Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Report on 2016 USATF Individual Grand Prix Standings

May 31 2015. The Indy 500 is in the books so we are at the traditional start of the summer. Although many of us can identify with emptying the tank in order to try our all to win a race, the focus of this blog is squarely on long distance runners, not Indy Car drivers. Let’s review the 2015 USATF Individual Grand Prix top 3 for each Age Division and check to see who is leading the various races this year. With 2 races so far on the West Coast and one on the East there is a strong West Coast flavor to these Individual GP Standings. 


W40. Last year it was five women from the East and one from the West contending for the title, with Melissa Senall (Genesee Valley Harriers-NY), who competes primarily for team glory, getting a little of her own by taking first place with 335 points. Renee Tolan (NY) parlayed second place finishes in the 10K, the 5K and the 5 K XC into a GP 2nd, with Connecticut’s Jennifer St. Jean  carrying 3rd place with a 3rd and two 4th place finishes. Others in contention included New York’s Heather Webster, California’s Carla McAllister, and New York’s Wakenda Tyler.

The leaders this year include 3 Californians, one from the Mountain West and 1 New Yorker. Southern Cal has three of the top 4 women. Nicole Hagobian took the Age Group 2nd at the 8K in Brea and traveled across the country to take 2nd at the 10K in Dedham. That willingness to travel suggests she may have her sight on a podium Grand Prix finish at the end of the year. Grace Padilla took 1st place at the USATF Cross Country Championship in Bend Oregon and 4th at the 8K road race in Brea.  Renee Tolan took 1st at the 10K in Dedham and is tied for third with Julie Ertel who won the age group Championship at Brea. Idaho’s Jennifer Anderson is in sole possession of 5th with her 2nd place finish at Bend. Tyler and Senall are on the board but further back with a 4th and 6th place finish respectively at Dedham.
Hagobian 190 Padilla 185 Ertel 100 Tolan 100 Anderson 95.
Grace Padilla taking Gold at Bend-2nd place USATF 2016 Individual Grand Prix W40 Standings

 W45. This group had a little more regional diversity in 2015 with 2 Californians, an Easterner and a runner from the Southwest. Audra Naujokas-Knapp (GVH-NY) took first by virtue of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place finish at races from 5K to 12K. Cassandra Henkiel, from Texas accumulated points from three first place finishes at 5K, 8K, and 12K into a 2nd place GP award.  Southern Cal’s Tania Fischer linked up a 2nd at the USATF XC Championship at Boulder CO and a 3rd at Club XC with her win at the USATF 8K road championship at Brea to take 3rd. Her teammate, Darcy Arreola-Lange, took 4th in the GP on the basis of two top ten and a top five finish in three different races.

This year the top two women so far hail from Santa Barbara CA and are the only two who have competed in two events. Cindy Abrami leads the way with a first at bend and a 2nd at Brea. Desa Mandarino had a 3rd and a 4th in the same two events. Sonja Friend-Uhl and Nathalie Higley took the gold in the one event each has entered so far, the 10K Championship for Friend-Uhl and the 8K for Higley, leaving them tied for third. Portland Oregon’s Sonya Wilkerson and New York’s  Emily Bryans, are tied for 5th as a result of Wilkerson netting the age group 2nd at Bend and Bryans at Dedham. Fischer, last year’s 3rd place finisher,  is on the board, tied for 7th with her age group bronze at Brea.
Abrami 195 Mandarino 175 Friend-Uhl 100 Higley 100 Wilkerson 95 Bryans 95.

Cindy Abrami taking 2nd Overall and winning the W45 Crown at the USATF XC Championships in Bend Oregon--1st Place USATF Individual Grand Prix W45  Standings

Sonja Friend-Uhl (far left) with her Atlanta Track Club teammates after successful races at the USATF 10K Championship at Dedham--3rd place USATF Individual Grand Prix W45  Standings.
 W50. Five of the top 6 contenders in 2015 for this Age Group were from the Northeast with one from California. Pennsylvania’s Lorraine Jasper and New York’s Carol Bischoff battled for the 2015 GP crown. They went head-to-head in 5 different contests. Bischoff came in ahead of Jasper in the first one, the USATF 10K Championship but Jasper had the edge in the other four. New York’s Marisa Sutera Strange finished 3rd on the strength of 4 first place finishes in 4 tries. Southern Cal’s Kathleen Cushing-Murray took gold at the Half Marathon and bronze at the 8K Championship and had 2 other finishes just off the podium to wind up  in 4th place in the GP. Pennsylvania’s Julie Pangburn took 5th to her teammate, Mary Swan’s 6th.

We have yet to have a single runner in this age group compete in more than one event. So the winners at Bend, Dedham, and Brea, Oregon’s Carol Daubeny,  Marisa Sutera Strange, and California’s  Laura Stuart, are at the head of the list. The 2nd place finishers at Brea and Dedham, Kathleen Cushing-Murray and Pittsburgh’s Lisa Lucas are tied for 4th. Mimi Fallon, of Massachusetts, and Southern Cal’s Kelle Taylor are tied for 6th based on their 3rd place finishes at Dedham and Brea respectively. Jasper and Bischoff, last year’s 1-2, are on the board but back in 17th and 26th on the basis of their 8th and 13th place finishes in Dedham.  Pangburn took 10th in the same race; she now sits in 20th place.
Daubeny 100 Strange 100 Stuart 100 Cushing-Murray 95 Lucas 95 Fallon 90 Taylor 90.
Marisa Sutera Strange in winning form at the USATF 10K Championship, winning not only her age group but the overall Masters title--1st place tie USATF Individual Grand Prix W50  Standings

Kathleen Cushing-Murray (far left) with her Jane's Elite teammates after their successful race at the USATF 8K Championship at Brea.--4th place USATF Individual Grand Prix W50  Standings [FB post Jane's Elite]

W55. In 2015 New York’s  Colleen Magnussen took the title with 2nd place finishes at the 1 Mile, 5K, and 10K and 2 other finishes just off the podium. Masters  Hall-of-Fame runner, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, countered with 3 first place finishes in three tries. That quality earned her 2nd place but she could not catch Magnussen. Other contenders included California’s Nancy Simmons, Colorado’s Delcia Litt and Laura Bruess, along with Georgia’s Mary Sweeney.

