carlin Southwest Michigan, yours truly, somehow wound up in 3rd place at this stage despite being in recovery mode for the entire spring. An Achilles injury prevented me from training normally from May 20th until December 23rd last year. My 3rd place is not likely to last. It relies on my contesting 5 events for 380 points- a 4th place finish at the Half Marathon, 5th place finishes at the ten-Mile and 1-Mile, along with a 7th at the 10K and an 8th at the 5K. But even if I had an excellent fall season, I could not catch Glass and Patton; the best I could hope for would be to hold off the rest of the challengers. That, too, is a tall order, as my max score is probably no higher than 425 and that is an optimistic reading.  Ezequiel Garcia Newark NJ got off to a strong start but ran into some kind of injury problem that began to impact him at the Half Marathon and made his completion of the 10 Km very difficult. He did not compete at the 1 Mile event. He, nonetheless, has 345 points from 4 events. If he can return to anything like the form he had for most of the year, he should wind up with at least 425 points and the opportunity to increase his total at the 5 Km XC. Wells, Jan Frisby Western Colorado, Ostwald, and Jim May Rochester NY are all well placed to move past me in the MNGP standings. Wells has 295 points from wins at Club Cross and Cross Nationals, along with a 2nd place finish to Patton at the 5 Km. Wells has not often competed at distances as long as the 12 km in Highlands. It is unlikely he will try as Glass has a commanding lead and Wells would be competing to raise his score in the hopes of finishing 2nd ahead of Patton. I doubt he has that much interest at this point. I do expect him to contest the outcome in Boulder because he is a dynamite XC runner and would enjoy the challenge of competing against the best at altitude. But a hundred points at Boulder, if he does not compete at Highlands would move him to 395 points. That might not be enough to deny me a third-place GP finish. Frisby has 315 points on 4 events. His calf, I believe, acted up at the end of the 10 K Championships so he had to pull out of the 1 Mile. This was a shame because the Mile is, arguably, his best event. he was able to beat Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue, a few years ago to take the victory at Flint. Frisby did not expect the injury to throw him off for too long. If correct, all Frisby needs to move even with or past me is a good outing at Highlands, perhaps a 4th place finish could be enough. He could then improve his outcome with a good outing at altitude at Boulder in his home state. Ostwald has 270 points on three events, a 2nd at the 10-Mile, a third at Cross Nationals and a 4th at Atlanta. If Ostwald heads east one more time to compete at Highlands, he could close in on 3rd place. Finishing up with a top effort in his home state of Colorado, Ostwald could easily take 3rd overall in the GP. Jim May could also make some noise, especially if Ostwald does not compete in NJ and May does. With 260 points on 3 events, May needs both Highlands and Boulder to move into contention for third so it is a longer shot for May than Ostwald. A 2nd or 3rd at the 12 Km would leave May with a definite shot at third with a good outing at Boulder to finish things off. On the other hand, May prefers shorter races. But a 12 km is only 2 km longer than a 10 K and May typically competes at Dedham. The other important factor is whether GVH sends a 70+ team to Highlands. If so, May will compete. The same question arises about Boulder because it is a long, costly trip and the altitude may be a discouraging factor. Or GVH may take it as a challenge.
Dave Glass strides to the finish and another 75-79 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham MA Photo By Michael Scott



Top Contenders: Dave Glass     Gary Patton     Gary Ostwald  

80-84 Andrew Sherwood Atlanta leads the way with 360 points from a win at the 10 Mile in Sacramento, thirds at Club Cross and the Mile and a fifth at the 5 Km. But John Elliott Maryland is not far back and could yet come out on top. Elliott has 280 points on three events, a win at Club Cross, a 2nd at the 1 Mile and a 4th at the 10 Km in Dedham. I expect to see Elliott in New Jersey if healthy and fit. He is a competitor. If Sherwood skips the event, Elliott can take the lead. But if Sherwood also contests the event, he should retain the Grand Prix lead, even if Elliott should take the win. Then Elliott would have to make his way to Boulder and compete at altitude for the win--Exciting times! 
Stan Edelson Florida is in 3rd with 195 points from 2 events. Roland Cormier and David Turner are tied for 4th at 185 points on 3 events. They are not yet out of the race for 1st in the MNGP but it is close. There are only two events left. Any of those three who hopes to snatch the title from Sherwood will need to compete in both of the two remaining events this fall. Edelson would need 170 points or more and the other two 180 points or more to pass Sherwood as he stands. All Sherwood has to do to assure himself of at least a 2nd place is to compete at Highlands (or Boulder) and finish 13th or better. Even though Cormier, Edelson and Turner are all but eliminated from the race for 1st, they are in a tight battle for the final podium spot, the last position that gets a plaque rather than a certificate. Edelson has a slight edge but whoever does the best job in the last two events will likely capture the third spot. I am listing Cormier because he beat Turner at Club Cross and Turner beat Edelson at the 5K. But, as Ecclesiastes put it so long ago, "The Race is not always to the swift..." and that is definitely true in the Grand Prix. One must compete to earn points. If Edelson competes at both Highlands and Boulder and Turner and Cormier do not, Edelson will take 3rd in the Grand Prix ahead of them.

