Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 USATF Cross Country Championshi[ps-Preview-Age Divisions and Teams

January 31 2019 Here are my previews for the Age Division and Team National Championship Masters races at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee Florida this Saturday, February 2nd. The weather forecast is still holding at cloudy and mid-50's with moderate winds, 6 to 7 mph and a small chance of rain. The Men's 8Km race starts things off at 9:15 AM; the Women's 6 Km race is at 10:15 AM. [Junior and Open races follow later in the day.]

40-44. David Angell and Jacques Salberg will go head-to-head for 1-2 again after finishing 3rd and 6th at Club XC in Spokane 28 seconds apart. Angell had a minor injury last year but still managed to finish 4th at these Championships in 27:50. Sallberg won these Championships three times in a row, in 2015 in Boulder and in 2016 and 2017 in Bend OR. He will try to rekindle the magic on Saturday. Third place may well come down to a race between Josh Harter and Paul Jones. Harter has a recent 16:55 5K and a 35:33 10K while Jones has 26:36 8K and a 35:02 10K.
David Angell     Jacques Sallberg     Paul Jones

45-49 John Gardiner, who finished 10th overall at Spokane in 33:51 is the strong favorite to take this age group. His toughest challenge should come from Greg Putnam who last went up against Gardiner at Club XC in Lexington KY, where Gardiner had the edge by a minute. Putnam ran 27:56 in a Hangover 5 Miler on New Year's Day, age-grade equivalent to a 17:08 5K. But he will have to  see off Atlanta Teammates, Brian Sydow and Brent Fields. Sydow clocked 35:58 to notch 20th in Spokane with Fields a half minute back. Sydow ran 16:39 in his Resolution Run 5K on New Years. Fields finished 4th here last year and was a half minute back from Putnam att he 10K Championships in Dedham.
John Gardiner     Greg Putnam     Brian Sydow

50-54 Kent Lemme and Christian Cushing-Murray went 1-2 in this division last year in 27:36 and 27:51 and will likely do so again this year. The only question is whether the order will be the same. Lemme was off his game in Spokane where Cushing-Murray finished a minute ahead of him. Lemme is coming to Tallahassee even though his team will not contest the event. That suggests he has shaken whatever held him back in Spokane. Of course, he may also just love to compete against the toughest in the country. It should be quite a race if Lemme is on the starting line come Saturday! Cush's teammate, Rob Arsenault is back. He last competed XC in Lexington where he finished 17th in 36:04. He appeared to be back on his game by May 2018 when he ran 17:12 in a 5K but then nothing since then. It is good to have him back even if he might not be back to full fitness. Matthew Farley, who finished 6th overall and 1st M45 at these Championships in 2017 in Bend in 29:02 would ordinarily be competing for the podium. But his result at Club XC in Spokane, 39:07 to finish 40th in the division, raises questions. Was that a one-off problem or indicative of an injury. If Farley is not up to competing for a podium finish, Dean Thompson will be. He took 14th in Spokane in 36:50. Mike Nier can also contend. He ran 20 seconds slower than Thompson at Club XC in December but had not fully recovered from the hamstring injury that slowed him in the fall. 
Christian Cushing-Murray     Kent Lemme     Dean Thompson

55-59 Nat Larson ran 27:39 to finish 3rd overall last year and win the division. At Spokane, he claimed the division victory in the 10 Km race in 35:01 by a minute over Tony Young. No one seems likely to challenge Larson's supremacy. Mike Blackmore ran 37:32 to take 7th in the division at Spokane. Atlanta Track Club teammates, Gary Droze and Gregory Oshust finished 3rd and 4th in the 5K Championships in Atlanta in 18:16 and 18:36.
Nat Larson     Mike Blackmore     Gary Droze

60-64 This is the largest field by far in the Masters races and, arguably, the toughest. Joe Sheeran has the target on his back. He won the 60+ Club XC Championship in Lexington KY when his main rival, Roger Sayre was in his last M55 year. At Spokane two months ago, he defeated Sayre by a half minute as they came in 1-2 in the 60+ race. Sayre beat Sheeran twice on the roads this year, at 8K and 5K, but is still looking for his first national 60+ XC Championship victory over him. Atlanta teammates, Ken Youngers and Mike Anderson finished 2nd and 3rd here last year in 30:51 and 31:55. Youngers finished 8th in Spokane, nd Anderson 15th. When Club XC was in Tallahassee in 2016, Dan Spale and Mark Rybinski finished 3rd and 4th. They have since struggled with injury and come back. Spale is more competitive right now; he clocked 31:23 for 10th place in the division at Spokane.
Joe Sheeran     Roger Sayre      Ken Youngers