This year Portland Oregon’s Kelly Kruell and Santa Barbara’s Lynelle Paulick are neck and neck in 1st and 2nd. Kruell bested Paulick on the Cross Country course in Bend and Paulick edged Kruell on the roads in Brea. After that it’s Southern Cal’s Louise Davis and New York’s Beth Stalker tied for 3rd with 1sts in Brea and Dedham respectively. Southern Cal’s Suzanne Morris and Georgia’s Mary Sweeney round out the top 6 thanks to their 2nd place finishes at Brea and Dedham.
Kruell 185 Paulick 175 L. Davis 100 Stalker 100 Morris 95 Sweeney 95.
Kelly Kruell's W55 Gold Medal run at the USATF XC Championships at Bend--1st Place USATF Individual Grand Prix W55  Standings

Lynelle Paulick's 4th Place Finish at Bend--2nd Place in 2016 USATF Individual GP W55 Standings

W60. Hall-of-Famer and 2015 Masters Runner of the Year, Kathy Martin, from Long Island, took 1st with 5 first place finishes in 5 tries. Sharon Moore, a GVH runner from upstate New York, finished a strong 2nd in the GP with bronze medal finishes at the 5K and 10K, coupled with finishes just off the podium in 3 other events. New Jersey’s Susan Stirrat edged California’s Honor Fetherston by 5 points as they took 4th and 5th respectively. New York’s Coreen Steinbach and Belinda O’Brien, along with California’s Jill Miller-Robinett were also in contention.

Miller-Robinett is the early leader; she took Gold at the USATF XC at Bend and added a 4th place finish at the 10K at Dedham.. The leaders are some of last year’s top finishers though. Honor Fetherston and Georgia’s Nancy Stewart captured gold medals at Brea and Dedham respectively, putting them tied for 2nd in the  IGP. Southern California’s Madson Buchbinder captured Silver at Brea and Northern California’s Mo Bartley traveled across the country to take 2nd at Dedham. Stirrat is in 12th thanks to a 6th place finish at Dedham.
Miller-Robinett 100 Fetherston 100  Stewart 100 Bartley 95 Buchbinder 95

Dianne Anderson (far left), Mo Bartley (center) Jo Anne Rowland (2nd from left) and Jill Miller-Robinett (2nd from right) with Impala Teammates after a successful race at the USATF 10K at Dedham--Miller-Robinett in 1st place/ Bartley in 4th in 2016 USATF Individual GP W60 Standings--Rowland in 1st place in 2016 USATF Individual GP W65 Standings--Anderson in 1st place in 2016 USATF Individual GP W70 Standings
Honor Fetherston heading for a Gold Medal at Brea-Tied for 1st place- in 2016 USATF Individual GP W60 Standings [FB post-H. Fetherston]
W65. Jo Anne Rowland took the GP prize in 2015, amassing her points in distances from 8K to the Half marathon, scoring on the roads and on the cross country course. 2014 Women’s LDR Runner of the Year, Sabra Harvey, missed part of the year to injury but was able to score 3 gold medals in the second half of the season to net 2nd place. Carolyn Smith-Hanna took 3rd with a 2nd, a 3rd and a 5th place finish.

Rowland is making a serious push to take the crown in 2016 as well. She, and her teammate, Donna Chan, are the only runners to already have the minimum 3 races required for a GP Award. Rowland has the lead with a gold, silver, and bronze medal in her 3 races thus far. Chan is in 2nd with a silver medal and 2 7th place finishes. But this year it looks as if they may have Edie Stevenson to contend with; last year she had 200 points from 2 races. This year she has completed 2 races already, and won them both,  and is registered for the Half Marathon in San Diego.  Of course Rowland is also registered for the Half Marathon and will likely retain her lead, at least for now. Also in the hunt for a GP award is Kathleen Doswell, with a bronze medal at Brea and an 8th place finish at Dedham.
Rowland 285 Chan 235 Stevenson 200 Doswell 155

Edie Stevenson after capturing the W65 Gold medal at the USATF 8K Championship at Brea--
3rd Place in the 2016 USATF Individual GP W60 Standings [photo: Paul Carlin]
W70. In 2015, no one in this division had the required 3 events so there were no awards presented. The points leaders were: Norma Thomas 200 Jan Holmquist 200 Anita Gonzalez 100 Ruth Thelen 100 Irene Terronez 100 Judy Bomer 100 Manya Hult 100.

This year Dianne Anderson already has 2 events completed; she only needs one more to meet the minimum requirement for an award. She took 5th place in the 8K in her home state but traveled across the country to Massachusetts to compete and achieve a silver medal in the 10K Championship. If she was willing to travel that far once, perhaps she will make another trip for GP points? Norma Thomas and 2013-2015 Age Group Runner of the Year, Jan Holmquist, have one win each so far, at the 8K in Brea and the 10K in Dedham respectively. Irene Terronez is also in the mix with her silver medal at Brea. Both Thomas and Terronez are entered in the Half Marathon in San Diego so that will give them 2 events. Only one more is needed to qualify for a GP Award.  But they will have to be willing to travel a bit to get a 3rd event in. The closest Championship to New Mexico, Terronez’s home state, and Southern California, Thomas’s, is the 15K at Tulsa. Jean Gardner’s third place finish at the 8K in Brea puts her on the board in 5th.
Anderson 175 Holmquist 100 Thomas 100 Terronez 95 Gardner 90.