Andrew Sherwood attacks the Tallahassee Cross Country course on his way to a third place finish and laying the base for his current lead in the 2022 Masters National 80-84 Grand Prix 



Top Contenders: Andrew Sherwood     John Elliott     Roland Cormier

85-89 Sid Davis Atlanta has the lead with 285 points from Silver medal finishes at Club Cross, the 5 Km and the 1 Mile Championships. He is the only athlete, at present, with the minimum of 3 events required to qualify for an event. But, as usual, the leader cannot rest on his laurels. Adrian Craven South Carolina is close behind. Craven took 1sts to Davis's 2nds at Club Cross and the 1 Mile. He has two hundred points from those two events but lacks a third. There are barriers for older runners associated with each of the last two events. The 12 Km, at 7.45 miles, is longer than most runners 85 and over like to take on in a race. On the other hand, 7 runners in the 80-84 division tackled the race last year and Everett Luoma, aged 90, competed the race! The 5 Km XC is a long way away from both Georgia and South Carolina and, once there, you have to compete in the low oxygen environment at mile-high elevations. But there's no sense in letting the Boulder guys have all the fun! In 2014 and 2015 when Cross Nationals were in Boulder, a bunch of 80+ guys showed up, including two 85 year olds in 2015, but they were all local, from the Boulder Road Runners! As in the 80-84 division, all Davis has to do to keep Craven at bay is to keep running and wind up with 1 more event than Craven. All Craven has to do to take the win is to run as many events as Davis. Four runners have one event and one victory each. Any one of them could get in the Grand Prix mix but they would need to run both events, the 12 Km in New Jersey and the 5 Km XC in Boulder CO. Elmo Shropshire San Francisco Bay Area won Cross Nationals at San Diego; Steven Fuchs Long Island took the win at Atlanta; Richard Williams San Diego won the 10 Mile Championship at Sacramento; and Duane Lougee Norfolk VA won the 10 Km at Dedham. It will be interesting to see who steps up to the challenge.

Adrian Craven #1073 on his way to an 85-89 win at the 2021 USATF Club Cross Country Championships Photo by Michael Scott, cropped by author



Top Contenders: Sid Davis     Adrian Craven

That ends, for now, my analysis of the Men's MNGP contests. There are lots of close contests that will be resolved over the coming months. It will be exciting to see them unfold!

The Team Analysis will come later in July after reporting on the WMA Championships is concluded.  

2022 USATF Masters National Individual Grand Prix Standings Update-Women

 June 29, 2022. We are over halfway through the 2022 USATF Masters National Grand Prix season. This article considers the Individual Grand Prix standings for the Women's National Championships and an analysis of prospects for the remainder of the season.

Winners in 2020-21 and in 2019 

2020-2021 Two Masters National Championships from before Covid [Club Cross-Lehigh, XC Nationals-San Diego] and two events from after Covid [12 Km-Highlands NJ, 5 Km XC-Boston] made up this Grand Prix, elongated over time but condensed in the number of events. The best 2 events were scored and the minimum requirement for eligibility was 2 events.