65-69 Last year Chuck Smead took 2nd in 33:46; Kirk Larson was 4 seconds back in 3rd. In their most recent meeting, Larson took the honors over the hilly 15K Tulsa National Masters Championship course by 17 seconds. No doubt it will be another close one! Ignacio 'Nash' Jimenez returns to these championships after skipping last year. He took 2nd at Boulder in 2015, 2nd at Bend in 2016 and won at Bend in 2017. He would love to land on the podium again in his final year in the division. I can find no recent results so we will have to go by history. Jerry Orange is another runner who is back on the scene. He finished 2nd at Tulsa in 2013 in 1:00:48, and took 5th at the 5Km Masters XC Championships the following years. His recent 5Ks have been in the 20:30 to 21:15 range; he just won the 65-69 division of the Naples HM in 1:38:00.6.
Chuck Smead     Kirk Larson     Ignacio Jimenez

70-74 Rick Katz and Lloyd Hansen have battled each other pretty close in the last two XC contests. Katz took the honors both times, by 29 seconds at the 5KM Masters XC in Buffalo and by 5 seconds in Spokane. Until Hansen beats him on the turf, Katz is the favorite. Jerry Learned was the closest to those two at both Club XC in Spokane and at the 5 Km XC in Buffalo, finishing only 6 seconds back from Hansen. Dave Glass, who finished another 8 seconds back in Buffalo had some injury problems later in the year, and was further back at the 15K in Tulsa and at Club XC in Spokane. Doc Rappole and Jim May will try to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Rappole won the division at Boulder in 2015 but has had off and on years since. They were 14 and 22 seconds behind Glass in Buffalo. Both have the capability to move up rapidly if they can stay healthy for a few months of good training.
Rick Katz     Lloyd Hansen     Jerry Learned

75-79 This is an all Atlanta Track Club affair and they will definitely be happy with their team victory. Most likely they will sort the podium among themselves with David Turner and Ed Bligh likely to take 1-2 as they took 3-4 last year. Andrew Sherwood is the favorite for 3rd.
David Turner     Ed Bligh     Andrew Sherwood

80-84 John Elliott had to contend with competitors at Buffalo when he took the division Championship in the 5K. This time he has no such inconvenience. Unopposed, he can focus on enjoying the race and seeing how many younger athletes he can beat. In Buffalo, his 30:20 was faster than three younger athletes.
John Elliott


40-44. Jill Braley, who finished 2nd to Sonja Friend-Uhl at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in Buffalo in 19:42 appears to be the favorite. She has also run road 5Ks in the 19:30-19:45 range. Her toughest challenge should come from Laura Bosley, a 3-time All American at UW-Parkside in her day. Bosley has a recent 42:13 10K which is age-grade equivalent to a 20:29 5K, and a 31:52 8K, equivalent to a 19:32. That puts her in Braley’s class if she can transfer that to the XC turf. Kathy Wiegand and Sarah Barber should battle for the remaining podium spot. Wiegand ran 20:29 in the 5K Championships in Atlanta and took 3rd in the Road Mile Championship in Flint in 6:01. Weigand finished 10th in the division at the 6 Km race at 2017 Club XC in Lexington KY in 24:03 Barber, in contrast, has a 20:40 5K in October, a 32:36 5Miler [age-grade equivalent to a 19:51 5K] and clocked 24:13 in finishing 19th in the division in Spokane. Laura Webb ran 1:07:34 at the 2017 15K Championship to finish 3rd in the age division. That 15K performance and her half marathon times in the 1:38 to 1:39 range suggest a road equivalent time for 5K of 21:30 to 22:00., not far off of Barber and Wiegand. 