Norma Thomas headed for W70 Victory at the USATF 8K Championship at Brea-Tied for 1st place- in 2016 USATF Individual GP W70 Standings [FB post by Leon Laub]
W75. In 2015 Madeline Bost completed the three events it takes to qualify for an end of the year medal so she took the GP gold for this category. She took the gold medal in the 5K at Syracuse, the silver medal at the 5 km Cross Country championship in Saratoga Springs, and finished 4th at the Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco. Six others ran in a single Championship which they won. With only one event they cannot win a GP Award.

So far in 2016 the pattern looks similar to 2015. There were no competitors from this age group at the 10K in Dedham. Madeline Bost got on the board with a 4th place finish at Brea. If she competes in the 5K at Syracuse and the 5 km Cross Country Championship (or Club Cross) at Tallahassee, she will have the three events she needs. Will anyone else compete in three events?  We shall have to wait and see. Pat Herr took the gold medal at the 8K in Brea and Kathy Kusner took gold at the USATF Cross Country Championship. Veronica Noguer, Donna Gookin, and Dorothy Strand took 2nd, 3rd, and 5th respectively at the 8K in Brea.
Herr 100 Kusner 100 Noguer 95 Gookin 90 Bost 85 Strand 80.


M40. In 2015 Greg Mitchell took the GP crown on the basis of three gold medal and two silver medal efforts in his 5 Championship races. John Gardiner pressed him all the way with 2 silver medals, a bronze medal and two 4th place finishes in his best 5 races. Philippe Rolly, Jacques Salberg, and Clint Wells were tightly bunched for the next 3 spots in the GPP contest. Rolly’s 2 golds and a silver at the 5 k Cross Country, the 12K at Alexandria and the 5K at Syracuse netted him the bronze award in the GP. Salberg was right behind with a gold a silver and a 4th place finish in his 3 events. Wells had a gold, a bronze and a 5th place finish to close out the top 5. Others who earned Certificates included: Volker Bukowski, Kareem Lanier, Kyle Lanier, and Brent Fields.

So far in 2016 there are some familiar faces in the lead although no one yet has the 3 races needed to qualify for an end-of-year award. Greg Mitchell leads the way with a gold medal at Brea and a silver medal at Bend. Jacques Salberg is in 2nd with a gold medal at Bend and a bronze at Brea. A new face, Danny Goodman, follows with a silver medal effort in the 10K at Dedham and an 8th place at the USATF Cross Country Championship in Bend. John Gardiner was banged up at the start of the year but still managed a 10th place at Bend and, as his rehab efforts took effect, a 4th place at Brea. Gardiner is the only one from this group entered in the Half Marathon Championships so he should move up. Brent Fields has shown some potential with a 6th in Brea and a 9th in Dedham. Newcomer to the Masters ranks, Aaron Totten-Lancaster, won the age group in Dedham. If he competes in a few more races for the Atlanta TC he could be a factor for the Grand prix podium
Mitchell 195 Salberg 190 Goodman 160 Gardiner 140 Fields 135 Totten-Lancaster 100.
Jacques Salberg (leading) with Greg Mitchell (2nd in sunglasses) at the USATF Cross Country Championship at Bend Oregon--Salberg 2nd place- in 2016 USATF Individual GP M40 Standings--Mitchell 1st place- in 2016 USATF Individual GP M40 Standings

M45. Last year it was a tight battle between Cal Coast teammates, Christian ‘Cush’ Cushing-Murray and Jerome Vermeulen. Vermeulen got off to a strong start with strong showings at the USATF 8 km XC Championships and the Brea 8K Road Championship, building a 75 point lead but Cushing-Murray started to close the gap with a win in the Half Marathon. After Vermeulen got some of those points back at Flint with a win to Cushing-Murray’s 4th place, Cush came on strong to close it out with a win at Tulsa and a 3rd at Club XC in San Francisco. In the end, just 5 points separated the two with Cush taking 1st and Vermeulen 2nd in the GP. Despite winning at Dedham and Alexandria, Kristian Blaich had to settle for 3rd. His teammates, Matthew Whitis and Brad Slavens took 4th and 5th.

This year Cushing-Murray is off to a stronger start with Silver at Bend and Gold at Brea. He is entered at Brea; if that race goes as well as last year’s, he will stretch his lead. Vermeulen only has one race in so far, a 3rd place finish at Brea. He too is entered in the Half Marathon so has a chance to narrow Cush’s lead. Jonathan May is currently in 2nd place due to competing at both Bend and Brea. If Rusty Snow or Mark Andrews decide to compete in a few more races, their firsts as Bend and Dedham suggest they could be formidable opponents.  And the same is true for 2nd place winners at Brea and Dedham, Andrew Duncan and Peter Hammer. Slavens is back in 20th with only a 7th place at Dedham to his credit this year; Whitis is further back.
Cushing-Murray 195 May 110 Andrews 100 Snow 100 Duncan 95 Hammer 95.