Women 40-44 Maggie Shearer 45-49 Lorilynn Bloomer 50-54 Nancy Thomas 55-59 Marisa Sutera Strange 60-64 Nancy Simmons 65-69 Nora Cary 70-74 Jo Anne Rowland 75-79 Kathleen Davies 80-84 Heide Moebius 85-89 Tami Graf

2022. The National [plus 1 International] Championship events counting are, in chronological order; Club Cross CountryTallahassee FL Dec 11 2021; Cross Country Nationals San Diego CA Jan 8 2022; Masters 5 Km Atlanta GA Feb 26; Masters Half Marathon Syracuse NY Mar 20; Masters 10 Mile Sacramento CA Apr 3; Masters 10 Km Dedham MA Apr 24; Masters 1 Mile Rochester NY May 21; WMA Championships [Cross Country, 10 Km, Or Half Marathon] Tampere Finland Jun 30-Jul 10; Masters 12 Km Highlands NJ Sep 18; Masters 5 Km Cross Country Boulder CO Oct 22

Awards Ceremony: After the races at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco CA on December 10, 2022.

Rules. The 2022 USATF Masters Individual Grand Prix consists of ten eventsAn athlete participating in an event can earn from 5 to 100 points in each event. First place in a given 5-year Age Division (40-44, 45-49, etc.) receives 100 points, 2nd place 95, third place 90, and so on down to 20th place receiving 5 points. All runners finishing the race behind the 20th place finisher also receive 5 points. The score at the end of the season is the cumulative total of the runner's best 5 events. Only athletes who participate in three or more events are eligible to win an award. Athletes with the top 3 scores in each division receive a 1st place, 2nd place or 3rd place plaque with their name on it. The fourth through 15th finishers in an age division, who are eligible, receive certificates. The World Masters Athletics Championships held in June and July contain a Cross Country event, a 10 Km Road and a Half Marathon Road Championships. Athletes who participate as part of Team USA may pick their best event of the three and accumulate points from that event like any other, compared only to other Team USA athletes. A Team USA athlete who is 2nd on the team but 6th in the event, scores 95 Grand Prix points for the event.

Current Standings and Prognosis for the Remainder of the Year

WOMEN

40-44 The top 5 are Jessica Hruska Iowa 355, Maggie Shearer So Cal 290, Jennifer Bigham Pittsburgh 200, Carre Joyce Heineck Oregon 185, and Jill Braley Georgia 175. Hruska is the only one of the five to have 4 events, a win at Atlanta, two podium finishes (3rd places) and a 6th at the highly competitive Club Cross competition. That gives her 355 points and a solid lead at the time. Shearer is definitely a threat though. On just three events she has 290 points from a first at the 10 Mile Championships and 2nd place finishes at Club Cross and XC Nationals. Should it come to that, she has the tie-breaker as she came in ahead of Hruska at their only meeting so far. But if Hruska competes in one more event, perhaps the 12 km Championships, giving her 5 events, that would mean Shearer would almost surely have to compete in both the 12 km and at Boulder to have a shot at the GP win. As a point of reference, Shearer did compete in both the 12 Km and the 5 Km XC when it was in Boston in 2021, so neither is that much of a stretch. Another interesting wrinkle is that Shearer may wind up in either the 40-44 or the 45-49 age division. Rules say that if the individual ages up to the next division and runs in a race after that, they carry their points up to the higher age division. If they do not race after their birthday, they remain in the lower age division. It could turn out that Shearer would need the points from Boulder to win the 40-44 but that if she runs it, she moves up to 45-49 where she may not need the extra points. None of these top 5 have entered WMA Tampere so that is not relevant to this discussion. What about Bigham? She has won the two events she has run, so she is an obvious candidate for winning the division. But so far, she has just raced on the roads. If Hruska runs no more events, Bigham could get into the picture by running both Highlands and Boulder. But Hruska only needs 45 more points to close out Bigham for 1st. Although both Heineck and Braley are fine runners, it does not appear that either is focused on trying to win this division. But should either try by entering the final two events, their top outcome is limited unless Hruska is done for the year. Alison Schwalm Eastern Philadelphia, currently in 6th with 155 points on 3 events, could move up into the top 5 or even land on the podium with two more good events.

