December 17 2014. Recap of 2014 National Masters Club Cross Championship--Women's Teams.
The National Masters Club Cross Championships determines bragging rights among the different clubs and this is also the final stop on the USATF Masters racing circuit. In 2014 there were 10 races, 7 on the roads at distances from 1 mile to the Marathon, plus 3 cross country races at distances for the women from 5K to 6K and for the men from 5K to 10K. That meant this was also the last race to get additional points for the Team Grand Prix contest and for the Individual Grand Prix (conducted for the first time this year).
The Championship was held at the historic Lehigh University Cross Country course in Bethlehem, PA, past host to NCAA Division I XC championships and regular host of the large Paul Short Run. . Considering it was the middle of December in the foothills of the Alleghenies, it was a good day for cross country. Most runners opted for gloves and many had knit hats and, although overcast, no snow fell and there was none on the ground. Parts of the course were muddy, however, from a snowfall in midweek.
Because it is the Club Championships, first focus will be on the clubs. After that there will be a posting on the individual results. And this posting is for the Women's Teams; Men's Teams to follow.
Women's teams. The masters women, who were running 6 kilometers, were off first. In the women's races, the team score is determined by adding up the finishing places of the first three team runners. Each team may declare up to 5 runners, with the 4th and 5th runners displacing any of the top 3 runners of another team that they come in ahead of. Unattached runners and runners from incomplete teams are removed from the team scoring. At the end of the race, 255 women had completed the race, with the first arriving 21:30.9 seconds after the starting gun went off, and the last runner finishing 24 minutes and 38 seconds later.
W40+. Once the race started, Chris Kimbrough, of Team Rogue [Austin, TX], surprised more than a few runners by going out in a very determined fashion to the head of the pack and then to open an early gap. Sonja Friedn-Uhl tucked into second for the Atlanta Track Club, with two of the Janes Elite [Southern California] team runners striding beside her and Club Northwest [Seattle], the defending champions in the 40+ division, not far back.
|Chris Kimbrough [#2671] takes the early lead; Sonja Friend-Uhl [red singlet] moves nicely into the lead of the trailing pack. The Janes Elite runners [2725 and 2727] are also out smartly as was Club Northwest just back in orange.
Kimbrough was never headed and led from start to finish, leading Team Rogue to a decisive victory. Does it get much sweeter than this?
|Chris Kimbrough, Team Rogue, out of Austin, Texas, claims the individual victory and leads her team to victory in the W40+ team contest at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. on Dec 13 2014
Her teammate, Henkiel, was able to stay with the leading pack for most of the race, finishing 10th in
|Cassandra Henkiel, 2nd runner in for the triumphant Team Rogue, winner of the Women's 40+ Masters national Club Championship in Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
the team scoring. And Ayala-Troncoso sailed in with a 16th place score to nail down the win.
|Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, giving her all for Team Rogue, 3rd and final runner in for the W40+Champs--at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. December 2014.
At first it looked good for the Atlanta team, with the star power of Friend-Uhl in 2nd and Holly Ortlund in 6th for the team scoring. But that was not enough to hold off the ladies of Durham, North Carolina as the Bull City Track Club came in on a late charge to take 2nd place with a pretty tight pack. Only a little over a minute separated their first runner, Alexandra Bigelow [7th], and their
|Alexandra Bigelow, Finishing strong and leading the Bull City Track Club to second place in the Women's 40+ Masters National Club Championship in Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
second and third runners, Alison Klaitman [17th] and Nancy Kaiser [18th], who finished within a
|Alison Klaitman, 2nd finisher for the Bull City Track Club (Durham NC) helps the team to a 2nd place finish at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. December 2014.
second of each other. And their teammate, Caren Manganelli, was only two places back.
But would the Atlanta Track Club have enough to hold off Adidas Garden State and Team Janes for the third and final spot on the podium? When Friend-Uhl and Ortlund both finished in the top ten, things were looking good. But Team Janes had Tania Fischer in 5th and Kirsten Leech in 12th so Atlanta had only a nine point
|Tania Fischer, gritting it out for the Team Jane's Elite racing team at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. December 2014.
advantage. Would that hold up?