Jill Braley      Laura Bosley     Kathy Wiegand      Sarah Barber

45-49. If healthy, Jennifer Bayliss should defend her division crown with ease. Not only did she win in Tallahassee in February with a 22:15 over 6Km, she also took the title at the Masters 10K in Dedham in April with a 37:19. Her third podium of the year came in the 5K with a 18:09 effort. But what is one to make of a 20:15 in a Turkey Trot 5K, bookend 43+ and 49+ 10K’s on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, followed by a 40+ in the Hot Chocolate 5K in San Francisco on January 13—just having fun, just running with a friend or relative? Or is there an injury problem hiding in there? We will find out on Saturday. Should Bayliss be off her best and just running for team points, the question then for the division is how far off? Her Impala teammate, Nancy Thomas, would be the second favorite. She finished 7th in last year’s edition of this XC race in 24:03, but her 24:03 over the same distance in Spokane resulted in a division 2nd place. She took 5th in the 5K in Atlanta in 20:37. Dana Parrot could challenge Thomas; she took 3rd in the 2017 Masters 10K Championship in 41:22 [age grade equivalent to a 20:01 5K] and finished two minutes back from Kaela O’Neil in the usatf-ne cross country Championship last fall. O’Neil then went on to finish 4th in the Masters Women’s race at the highly competitive Club XC Championship in Spokane. That suggests Parrot could have a shot at the podium in Tallahassee. in the Masters Women’s 6K at the highly competitive Club XC Championship. Alexandra Newman, the 3rd Impala runner in the division is a strong runner, as evidenced by her 10th place finish in Spokane and her 5th at the Masters 5 Km XC race in Buffalo.

Jennifer Bayliss     Nancy Thomas     Dana Parrot

50-54. The competitive New Balance Tampa Masters Team has added Jody Hawkins to their roster. Hawkins finished 2nd to Joanna Zeiger in St. Louis in 2012 when it was an 8 Km race, in 30:21 and won it overall in 2013 when the distance was changed to 6 Km. A 19:02 Jingle Bell 5K in Texas shows she still has speed. Amy Falterowitz finished 2nd in the division at the Masters 5 Km XC Championship in Buffalo last year and has a recent 20:05 5K and a 32:15 8K. Mary Shah runs most of her 5Ks in the low 20 to the low 21 range and also took 14th in the division at Club XC in Spokane in 26:38. Carol Bischoff and Dolyne Divino should be battling each other right behind those three and could get onto the podium on a good day. Bischoff claimed a division 3rd last year in Tallahassee to finish 3rd in 28:26. Divino has a recent 22:38 5K but her 49:20 in the Cooper River Bridge 10K does not match Bischoff’s 46:28 in the Masters 10K Championships in Dedham.

Hawkins     Falterowitz     Shah

55-59. This division is packed with contenders. Michelle ‘Shelly’ Allen, Kris Huff, Lorraine Jasper, Marisa Sutera Strange, and Mary Swan. For most of the last two years, Strange has dominated this group, whether in the 50-54 or the 55-59 which she entered this past year. However, there were a couple of chinks in her armor last year so we shall have to wait and see how 2019 unfolds. She finished strong at the 5 Km XC Championships in Buffalo, claiming 5th overall and 1st in the division in 20:01. The 50-54 division Champion last year is the favorite to take the 55-59 division this year. Allen and Jasper focused on the track in 2018 but both have shown themselves to be strong road and XC racers over the years. Jasper did contest the Masters 5KM XC in Buffalo right after competing at the WMA Championships in Malaga, Spain. She finished 9th overall and 2nd to Strange in the division. Allen finished 2nd to Strange last year in the 50-54 division. Last year Kris Huff had a very fruitful year, winning the W50 Masters Grand prix, standing on the division podium at the 5K, the 15K, and the Half Marathon. Nonetheless, Swan had the edge in Spokane, finishing almost half a minute ahead Huff. Trish Butler, who won this division last year, had knee replacement surgery last summer and is running primarily for team points and to start on her way back into high-stakes racing.