Jessica Hruska winning the 5 Km 40-44 Championship Photo By Pam Fales


Top Contenders Jessica Hruska     Maggie Shearer     Jennifer Bigham

45-49 This division is difficult to predict because Shearer (see 40-44) is a wild card. If she runs at Boulder, she will age into this division and bring her points with her. She has an outside shot at a 40--44 division Grand Prix win if she runs at Highlands and skips Boulder.  If she runs Boulder, Shearer ages up into this division and is the likely winner. If she skips Boulder for any reason, then the podium race is likely to come down to a race between Sara Girotto Philadelphia 295, Euleen Josiah-Tanner Georgia 265, and Kathy Wiegand Greater Atlanta 240. All three have competed in three events, Girotto is in the driver's seat with wins at the 5 Km and the Half Marathon and a 2nd in the 1 Mile Run. Girotto finished 2nd in this division at Highlands NJ last year so it seems reasonable to expect her to enter and do well. Josiah-Tanner is moving out from her first love, track and field, to try her luck on the turf and the roads. She won the division at Club Cross and took 3rd at Atlanta. She was less successful at the much longer 10 Mile Run in Sacramento, but still took 6th and the 75 points that went with it. Josiah-Tanner is the only one of these leaders to have entered the WMA Championships in Finland. Based on the rules, the entry list and Josiah-Turner's talent, I expect her to return from Tampere with either 95 or 100 points. That will give her the lead, at least temporarily, and it gives her 4 events worth of scoring heading into the fall. Josiah-Tanner ran at Highlands last year, finishing well behind Girotto. But Josiah-Tanner ran very well on the turf at Tallahassee. So, if Josiah-Tanner enters Boulder, that puts pressure on Girotto to enter also to compete for the MNGP win. Girotto may be an excellent Cross Country runner, but she has not yet entered a Masters XC event, nor has she competed in any regional Cross Country events in the last few years. Wiegand has been an anchor for the Atlanta 40+ women's team. Her decisions about which races to enter will likely be driven by what the team is doing. Having said that, it is likely that Wiegand and Atlanta's W40 team will compete in Boulder; they love XC! They did not compete at Highlands last year. Unless the 40+ team decides they have a podium chance with points from the two last races, it is likely they would skip that one. If so, Wiegand would likely be out of the running for the podium. There are several runners with two events in the scoring column; it is likely that a few of them will be in the hunt for the podium as well. Rebeccah Wassner New York City and Heather Patterson Rochester NY are the main threats. Wassner has 195 points from a 2nd at the Half Marathon in Syracuse and a 1st at Dedham. Based in NYC, it seems plausible that Wassner would contest the 12 Km Championships. If she competes there and Wiegand does not, it is likely that Wassner would be 40 points or more ahead of Wiegand heading out to Boulder. If Wiegand enters and Wassner does not, it seems likely Wiegand would reclaim third (4th if Shearer ages up). So far, like Girotto, Wassner has not tried her luck at national XC Championships. Unlike Girotto, however, Wassner has competed in many triathlons, and triathletes tend to do well on the turf. It will be interesting to see how Wiegand and Wassner wind up. Patterson has thirds at the Half Marathon and the Mile. Her best strategy is to just keep entering competitions. If she can continue to finish 3rd or better in the division, she could wind up on the podium. If Wassner and Wiegand both stall at 3 events, Patterson waltzes past them. Christy Peterson So Cal could move up if she competes in Highlands and Boulder. She moved from Philadelphia to Southern California last year. So, it is plausible that she might decide to reconnect with some of her racing chums from Philadelphia who will be at the 12 Km in September. And it seems plausible that Cal Coast might send a W40 + team to Boulder. If both of those things happened, Peterson would wind up with 4 events and that might be enough to land on the Grand Prix podium.

Maggie Shearer taking the Silver Medal and 95 points at the highly competitive Club Crtoss Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo by Michael Scott