Christian Cushing-Murray cruising to an M45 Gold Medal in the 8K at Brea California--1st place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M45 Standings [Photo: Leon Laub-Facebook posting]

Mark Andrews leading Peter Hammer as they head to the finish line at the USATF 10K Championship at Dedham--Andrews tied for 3rd and hammer in 5th place-- in 2016 USATF Individual GP M45 Standings

M50. In 2015, Francis Burdett got off to a terrific start with wins at Boulder and Brea and then had to hold on as Nat Larson, his fellow runner from the Bay State,  came on strong with wins at Syracuse and Tulsa and third place finishes at Dedham and Saratoga. Burdett took 1st with a 5 point bulge over Larson. Twenty points back was Mike Nier with his win at Flint, his 2nd place finish at Syracuse and strong showings at several other races. A hotly contested division, only 45 points separated 4th through 7th. Ruben Henderson anchored his 4th place showing in the GP with a Silver medal at Flint, a 4th place finish at  Syracuse and strong showings in several other races. Alan Evans used a bronze medal finish at Alexandria along with a 4th at Dedham and a 5th at Syracuse to net his GP 5th, only 5 points back from Henderson. Rob Arsenault had a 2nd at Tulsa and strong showings otherwise to finish 10 points back of Evans, 6th in the GP. Spyros Barres only competed in three events, taking two firsts and a second, to capture the 7th spot in the GP.

This year Carl Combs had the kind of start that Burdett had last year, taking 1st at Bend and Brea. But he does not expect to be able to travel to many more championships this year so will probably fade in the GP standings as the year continues. Arsenault, in his first full year in the M50 division, took bronze medals at Bend and Brea, getting a small lead on Burdett who took 5th at Brea and 3rd at Dedham. The three Cal Coast teammates of Arsenault, Jeff Ambos, Andy DiConti, and Thomas Schumann have the next 3 GP spots on the basis of strong showings at Bend and Brea. Nat Larson is on the board with a silver medal at Dedham but he may have a harder time finding enough races this year. If he gets in 4-5 races, he will definitely be a factor. Mike Nier and Alan Evans have been injured but Nier was healthy enough to net an 8th place finish at Dedham to lie in 21st place. No doubt both will move up as their rehab efforts start to bear fruit.
Combs 200 R. Arsenault 180 Burdett 170 Ambos 160  DiConti 125 Schumann 120.

Carl Combs leading Christian Cushing-Murray on an early lap at the USATF Cross Country Championship at Bend Oregon--Combs--1st place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M50 Standings

Rob Arsenault heading for Bronze at the USATF 8K in Brea--2nd place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M50 Standings [Photo: Leon Laub-Facebook posting]

M55. Last year Brian Pilcher , coming off his 2014 rehab year, got off to a terrific start with  2nd place finishes at Boulder, Dedham, and San Diego, and a win at Brea. But then disaster struck as he reinjured his hamstring at the World Masters Athletics Championships at Lyon France. He would not run another race and his lead gradually faded as both Dave Bussard and Antonio Arreola caught him in November with their 1st and 2nd place finish respectively at Alexandria. Bussard also had wins at Flint, Syracuse and Tulsa to take the GP 1st with 55 points to spare. Arreola got the silver medal at Flint and Tulsa, coupling that with strong performances at 3 other races to claim the GP 2nd place by 45 points over Pilcher’s 3rd place effort. Thomas Dever, Gary Radford, and Ken Youngers claimed 4th GP through 6th. Dever won the Marathon and had strong showings at three other races. Bradford had a bronze medal at Tulsa and strong showings at 5 other races. Youngers battled injuries off and on but still managed a 4th place finish at Dedham and Syracuse along with a good showing at two other races.

It has been a bit different in 2016 although Pilcher’s start has been similar to 2015, albeit a bit slower at first. Pilcher did not make the XC race at Bend but had a 3rd at Brea and a 2nd at Dedham so he is moving in the right direction. That gives him enough for 2nd place in the GP behind Michael Gorriaran who won at Bend and surprised a few by traveling to Dedham to take the Bronze medal. That suggests Gorriaran may travel enough this year to be a factor in the GP contest. Radford has started more strongly than last year, in the hunt with 4th place finishes at Bend and Dedham. John Abrami and James Adams have also started off with strong performances at Bend and Brea but will they compete in any further events? A similar doubt persists about two other runners who would be serious GP competitors, Ray Knerr, who won the 8K at Brea, and Mark Reeder, who won the 10K at Dedham. William ‘Hugh’ Enicks is currently in 9th place thanks to his 2nd place at Brea. But he is entered in the Half Marathon so should move up. Enicks prefers the longer races so we may see him in the 15K later this year. If he also picks out a couple of shorter runs either on the roads or over the cross country paths, he could be a factor later.
Gorriaran 190 Pilcher 185 Radford 170 Abrami 140 Adams 120.

Michael Gorriaran racing for the Gold Medal at the USATF Cross Country Championship at bend Oregon--1st Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M55 Standings  

Brian Pilcher taking Silver at the 10K Championship at Dedham as he rounds back into shape--Pilcher 2nd  Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M55 Standings

M60. In 2015 Tom Bernhard started off modestly with just a bronze medal at Brea, behind the indomitable duo, Rick Becker and Tom McCormack, to show for his efforts in the first half of the season but shortly thereafter, McCormack sustained an injury that kept him out the rest of the year and Rick becker was tied down in the fall by coaching duties. Bernhard left nothing to chance, taking firsts at Flint, Syracuse, and Tulsa before Becker returned at Alexandria to drop Bernhard to 2nd place. Bernhard’s closest GP rivals were Reno Stirrat, Mark Rybinski, and John Victoria. That group battled head to head several times with Bernhard invariably prevailing on the roads but having a tougher time on the cross country trails. Stirrat took the gold medal at the 5 km XC and earned bronzes at Syracuse and Alexandria. Rybinski also ran strong in the 2nd half of the GP tour, capturing silver at Flint and bronze medals at Saratoga Springs, Tulsa and at Club XC. Victoria captured Silver medals at Boulder, Syracuse and Tulsa on his way to a 4th place GP finish. Becker made 4 races and took the gold at each one. But 400 points was only good enough for 5th in this group. Peter Mullin and Doug Bell who were aging up into M65 at the very end of the year, finished in 6th and 7th.