|Kirsten Leech, 2nd runner in for the Team Jane's Elite racing team at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. December 2014
It was a ways back to Atlanta's 3rd finisher, Irma Dennard and the Jane's third runner, Chris Gentile, who were not far apart on the course. But in the meantime, although lacking up front finishers, the Adidas Garden State club had a pretty tight pack. Michelle Brangan was the next finisher in the team race after Team Jane's Leech. When Adidas's Henrietta Trachsel finished only two places back and Martha Grinell claimed the 20th team scoring position, it was clear that Adidas Garden State had established the team score to beat at 48 points with both Atlanta and Team Jane's third runner still on the course. Dennard had to finish in 39th position or better to enable Atlanta to edge Adidas Garden State and she had to also finish within 8 spots of Gentile. Gentile needed 30th place to keep Adidas at bay.
|Chris Gentile, Team Jane's 3rd runner [no. 2726], high-stepping it on the course, running with the Athena Track Club's Tara Smith [no. 1229] and Downington's Jennifer Panetta [no. 1644] at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA. December 2014
When Gentile came across in 36th it was clear that the Team Jane's crew, despite a terrific run, would finish off the podium. And where was Dennard? Looking back down the course, one could see Dennard closing well to take the 38th spot that would guarantee Atlanta the third spot on the
|Irma Dennard, third runner in for the Atlanta Track Club strides in strongly to put Atlanta on th epodium in the Women's 40+ Masters National Club Championship in Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
podium. What a race!
Tightest Pack. After seeing that the winning team,Team Rogue had only 53 seconds between their first and third runners, I thought--Oh well, they win the tightest running pack distinction as well. No way!There were 5 other teams with tighter 3-woman packs: Tightest was the Athena Track Club's [Chester County, Pennsylvania] Tara Smith, Peggy Conlon, and Terry Ballou, who finished within 7.5 seconds of one another. How's that for running together and feeding off one another's energy?! Other close-running teams included Greater Philadelphia (19 seconds), Genesee Valley Harriers [Greater Rochester, NY] (37 seconds), Central Park Track Club [NYC] (38 seconds), and Adidas Garden State (43 seconds).
W50+. As with the 40+ division, this contest was over pretty early. The Athena Track Club claimed the win behind the 1-2 punch of their two decorated runners, Marisa Sutera-Strange and Doreen McCoubrie.
|Marisa Sutera Strange, leading the Athena Track Club to victory in the W50+ Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
Both have, earlier this season, added to their collection of national championships and they put their stamp on this race as well.
|Doreen McCoubrie, finishing strong to take 2nd place in the W50+ team scoring and help the Athena Track Club to victory in the W50+ Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
|Julie Hankin, closing out the scoring for the W50+ camps, the Athena Track Club at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
The Garmin Runners [New Jersey] looked a sure bet for 2nd place after Mary Christian and
|Mary Christian (no. 1739, Garmin Runners) moving well in the middle of the race, in stride with Jennifer Amato (no. 2850, Urban Athletics NYC), Julie Hankin (no. 1224, Team Athena), and Julie Deery (no. 1867, Greater Philadelphia), closes strongly to help her team to a podium finish in the W50+ division at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014
Susan Kinsella finished within 10 seconds of each other in 5th and 6th respectively.
|Susan Kinsella, striding in for the Garmin team, helping them to a podium position at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014
|Alyssa Tower (no. 1552, Club Northwest), charging through the middle of the race, leading runners Amy Kvillhaug (no. 1482) and Judy Stobbe (no. 1486), from the other orange singlet team, the Central Park Track Club at theW50+ team competition at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014 Kathy Martin, three time Masters Road Runner of the year and 8 times Cross Country Harrier of the year is in the white singlet to the right.
give Club Northwest a 4th place finisher. Only a half minute back in 11th was Kelly Kruell and a few seconds later in 12th, Gail Hall took 12th to seal the 2nd place finish for the team from the Pacific Northwest.
|Gail Hall, finishing strong for Club Northwest, just ahead of her teammate, Laurie Porter. Hall's 12th place finish put the finishing touch on Club Northwest's 2nd place finish in the W50+ team competition at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014
Not long after, Janice Morra, gave the Garmin Runners the third place finisher they needed to take the 3rd spot on the podium, 14 points ahead of the Willow Street AC [Greater Albany, NY] who came in 4th.
Tightest Pack. Four teams achieved the distinction of their 1st through 3rd runners finishing within a minute of one another. the closest pack overall was that of the Willow Street AC whose Beth Stalker, Colleen Brackett, and Mary Buck finished within 20 seconds of one another. Other close-running 50+ teams included the Club Northwest (38 seconds), Bella N Motion (42 seconds, New Jersey), and the Finger Lakes Runners Club (47 seconds, Ithaca, NY).