Top Contenders: Maggie Shearer      Sara Girotto     Euleen Josiah-Tanner    

50-54 This division is typically one of the most competitive and this season epitomizes that. Abby Dean Delaware already has 5 events and 480 points. This includes wins in three of her last four events, the 5 Km, 10 Km, and the Road Mile. Two other runners, Alexandra Marzulla New Jersey and Ingrid Walters So Cal both have 4 events completed, while 5 other athletes have three: Kimberly Aspholm New Jersey, Fiona Bayly New York City, Kathleen Beebe New Jersey, Amy McMahon [formerly Fakterowitz] Greater Buffalo NYand Wendy Terris Oregon. With 480 points from 5 events, Dean almost has a lock on the win, but not quite. Marzulla, at 330, cannot catch her. Walters, a Breast Cancer survivor, has 375 points on 4 events. Neither she nor Dean are headed to Finland. If Walters does not enter the 12 Km Championship, Dean wins. Walters could then win the 5 Km XC at Boulder and wind up 5 points shy at 475. Suppose Dean would skip the 12 Km Championships, implausible perhaps as it is a close-to-home national Championship. On the other hand, there are any number of possible conflicts. If Walters should win, that 100 points would put her just 5 points behind Dean and both would have 5 events. Running at Boulder would give Walters, who has done better on the turf this season than on the roads, a shot at improving her GP score. If she would finish 3rd, she would tie Dean; the 90 points would replace her lowest 85-point total so now her 'best 5' would be worth 480. They would still be tied after the first (head-to-head record) tiebreaker, because Dean beat Walters at the 5K, and Walters beat Dean on the turf at Tallahassee. But Dean would win on the 2nd tiebreaker with three wins to Walters's two. So, Walters would need to win or finish 2nd to be sure of beating Dean. Of course, if Dean runs the 12 Km and finishes ahead of Walters, that also guarantees Dean wins, and then Boulder is irrelevant for the 1-2 finish in this division. It is pretty amazing that Walters is almost sure to finish 1st or 2nd in the Masters National Grand Prix this year given that, at the age of 47, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and underwent treatment including chemotherapy. 

Marzulla, as noted, can catch neither Dean nor Walters but is certainly in the hunt for 3rd. Ordinarily she would be worried about Bayly, sitting in 4th with 270 points on 3 events. She finished 2nd in the 12 Km at New Jersey last year and is already entered. Marzulla is likely to run the 12 Km also but is unlikely to beat Bayly if Bayly is on her game. Bayly defeated Marzulla handily in the Half Marathon at Syracuse. They have not met otherwise this year. But a key factor is that Bayly is about to age up, like Shearer in 40-44. It appears that if Bayly competes at New Jersey she would age up into the 55-59 division. I will analyze her chances in the next section. If she does not compete at New Jersey her MNGP total would not be high enough for the podium in the terrifically competitive 50-54 division. 

Let's look more closely at Marzulla's record and possibilities before considering the others who can challenge her for the final podium spot in this division. [This statement assumes Walters runs either the 12 km or the 5 Km XC and finishes in the top 5; if so, Marzulla cannot catch her.] Marzulla has 330 points on four events. The 12 Km is likely to be her 5th; she finished 6th in the event last year. She might finish higher this year because her 2022 record shows some improvement over last year. But the competition is likely to be stiff. If she could finish 4th that would be worth 85 points; her GP total would rise to 415 on 5 events. If her Shore AC team decides to contest the 5 Km Championships at Boulder, she will likely compete. If so, she could improve her total again. Her lowest score so far is the 60 points she received for her 9th place finish at the ultra-competitive Club Cross competition. Should she finish 5th in Boulder, for example, she would increase her GP total by 20 points to a final total of 435 on 5 events. Terris, in 5th place currently at 220 points on three events, has competed at Club Cross and the two West Coast events this year, XC Nationals in San Diego and the 10 Miler in Sacramento. If Marzulla competes at the 12 km, Terris must have two more scoring events to have a chance at outpointing her. Terris will, most likely, make her decision on the final two events in NJ and Boulder based on what her team, Red Lizard does. It seems far more likely they would opt either for neither event or for Boulder. If Terris decides to go for it, she probably has to not only compete in Highlands NJ but come in ahead of Marzulla. Terris finished 7th at Club Cross, two places ahead of Marzulla. Aspholm, currently sitting in 6th with 215 points on three events, may be the biggest threat to her cross-State rival, Marzulla. Marzulla took the measure of Aspholm at Club Cross, finishing 9th to her 11th, but Aspholm came back to take 5th to Marzulla's 6th in the 1 Mile. Aspholm finished 3rd at Highlands last year, ahead of Marzulla. If she could repeat that and then choose to compete in Boulder, it would come down to the wire. Beebe, who is in 7th, has finished behind her teammate, Aspholm in each of their 3 events this year. So, she does not appear to be as much of a threat to Marzulla as Aspholm. The final contender is Amy McMahon, tied with Beebe for 7th on 185 points. McMahon ran a very nice Road Mile in Rochester, coming in ahead of Aspholm and Marzulla. But she finished behind both at Club Cross and Atlanta. Perhaps that is a sign that McMahon is coming on strong. She did not run Highlands last year. If she enters the 12 Km and comes in ahead of Aspholm and Marzulla, watch out! If McMahon and her Checkers team are feeling their oats, they might head to the Front Range of the Rockies to contest the 5 Km XC.