At the start of 2015 it did not look too different (except for the movement of Mullin and Bell out of the age group). McCormack is still injured. Becker still seems to be the fastest in the group but will have the same problem of coaching duties in the fall. Nonetheless he was intent on getting in as many races as he could and went 3 for 3, taking Gold at Bend, Brea, and Dedham. That gives him the early lead. Bernhard can still light up the roads in terms of age grading when he races but he only raced once and collected the Silver medal at Brea behind Becker. Victoria’s injury at the end of 2015 continued to keep him away from races in the first half of the season. Rybinski was also banged up at the start of the year but did make an appearance running for his team and collected a Silver medal for his efforts. That has opened things up for Heath Hibbard who competed in XC last year but not on the roads. He collected Bronze at Bend, a 4th place at Dedham and 7th at Brea.  Stirrat is off to a good start with a Bronze at Dedham and a 4th place at Brea. Californians Keith Witthauer and John Holcomb gained some good points with strong races at Bend and Brea but if past years are a guide, we may not see them at another Championship this year.
Becker 300 Hibbard 245 Stirrat 175 Witthauer 155 Holcomb 150.

Rick Becker heading for Gold at the 10K Championship in Dedham--1st Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M60 Standings

Heath Hibbard cranks his way to a Bronze Medal at the USATF XC Championship at Bend--2nd Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M60 Standings
M65. In 2015 it was a tight race with only 25 points separating the top three competitors. Lloyd Hansen took the title but needed wins at Tulsa and Alexandria to close the door on Doc Rappole and Jerry Learned.  Rappole took gold medals at Boulder and Flint, followed up by a bronze at Syracuse. Fourth place finishes at the two fall XC racers did not give him enough to hold off Hansen’s late charge but did keep him ahead of Learned. Learned took Silver Medals at Flint and Tulsa and added Bronze medals at Dedham and Alexandria. Michael Reif and Douglas Wood took 4th and 5th. William Dixon only ran 3 races but captured Gold at Syracuse and Saratoga Springs, settling for Silver at Club XC. Doug Winn sent a signal that he might contend for a GP title in 2016 by taking the Club XC title at the end of the year.

Minor health issues and family concerns have kept Hansen away from the circuit so far this year. In his absence, Learned and Winn are at the top of the table. Learned took Bronze at Bend and added a 5th at Brea and an 8th place at Dedham. Winn has firsts at Bend and Dedham to claim the 2nd position at this stage. Just behind Winn is Doug Bell who was nursing an injury at Bend but took Gold at Brea and Silver at Dedham. Ignacio Jimenez took Silver Medals at both Bend and brea but he rarely competes off the West Coast. Peter Mullin who, like Bell, moved up to M65 this year, has two Bronze medal efforts, at Brea and Dedham to his credit. Dixon is back in 7th with his 4th place finish at Dedham and Rappole even further back in 10th. Reif is mired, at the moment, in 20th but will be climbing up the ladder as the season rolls on.
Learned 235 Winn 200 Bell 195 Jimenez 190 Mullin 180.

Doug Bell (2nd from left) and Heath Hibbard (center) and Jan Frisby (far right) with their Boulder Road Runner teammates after  a successful outing at the 10K in Dedham--Bell--3rd place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M65 Standings--Hibbard--2nd Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M60 Standings and Frisby--3rd Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M70 Standings

Jerry Learned leading a pack around the course at the USATF XC Championship at Bend Oregon--1st Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M65 Standings
Doug Winn heading for a win at the USATF XC Championship at Bend--2nd Place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M65 Standings

M70. In 2015 Jan Frisby won everything in sight over the first half of the season, taking 1sts at Boulder, Brea, Dedham and San Diego. Then some old injuries started to reassert themselves at the same time perennial Age Group Runner of the Year, Doug Goodhue, came off of rehab. That relegated Frisby to 2nd at Flint and then at Syracuse, Frisby’s Achilles tore loose halfway through the race so he had to settle for the points accumulated in the first 5 races as he did not race again that year. It looked like Goodhue might be the one to take the GP again as he did in 2014. But his return from rehab was only temporary as he aggravated his injury in Syracuse, took some time off, tried to come back at Alexandria but could not match his usual performance. In the meantime, Przemyslaw ‘Przemek’ Nowicki, was steadily accumulating points. His big push came with Silver Medals at Syracuse and Saratoga Springs and then hard won Gold Medals at Tulsa and Alexandria. That was not quite enough to catch Frisby who , at the end of the year, had a 15 point margin of victory in the GP. The third spot went to Paul Carlin (yours truly) who was in rehab off and on for the whole year but surfaced at Brea to claim 6th place and at Flint to take 5th. He finished stronger, though, after turning 70, with 2nd place finishes at Tulsa and Alexandria. The next few places went to guys who run primarily for their teams and are happy with any individual honors that come their way. Ed Bligh finished 6th at Boulder and 7th at Syracuse and Alexandria; Morris Williams captured a 4th at flint and a 6th at Alexandria; Monte Piliawsky had a 5th at Flint and a 6th at Brea and Syracuse.