Marisa Sutera Strange      Lorraine Jasper      Michelle ‘Shelly’ Allen

60-64. Susan ‘Lynn’ Cooke, of New Balance Tampa, has aged up to a new division this year. Like her teammates, she focused on the track in 2018 but is likely to dominate this division in 2019 if she focuses more of her energy on the Masters Grand Prix circuit this year. Cooke finished 3rd last year in the 55-59 division, running 25:40. The other entrants are well back from that performance level. Cynthia Williams, Sharon Moore, and Cheryl Guth finished 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in the division last year with times of 29:11, 29:30, and 29:55. Red Lizard teammates, Joanna Harper and Betsy Miller did not race at Tallahassee last year. But they both came in ahead of Williams at Club XC in Spokane. Miller had the more comfortable margin of a full minute while there was only 22 seconds between Harper and Williams. And Williams took the honors in their most recent meeting in the 15K.

Susan ‘Lynn’ Cooke     Betsy Miller     Cynthia Williams

65-69. Sabra Harvey, the 2018 USATF Masters Harrier of the Year, is entered and expected to easily defend her Championship from last year in Tallahassee, when she ran 26:32. Although her focus this past year was mostly on the track, Harvey also won the division Championship at the Masters 5 KM XC in Buffalo. Jeanette Groesz is the favorite for 2nd based on her recent division win in Spokane where she covered the 6 Km XC course in 29:00. Last year when they were both in the 60-64 division, Cindy Lucking enjoyed an 18 second margin over Nancy Munson. Both aged up and they will have at it again this year; whoever has the edge should take 3rd.

Sabra Harvey     Jeanette Groesz     Cindy Lucking

70-74 Last year Terry Foody finished 2nd to Harvey in 65-69. She aged up and ordinarily would hope to move up to the top spot. Her 39:29 over 6 Km last year was well back from Harvey, but Harvey is a phenomenon. Foody has Sharon Gerl and Carolyn Mather to worry about. Primarily a triathlon competitor, Gerl has run a number of 5K road races in the 23 to 23:30 range. That combination of speed and triathlete strength suggest Gerl has a good XC race in her. Mather proved a formidable competitor last year when she took the Club XC title over 6 Km in 38:21. She also ran a 4-Miler in 40:16 and a 5K in 2017 in 27:00.

Sharon Gerl     Carolyn Mather     Terry Foody

75-79 Catherine Radle took 1st in this division at Club XC in Spokane in 44:42. That compares favorably with Madeline Bost’s winning time in the division at Tallahassee last year, 49:15. They also met head-to-head in Buffalo NY at the Masers 5 Km XC where Radle had the honors by nearly 3 minutes, 38:27 to 41:24.

Catherine Radle     Madeline Bost


Women 40 and up-San Francisco Bay’s Impala Racing Team should have a slight edge over the Atlanta Track Club. It appears that the supporting cast for Impala--Alexandra Newman and Nancy Thomas are slightly stronger than their counterparts for Atlanta, Hiroko Guarneri and Kathy Wiegand but the difference is not great. If the Impala #1, Jennifer Bayliss, is fully fit,  she should be able to come in ahead of Atlanta's Jill Braley and that should be enough to give them the win. But if Braley is very close, Atlanta could still win. If Braley finds a way to come in ahead of Bayliss then things look good for Atlanta. It could be tight! But the race between Thomas and Wiegand is also very important.
Impala Racing Team     Atlanta Track Club

Women 50 and up-The addition of Hawkins to the New Balance Tampa Masters should give them a good shot at ending the stranglehold the Athena Track Club has had on first place in this division. But it is just a good shot. It may well come down to whether Jody Hawkins or Marisa Sutera Strange takes the division win. I keep NBT's Butler out of it on the grounds that coming back from a partial knee replacement leaves her running for insurance points. If I think of it as just head-to-head, then Jasper should come in behind Hawkins and Strange but ahead of the rest. If Michelle Allen and Lynn Cooke can come in ahead of Mary Swan, then the score would be 10-11, with the win hanging on the Hawkins-Strange race within the race. And there is always the possibility that Butler runs better than I am expecting or a runner from another team, like Atlanta's Kris Huff, works her way into the top 6 and upsets the calculations. My general rule is: 'The Champ[s] is [are] the Champ[s] until somebody beats them." So I pick Athena, then NBT, then Atlanta and then GVH. GVH wil battle Atlanta all the way for the final podium position but Atlanta should have enough firepower to come home 3rd.
 Athena Track Club     New Balance Tampa Masters     Atlanta Track Club