Abby Dean heading for the Finish Line and a win in 50-54 at the 10 Km Masters National Championships Photo courtesy of Michael Scott


Top Contenders: Abby Dean     Ingrid Walters      Alexandra Marzulla

55-59 Michelle Rohl Northeast PA and Lisa Veneziano Michigan have rolled into the division this year like a thunderstorm rolling in off the Great Lakes! They gave some warning last year. Rohl broke 55-59 American middle-distance records on the track and won the division at the 5 Km XC Championships; Veneziano took down Joan Samuelson's 12 Km American Record. They have kept it up this year! Rohl turned her attention for the first time to the turf and the roads. Rohl has entered Club Cross, the 5 Km in Atlanta and the Road Mile in Rochester and won them all, bettering the American Record in Rochester. Veneziano won the Half Marathon in Syracuse but finished 2nd to the legend, Colleen De Reuck Colorado at Cross Nationals in San Diego, and 2nd to Rohl at the 5 Km and 1 Mile. Jenny Hitchings Sacramento CA is, arguably, the outstanding runner in the division over the full range of distances. She holds the 55-59 records for the 5 Km, 10 Km, 10 Mile, Half Marathon and Marathon. She ran her first USATF Masters National Championship this year over ten miles in Sacramento; she not only won the race, but she also broke her own American 10 Mile record. She has not tested herself against either Rohl or Veneziano; a race with Hitchings, Rohl and Veneziano over a middle distance like 10 Km or 12 Km would be interesting! Hitchings is not contesting the Grand Prix, however, and is not likely to even compete in the minimum of three required events to qualify for an award. Rohl has 300 points on three events; she will, barring a major upset, return from Finland and the WMA Championships with 400 points on 4 events. Veneziano currently has 385 points on 4 events but is not going to Finland. She will, I imagine, defend her 12 Km title in New Jersey in September. If successful, that would give her 485 points on 5 events. Rohl has a strong likelihood of running the table, getting 500 points on 5 events if she contests the 5 Km XC in Boulder. There is another top runner in this division who has not yet been mentioned. Suzanne La Burt New Jersey is a terrific runner. She won the division at the 10 Km Championship in Dedham this year with a 40:06. Despite that talent, La Burt has not been able to match paces with either Rohl or Veneziano when they have met at a Championship. Rohl had the advantage over La Burt at the Club Cross and the 1 Mile; Veneziano finished ahead of La Burt at the Half Marathon and the 1 Mile. It seems unlikely that La Burt can catch either of those two and take the MNGP Individual title from them. But that doesn't mean she won't try! Barring a surprise, La Burt will contest the 12 Km again in her home state. Assuming Rohl does not run that one and Veneziano does, another 2nd place is likely. These 95 points would give La Burt 475 points on 5 events, enough to win in a number of other divisions but likely good for just the final podium spot in this division. And, of course, even the strongest Champions are not machines. And Masters runners also have lives and social connections that can sometimes get in the way of competing. It will be exciting to see how this division race unfolds in September and October.

If Fiona Bayly competes at Highlands, and she is already entered, even if she wins, that will bring her total to 370 points; that would likely have her in 4th place in 55-59 with just the USATF 5 Km XC left. It would be unusual for Bayly to compete on the turf. She has not done so even once in the last 5 years. It seems likely that Bayly will try to end the season on a high note at Highlands and not worry about the 55-59 Grand Prix podium until next season.

Two other strong runners are likely, but not certain, to be on the outside looking in, Tania Fischer So Cal and Laura De Lea New Jersey.  With 260 points on third place finishes at the 5K and 10 Mile Championships and a 5th at the highly competitive Club Cross, Fischer cannot be counted out. Fischer is probably more motivated by how her Janes Elite team will compete than by her personal Grand Prix fortunes. It seems probably Fischer will compete on the turf with her team at Boulder, but less likely they would travel across the country from So Cal to NJ for a 12 Km on the roads. De Lea is working her way back into condition after facing some challenges. Despite that, she has 230 points on three events where her primary focus was running for her team. She is very likely to compete in the 12 Km in her home state of NJ, but Boulder is probably very much up in the air. 