At the beginning of 2015 Doug  Goodhue was still nursing his injuries from the previous year.  Jan Frisby was pretty much over his injury but he had taken too much time off from running so hit fitness was off. But he started showing up for his team early on, picking up a 4th place finish at both Brea and Dedham, to claim 3rd in the current GP standings. Gary Patton, who has been known primarily as a middle distance runner on the track, decided to try his hand at a number of long distance races this year. He is off to a terrific start and will be tough to beat. He has a Gold Medal from Bend and Silver medals at Brea and Dedham.  He intends to run the Mile Road Race at Flint and the 5K at Syracuse. If healthy he will be the favorite at Flint regardless of who else runs and will at least be co-favorite in Syracuse. He is only ten points ahead of Carlin (me!) who got off to a pretty good start as well with Bronze medals at Bend and Brea and a Gold at Dedham.  The one thing working in Carlin’s favor is that he has been improving at each race after coming back from a long battle with a hamstring injury in 2015. Nowicki, who finished up so strongly in 2015, got off to a slower start this year with just a Bronze medal at Dedham; he is currently in 6th place in the GP. The two runners currently ahead of him will not be there long. Len Goldman took the Gold medal at Brea and Paul Caisse took Silver at Bend but neither is expected to compete at many Championships this year. Williams and Bligh are in 7th and 10th place with one race on the books for each. Piliawsky is still rehabbing a hamstring injury and has no appearances yet this year.
Patton 290 Carlin 280 Frisby 170 Goldman 100 Caisse 95 Nowicki 90

Gary Patton (L), Len Goldman (C), Paul Carlin (R)--Silver, Gold and Bronze Medal winners at Brea respectively--Patton-1st Place, Goldman 4th place, and Carlin 2nd place-in 2016 USATF Individual GP M70 Standings [photo: Paul Carlin]

M75. In 2015 Roland Cormier took the GP title by a wide margin. He won Silver or Bronze medals at 6 different races. Ron Mastin bested Cormier in their two head-to-head contests at Syracuse and Saratoga Springs but only completed 4 races, leaving him short of Cormier’s total. Thom Weddle earned Bronze medals at Boulder and Syracuse and took 4th place at Saratoga Springs. Al Swan completed three races, including a 6th place finish at Syracuse, and that was enough to net a 3rd place in the GP.

So far in 2016 Mastin has the jump on Cormier with Gold Medals at Bend and Dedham. Cormier has not yet raced. Andrew Sherwood has a Silver Medal at Bend and a 4th place finish at Dedham. Hans Schmid’s win at Brea is enough for 3rd place in the standings and Larry Brooks’s 2nd place in the same race leaves him currently in 4th place. Schmid is entered in the Half Marathon at San Diego and if all goes well, he will be higher up in the mix after it is done. Harry Carter’s Silver Medal at Dedham puts him in 5th right now.  Swan is in 10th place in the GP with a 5th at Dedham; if he runs a few more events he will likely move up.
Mastin 200 Sherwood 180 Schmid 100 Brooks 95 Carter 95

Morris Williams (L) and Ron Mastin (C) pressing one of the younger runners in an early loop at the USATF XC Championship in Bend Oregon--Mastin 1st place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M75 Standings

Hans Schmid (L) enjoys his Gold Medal finish after the 8K Championship at Brea--3rd place in 2016 USATF Individual GP M75 Standings [photo: Paul Carlin]
 M80. Although 13 different runners competed in M80 Championships in 2015 in events from the 5K to the Marathon, none completed the 3 events required for a GP Award. So far in 2016 no one has completed more than 1 race. Bill Dodson and Bill Spencer are tied for 1st as Dodson took Brea and Spencer took Gold at Dedham. Jim Askew and Richard Williams are tied for 3rd with Silver Medals at Dedham and Bend respectively. But so far it does not appear that 2016 will be any different from 2015. Most likely no one will qualify for a GP win.

Bill Dodson (L) enjoys his hard earned Gold Medal at the USATF 8K Awards Ceremony at Brea--Dodson tied for 1st-- in 2016 USATF Individual GP M80 Standings [photo: Paul Carlin]

M85. In 2015 four different runners competed in the M85 class but none had more than 1 race. So far this year Gunnar Linde who won the 8K at Brea last year has won it again. Last year two Colorado runners competed in this age group at the USATF XC Championship at Boulder but no one from the age group competed in the XC Championship at Bend this year.

That's where we are at this stage. We'll check in again after the One Mile Road Race in Flint Michigan in late August to see how that race and the Half Marathon in San Diego this coming weekend affect the standings. That should set us up for the thrilling finish to these Grand prix contests as they unfold over the 5K, 15K, 5k XC and Club XC in the fall.

Photo Credits where not identified in caption: A heartfelt thanks to Mike Scott for the great photos of the USATF XC Championships at Bend Oregon--miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com and to Scott Mason for the excellent photos at Dedham--http://www.scottmasonphoto.com/.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Report on 2016 Masters Club Grand Prix Races

May 2016. We are in high Spring in Central Indiana; the grass has been mowed a few times, the hanging baskets of impatiens and begonia plants have been hung, the hummingbirds have appeared, and the raspberry patch weeded. We ate our first home-grown strawberry this week. It must be time for the first report on the Masters Grand Prix Standings. We've been to the USATF Masters XC Championship in Bend OR, the 8K Championship in Brea CA and the 10K Championship in Dedham MA; the next race is the Half Marathon in San Diego. The standings still have a large West Coast flavor but there is now a little taste of the East Coast (and Middle America).


