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.  

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic depth of analysis, Paul. USATF Masters LDR is tremendously fortunate to have you in our camp doing what you do so well for our sport, writing about it. Not only does it bring drama and intrigue, it inspires so many of us to be the best we can be as athletes. Thank you on behalf of all our Masters runners!👍🏻😀

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  2. Jerry Learned (23:43 for 5.8K) finished 11th in WMA and was 2nd US citizen in 70-74 behind Robert Qualls 21:59 who was First overall.
    Dave Glass and Gary Patton both ran 24:03 with Dave getting the nod by an eye lash. Dave was 1st for USA and Gary 2nd in 75-79.

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