Michelle Rohl takes the 55-59 Win at the Masters 5 Km National Championships 


Top Contenders: Michelle Rohl     Lisa Veneziano     Suzanne La Burt

60-64 Three of the top four spots are held by the Greater Philadelphia trio who aged up  between last year and this year, Lorraine Jasper Greater Philadelphia, Doreen McCoubrie Greater Philadelphia, and Mary Swan Greater Syracuse NY. Jasper started like a 'house afire' and has never stopped. She took firsts on the turf at Club Cross and at Cross-Country Nationals, and on the roads at Atlanta. She slowed down just a tad when we switched to the longer events in the spring. Jasper finished 2nd at the Half Marathon to McCoubrie and 2nd at the 10 Km to Stella Gibbs Nor Cal at the 10K. At that point she had 490 points in 5 events. But then Jasper not only won the Road Mile in Rochester but lowered the American Record. That replaced one of the 2nd place finishes and raised Jasper's total to 495 points on her best 5 events. Jasper might well compete at Boulder; if she would win there, that would raise her total on her best 5 events to a perfect 500. Gibbs and McCoubrie are tied for 2nd with 380 points from 4 events. McCoubrie would be 5 points shy of Jasper even if she entered and won at both Highlands' and Boulder. If Gibbs entered both and won, and Jasper only ran at Boulder, Gibbs would tie Jasper and they would then be even on both tiebreakers, even though Jasper is well ahead now. That is a lot of ifs. Jasper is certainly the favorite for the 60-64 MNGP win! It is very tight between McCoubrie and Gibbs. If both enter Highlands, that battle may well determine 2nd and 3rd. McCoubrie ran a minute faster than Gibbs at the 12 Km last year. But that is no guarantee of 2022 results. Gibbs was able to beat McCoubrie at the 10 Km and won the 10 Mile Championships in the absence of Jasper and McCoubrie. That should be a race to watch!

Others who could factor into the top 5 include Mary Cass SE Massachusetts 245-3, Victoria Bok Greater Boston 195-3 events, Nancy Simmons SF Bay, Suzanne Cordes SF Bay, and Kathi Sleavin Oregon.

Lorraine Jasper right takes the 5 Km Masters National 60-64 Championship ahead of teammate, Doreen McCoubrie
 


Top Contenders: Lorraine Jasper     Doreen McCoubrie     Stella Gibbs

65-69 There are four athletes with over 200 points, Alda Cossi Greater Boston, Helene Myers Maryland, Suzanne Ray Oregon, and Susan Stirrat New Jersey. Stirrat and Myers have 5 events each; Stirrat is the leader at this point with 435 points. Stirrat, a track athlete who has been gradually extending her range, had, ironically, her highest finish at the Half Marathon in Syracuse - 2nd place. She has thirds at the 5K in Atlanta and at Club Cross. She finished 4th at Dedham in the 10K and 6th at the 5K. Myers, in 2nd with 350 points, finished several places behind Stirrat at three races and finished 4th to Stirrat’s 3rd at the 1 Mile Championships in Rochester. Myers has done well but it would be a stretch to expect her to pass Stirrat. Ray is in 3rd with 285 points on three events, a first at the Half Marathon, a 2nd at Club Cross, and a 3rd at the 10 Mile Championships. Ray did not compete across the country at Highlands last year, so it is unlikely this year. Her Red Lizard team may well decide to contest the outcome at Boulder on the turf. If so, Ray could pick up some points there. But, like Shearer in 40-44 and Bayly in 50-54, Ray will move up to compete in 70-74 if she enters one more championship. Her chances will be discussed further in that division. If she competes in no more Championships, her Grand Prix points stay in 65-69 and she finishes as high as 285 points would carry her, no higher than third. Ray might be passed by Alda Cossi, currently in 4th, who has 280 points on her three events.  New England is closer to Highlands NJ than Oregon but that did not entice Cossi to compete there last year. Perhaps this year would be different.  She did compete in the 5 Km XC last year, but it was located in Boston. Boulder is further away and may be a trip too far. Kitty Musante Florida has won the two events she entered, the 5 Km and 1 Mile Championships, giving her 200 points. She would need to enter two more events to place well in the GP. Cindy Williams Greater Atlanta finished 2nd at Club Cross in Tallahassee and 4th at the 5 Km Championships for 180. Williams did not enter the 12 Km last year. Will Atlanta decide to contest the 5 Km XC in Boulder, CO? Perhaps, and if they do, Williams will likely be there and move up in the Individual GP as well. Sharon Moore Rochester and Margaret Taylor Atlanta follow with 175 and 155 points on 2 events each, respectively.