W60+. Eight complete teams contested this division. After the first 5 runners in the W60+ team competiton were across the finish line it looked like a close battle between the Genesee Valley Harriers and the Impala Racing Team (San Francisco). Sharon Moore and Cindy Ingalls took 1st and 4th for
|Sharon Moore took the first place int he W60+ team scoring to lead the Genesee Valley Harriers to the first place team finish in the W60+ division at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
Genesee while Jill Miller-Robinett and
|Cindy Ingalls, 2nd runner in for Genesee Valley took 4th in the W60+ division to help them to a first place finish at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
Jo Anne Rowland took 3rd and 5th for Impala. So a mere 3 points
|Jill Miler-Robeinett, digging deep for the strength to finish a tough race and take 3rd place in the team scoring for the W60+ division, leading her team to a podium finish at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
separated them as they waited for their 3rd runners to finish.
|JoAnne Rowland heading to the finish line with a strong 5th place finish in team scoring to help the Impala Racing Team onto the podium int he W60+ division at the Masters National Club Championship at Bethlehem, PA December 2014.
The Atlanta Track Club was 3 points behind Impala; Mary Richards gave them a 2nd place in the division and Terry Ozell was just a couple of minutes back in 9th place.
Genesee did not have long to wait as Carolyn Smith-Hanna came in less than a minute after Rowland, to take 9th place and give the Genesee Valley Harriers the W60+ championship with 14 points.
Impala had a few more minutes to wait for their 3rd runner; as it turned out, the 3rd runner from the Atlanta Track Club, Nonie Hudnall, was less than a minute and a half behind Ozell in 12th. That was enough to give Atlanta the 23 points they needed to claim 2nd place. But Impala was still able to claim the third spot on the podium as their third runner, Irene Herman, came in early enough to give them a five point lead over the 4th place team, the Pike Creek Valley Running Team.
Tightest Pack.The Genesee team not only took the team title in this division, they also had the tightest pack. There were 2:42 between Moore, Ingalls, and Smith-Hannah. Other close-running 60+ teams included the Pike Creek Valley Running Club [3:00] and the Atlanta Track Club [3:35].
W70+. The Playmakers Elite/New Balance team out of Lansing, Michigan had this division all to themselves. Despite the lack of competition, the team of Ellen Nitz, Shirley Larsen, and Janet Wallen ran very creditable times, finishing 245th, 248th and 250th out of the 255 runners in the overall race. And they ran as a pretty tight pack too. Only 3:37 separated the three of them at the end of the day.
Overall Age-Grading Team Champion. In addition to my observations on the tightness of running packs by the teams, I also like to include another mythical title, that of the overall age-grading champion. This simply consists of looking at the age-grading results and finding the three teams with the lowest three age-grading finishers (across all age groups) for the women's teams. To make things easy for myself, I will not throw out any runners. So, for example, I keep Kathy Martin in the scoring even though she ran unattached. Of course in her case it makes no difference. As the top age grading woman she simply shifts everyone's score up by 1 point.
Using these rules, the mythical Age-Grading champion would be the Athena Track Club with Marisa Sutera Strange (4th), Doreen McCoubrie (6th), and Mary Swan (26th) at 36 points. Somewhat surprisingly all three of these runners are between the ages of 51 and 53. Next up, only 6 points back at 42 points is the Rosemont Running Club consisting of Heide Moebius (5th), Bonnie Boyer (8th), and Bonnie Stoeckl (29th). These 3 athletes are 75, 58 and 59 years old respectively. The final team to make the age-grading podium is Team Rogue with Carmen Ayala-Troncoso leading the way in 3rd, followed by Chris Kimbrough (7th), and Cassandra Henkiel (35th). These three athletes are 55, 45, and 44 respectively.
Club Northwest [52 points] finished in 4th but had the distinction of having the most runners finishing among the top 20 age-grading scores, four. The rest of the top ten age-grading teams were, in order: the Genesee Valley Harriers , the Atlanta Track Club , the Impala Racing Team , the Adidas Garden State Track Club , the Janes Elite Racing Team , and the Finger Lakes Runners Club .
Congratulations to all of these fine teams and the 255 women athletes that contested the championships--a fabulous day of racing.