Women 40+. In 2015 this category was taken by the Genesee Valley Harriers [GVH] out of Greater Rochester NY, with the Jane's Elite from Southern California in second place.This year Santa Barbara Running and Racing ran at both Bend and Brea, winning both events giving them  a solid lead. Perhaps that signals their intention to run at least one more race, perhaps the Half Marathon at San Diego and/or the Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds. They could certainly give GVH a run for their money.
The Santa Barbara Running and Racing 40+ team with their Team 1st place Award for the USATF 8K Masters Championship at Brea CA [FB photo by C. Abrami]

In the meantime the Atlanta Track Club sent a strong team to the 10K in Dedham and took home 100 points to take over 2nd place.

Team Red Lizard (Portland) the Jane's Elite (So Cal), and the Western Mass Distance Project are tied for 3rdd with 90 points, as each took Team Silver at the one race they have entered so far, Bend for Red Lizard, Brea for the Jane's, and Dedham for the WMDP. Cal Coast TC is hot on their heels in 4th, 10 points back, along with GVH, the 3rd place team at Dedham.
Santa Barbara Running and Racing 200 Atlanta Track Club 100 Jane's Elite 90 Team Red Lizard 90 Western Mass Distance Project  90 Cal Coast Track Club 80 Genesee Valley Harriers 80.
The Jane's Elite 40+ team after the USATF 8K Championship race at Brea.

Women 50+. In 2015 the Athena Track Club (Pennsylvania) and the Genesee Valley Harriers were 1-2, with the B team of Athena in 3rd. There were no teams from this category contesting the 2016 XC championship at Bend. The three teams from Southern California who finished in the top spots at the 8K and the East Coast teams who took top 3 at the 10K share the lead. A Snail's Pace Running Club, Team Runners High, and the Club Ed Running took 1-2-3 in Brea and the Willow Street AC (Greater Albany NY), the Athena TC, and the Atlanta TC were 1-2-3 in Dedham. GVH is settled in 8th place but I expect them to rise as the season progresses.

A Snail's Pace Running Club 100 Willow Street AC 100 Athena TC 90 Team Runners High 90 Atlanta TC 80 Club Ed Running 80.
Runners from the Atlanta Track Club's 40+ and 50+ teams enjoying their medals after the USATF 10 K Championship

Women 60+. Last year GVH took first with 470 points; the Impala Racing team from the San Francisco Bay area finished second with 300 points. The Impala team finished first at Brea and at Club Cross in San Francisco and traveled east to race and win the 5 KM XC at Saratoga Springs.

So far in 2016 Impala has the lead with three first place finishes in three tries, at Bend,  Brea, and Dedham. Starting the season off with 300 points is certainly firing a warning shot at GVH. As they apparently also intend to compete in San Diego they will likely add to their lead. If they travel east for the 5 km XC, as they did last year, they will surely be the favorite for the gold medal, even over GVH. The Southern California club, A Snail's Pace has their points from a 2nd place at Brea and the Central Mass Striders took 2nd at Dedham. The AtlantaTrack Club took 3rd at Dedham and sits in 4th. The GVH team is not on the board this year. I expected to see them at the 10K Championships but they did not enter. I hope this is just a temporary absence and we will see them competing strongly in the second half of the year. The Impala team already has the required 3 races in to qualify for end of the year awards. Impala Racing 300 Central Mass Striders 90 A Snail's Pace Runnning Club 90 Atlanta TC 80.
Runners on the Impala  Racing 60+ team with their Awards after the USATF 10K Championship

Women 70+. A Snail's Pace entered a W70 team this year in the USATF 8K Championship at Brea. That gives them the early lead. Last year no teams in this category made the minimum 3 races required to qualify for prizes. Will any W70 teams have greater Grand Prix aspirations this year? There is no sign of it so far. A Snail's Pace 100.

Men 40+. In 2015 the Atlanta Track Club and the Cal Coast Track Club battled all year with Atlanta pulling away with a second place at the 12K Championships in November and coming in ahead of Cal Coast at Club Cross in December. Pennsylvania's TNT International took third.

This year Cal Coast has 180 points in the books already with a 3rd place at Bend and a 1st at Brea, 10 more points than their total last year at this time. Atlanta's Kristian Blaich missed Brea with an illness and then his hip flexor acted up to keep him away from Dedham as well. So a weakened Atlanta team is still in 2nd but the 4th in Brea and the 3rd in Dedham were not what they were hoping for at the start of the season.  It will be interesting to see which races Cal Coast and Atlanta choose to compete in. Last year they went head-to-head at the 15K in Tulsa and at Club XC with Cal Coast coming in ahead at Tulsa and Atlanta at Club Cross. So far Cal Coast has the edge with the superior finish at Brea. Another wrinkle is that Blaich turns 50 this year. Will he continue to compete on the M40+ team or will he sometimes join the M50+ group in the second half of the year?

It should be a fascinating race between Cal Coast and Atlanta again this year.

The powerful Bowerman Track Club from Oregon won the USA XC Championship at Bend but in recent years they have only competed for the Club Grand Prix  at that race and Club XC. If that continues to be the case, they are no threat as they would not have the minimum number of events to contest the Grand Prix. That is also true of the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) team which won the 10K at Dedham. They are tied for third but are unlikely to be there at the end of the year. The Central Mass Striders, the Santa Barbara Running and Racing Club, and A Snail's Pace Running Club took 3rd in Dedham, Bend, and Brea respectively. But none of those teams have been inclined to travel enough out of their area to really contest the Club GP. TNT, who has been willing to travel a bit, took 6th at Dedham so is on the board with 55 points.
Cal Coast Track Club 180 Atlanta Track Club 150 Boston Athletic Association 100 Bowerman Track Club 100 Central Mass Striders 90 Santa Barbara Running and Racing 90 A Snail's Pace Running Club 90.
Cal Coast TC 40+ Team Enjoying Their USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic [photo-Paul Carlin]

M50+. Last year this was the most hotly contested division. The Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH) and the Playmakers Elite/New Balance teams wound up with 470 points each. Playmakers Elite had the tie breaker due to better head-to-head performances at Flint, Syracuse, Alexandria and San Francisco with GVH prevailing at Boulder. The Atlanta Track Club finished in 3rd with the Cal Coast Track Club not far back in 4th.