Susan Stirrat closes in on her Silver medal at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championship


Top Contenders: Susan Stirrat     Helene Myers     Alda Cossi

70-74 Suzanne Ray Oregon, mentioned above in 65-69 would be in 3rd place in this division if she were in it now. Barabara Sauer Greater Buffalo leads currently with 355 points from a 2nd in Atlanta, followed by a 3rd at the Half Marathon and 4th place finishes at Dedham and Rochester. Jeannie Rice Greater Cleveland has 300 points from wins at the 5 Km, Half Marathon, and 1 Mile Championships. If Sauer competes in the 12 Km at Highlands, NJ, her total score will probably rise above 400 points. Even if Rice would compete at Highlands and come in ahead of Sauer, that would not be enough to come in ahead in the GP.  Rice usually has a fall Marathon on her schedule, which might also preclude her competing in those two championships. Ray has 285 points from three events. If she competes in either the 12 Km Championships in New Jersey or the 5 Km XC in Boulder, she and her scores move up into this age division. Ray would join her Red Lizard teammates, Sharon Gerl Oregon and Jeanette Groesz Oregon, who are currently in 3rd and 4th with 280 and 275 points. Groesz started out strong with wins at Club Cross in Tallahassee and Cross Nationals in San Diego. But she finished 6th at the 10 Mile Championships. Gerl finished 2nd to Groesz in the first two events and rose to the challenge at Sacramento, when Groesz was off her game, taking 3rd place. Like Ray, the decisions of Gerl and Groesz will likely be a team decision not individual. Norma 'Nonie' Hudnall South Carolina is 5th, ten points behind Groesz, on her three events. Will she compete in New Jersey or at Boulder?

Barbara Sauer claims 4th place and 85 Grand Prix points at the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships Photo by Pam Fales


Top Contenders: Barbara Sauer     Jeannie Rice     Jeanette Groesz

75-79 Catherine Radle Atlanta, the 2019 Grand Prix winner, has the lead at present and is the only athlete with three events on the scoreboard. She has 285 points from 2nd place finishes at Club Cross, the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, and the Road Mile at Rochester. Radle's two teammates occupy the next two spots. Myrna Barnett Greater Atlanta has 200 points from age division wins at Club Cross in Tallahassee and at the 5 Km in Atlanta. Andrea McCarter Greater Atlanta trails her by ten points with a third-place finish in Atlanta and a win at Rochester. Radle is in the driver's seat. Unless she skips an event that Barnett or McCarter compete in, Radle should stay safely ahead of them. Barnett and McCarter both need an additional event to qualify for an award. Three other runners, Shirley Shean, Joan Tremberth, and Barbara Rinker have a single event and are not likely to secure the three-event minimum to contend for awards.

Catherine Radle collects another 95 Grand Prix points from her 2nd place finish at the USATF Masters Road Mile Championships Photo by Pam Fales


Top Contenders: Catherine Radle     Myrna Barnett     Andrea McCarter

80-84 Jo Ann Hall won the 10 Mile in Sacramento and Joyce Hodges-Hite won the 5 Km in Atlanta. It would be a surprise if either of them should run two more events to qualify for an award.

85-89 Edna Hyer has qualified for an award already; she has 300 points from wins at Atlanta, Dedham, and Rochester. Suzanne Falco So Cal is in 2nd with 100 points from a win at Cross Nationals in San Diego. It seems unlikely that Falco would compete in the 12 Km in Highlands, but Boulder is not such a long trip. Tami Graf is in third with 95 points from a 2nd place finish in Atlanta.  If Falco is done competing this year, Graf will move up. She is entered in non-stadia events at the WMA Championships in Finland. If she brings back 100 points from that event, which seems likely, that gives her 195 points on two events. She would need one more event to qualify for an award. If she is willing and able to travel to Finland, a trip to Boulder for the 5 Km XC should be within her reach.

Edna Hyer secures her third win of the Grand Prix season at the USATF Masters Road Mile Championships

Top Contenders: Edna Hyer     Tami Graf     Suzanne Falco

It will be fun to see how the rest of the Grand Prix season plays out! Who will be getting the first-place awards in San Francisco?