 This year Cal Coast has taken the early lead with wins at Bend and Brea. The Bowerman Track Club took 2nd at Brea but they have not been inclined to participate in Championship Road Races so are unlikely to contend for the GP Championship. At Dedham it was the Greater Springfield Harriers (GSH) taking first place points. That may not be very important in the GP race unless GSH is more inclined to travel as a Team than they were last year. Perhaps more significant is the fact that GVH is now on the board, finishing 2nd. The Atlanta Track Club which may also contend, finished in 4th. Atlanta missed Ken Youngers who has been one of the mainstays of the 50+ team in recent years, but ran into injury problems last year. If he can return to action healthy it will help Atlanta's chances.If the Playmakers Elite are going to contend again this year, they will need to make Flint, Syracuse, Tallahassee (October), Tulsa and Tallahassee (December) count; there will likely be little room for error.

Atlanta will be an interesting club to follow this year. Youngers, like Blaich, will transition up to the next age group later this year. Will he run with the 50+ team or the 60+ team in the fall? There are a lot of moving parts for Atlanta. If Blaich moves up to the 50+ team and Youngers stays, that gives them a powerful 50+ team. But if Blaich stays with the 40+ team then perhaps Youngers would move up in the fall and give Atlanta a more powerful 60+ team. It will also depend on exactly who is running for the Atlanta 60+ team (see below). Rob Arsenault of Cal Coast has indicated their intent to contest at least five M50+ events this year. They have two wins in the books; if they contest and win 3 more, they are guaranteed of at least a tie for 1st. But that's a tall order. Playmakers and GVH both return the same strong crew from last year so they should make a run at the GP win again. Last year Playmakers came on strong in the second half of the season and perhaps that is their plan again. And all of these teams are on the lookout for talent so one never knows when a team might show up with a speedy new runner. Cal Coast TC 200 Greater Springfield Harriers 100 Bowerman TC 90 Cal Coast 'B' 90 GVH 90 Dirigo RC 80 Atlanta TC 70
Cal Coast TC 50+ Team After their Win at the USATF 8K Championship [Photo-Paul Carlin]
M60+. Last year the Boulder Road Runners, the Genesee Valley Harriers and the Ann Arbor Track Club had a terrific contest. The Boulder Road Runners came out on top in a very close contest. Ann Arbor was very banged up over the second half of the season so faded from contention as the Shore Athletic Club almost caught them for 3rd. Boulder edged GVH 470 to 460 to take the GP Team 1st.

Although somewhat banged up, Boulder, even without John Victoria, is nonetheless in front with a 2nd at Bend, a 3rd at Brea and a win at Dedham. But Cal Coast is not far behind due to wins at Bend and Brea. GVH is 3rd in the Club GP 60+ race due to a 3rd at Bend, with Mark Rybinski not at his best, and a 4th at Dedham, without Rybinski.  Cal Coast 'B' and the Shore AC took 2nds at the 8K and 10K respectively to tie for 4th in the GP race at this point. Ann Arbor and the Atlanta TC are far below the strength they had in 2014 but are at least on the board with a 5th and 6th place finish respectively at Dedham. The Boulder RR team already has the 3 races they need to qualify for an end of the year award.
Boulder Road Runners 270 Cal Coast TC 200 GVH 150 Cal Coast TC 'B' 90 Shore AC 90
Boulder Road Runners 60+ Team After Their Victory at Dedham this Year

M70+. Last year it was a close battle all the way with  the Shore AC pulling away with victories at the 5 KM XC, the 15K and the 12K Championships. The Atlanta Track Club was only 30 points back at the end of the year, followed by the Ann Arbor Track Club in third.

The Atlanta TC got the early jump this year with a first at Bend and a third at Dedham. One of their main rivals, Shore AC got on the board with a 2nd at Dedham. But the Ann Arbor TC will not make its debut until the San Diego Half Marathon in June. Doug Goodhue, Ann Arbor's leader the last two years and his reliable 2nd runner, Monte Piliawsky, have been too banged up to compete. So even though they have added a couple of strong runners, they could not mount a challenge at Dedham. The Tamalpa Runners, from the San Francisco Bay area, took 1st at Brea with their powerful 1-2 punch of Len Goldman and Hans Schmid. They have entered a team at San Diego so it is possible they will get enough races in to qualify for an award at the end of the year. But it is unlikely they will compete in enough races to seriously contend for a top GP medal. Club Ed Running took a 2nd at Brea but they are even less likely to compete in other USATF Championship races.
Atlanta TC 180 Tamalpa Runners 100 Club Ed Running 90 Shore AC 90 Florida Track Club/West 80.

M80+. No teams competed and finished in 3 events, the minimum needed to qualify for awards. That is likely to be the case again this year. The San Diego Track Club fielded an 80+ team at Brea and they took first. They are the leader but need 2 more finishes before they qualify for a GP Award.
San Diego Track Club 100.

Next up will be the first 2016 report on the Individual Grand Prix contests.