Women 60 and up-Oregon’s Team Red Lizard should repeat. They do not have their usual #1, Suzanne Ray, but if Betsy Miller and Jeanette Groesz can go 1-2 among the team athletes, that leaves the Red Lizards in good shape for the win. Even if GVH's Sharon Moore and Atlanta's Cindy Williams are able to come in before Joanna Harper of the Lizards, as is certainly possible, that would give the Red Lizards 8 points and the win. I favor GVH for 2nd place because Moore, Cheryl Guth, and Darlene Saeva should be able to finish as a tight group, all within a minute of each other. They might, for example, take 4th, 6th and 7th in the team race to Atlanta's 3rd, 8th and 9th. If Williams runs her usual race, by recent standards, it will be tough for Cindy Lucking and Margaret Taylor to finish within a minute of her. But if they can pack it up a bit more than they did at Club XC, they've got a shot at the silver medals. 
Team Red Lizard     Genesee Valley Harriers     Atlanta Track Club

Women 70 and up Atlanta Track Club is unopposed. 
Atlanta Track Club

Men 40 and up-Cal Coast should be able to repel a strong challenge from the Atlanta Track Club and the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH). If Jacques Sallberg, John Gardiner, and Christian Cushing-Murray run as well as they did at Spokane, they should go 1-2-3. If it were a dual meet, they would win, but it is not. Still, they have good supporting strength in Shannon Winkelman, Thomas Schumann and Rob Arsenault.  Even if Arsenault would be their #6, Cal Coast should come in under 30 points. Atlanta's Brian Sydow could push up into the top 3 with a terrific run, but Cushing-Murray beat him by almost 40 seconds in Spokane. If, instead, Sydow takes 4th and Brent Fields 6th, and Thomas Aliff, Mark Castleberry and John Westrick pack it up in 11th through 13th, it is hard to see them breaking 45 points by much. GVH and the Bowerman Track Club should be more closely matched. The trick with handicapping this matchup is that I can find no information on GVH's Christopher Hernandez. If he is substantially faster than teammates Brian Lazzaro and Thomas Regan, that would be enough to tip the scales toward GVH.  The other thing that could move the scales would be if Matthew Farley was in early recovery mode in Spokane and is much further along now. If he can run a couple of minutes faster now, that would lower Bowerman's total substantially.
Cal Coast Track Club     Atlanta Track Club     GVH

Men 50 and up The Greater Springfield Harriers have dominated this division in recent years. In their absence, the Atlanta Track Club and GVH should battle to the wire. It is a tough one to scope out. But one scenario I played out wound up with Atlanta winning 27 to 28. That tells you how close it is. Clearly if I switch Gary Droze and Mike Nier or John Van Kerkhove and Jeff Haushalter, but not both, then the scores are reversed. Clearly it is all hands on board and every place matters! Last year, with different rosters, Atlanta took the honors so I will go that way this time. 'The Champ is the Champ until they are beaten.'
Atlanta Track Club     Genesee Valley Harriers

Men 60 and up-This division has ore teams than any other and many of them are closely matched. At first I thought the Boulder Road Runners would enter as slight favorites in the most competitive Masters division, but that the Atlanta Track Club will be right there with them. Now that I have looked more carefully at the rosters and 'guesstimated' performance, I make Atlanta the favorite. Even if Boulder's Roger Sayre and Dan Spale  finish 1st and 3rd, their 3rd runner, whether Chuck Smead, Michael Fronsoe or Bruce Kirschner would need  very strong run to finish close to Atlanta's #3, Phil Richey. If Ken Youngers and Mike Anderson have their usual days, it would not be surprising to see them take 2nd and 5th. If Richey stays as close as usual he should finish in the top 10, perhaps 8th. If so, Atlanta gets 15 points. Boulder would need Smead or one of the other two to finish in the top 10 to beat Atlanta, which is a tall order A good performance would land him in 15th which would be just enough to hold off GVH for 2nd place in the team competition. Shore AC with their reliable trio of Kevin Dollard, Scott Linnell, and Reno Stirrat should be a close 4th, coming in ahead of Cal Coast, the KC Smoke, and the Speedsters Florida teams.

Men 70 and up—The Atlanta Track Club should claim this win but will be pushed by GVH. Jerry Learned should get the team 1st for Atlanta although GVH's Doc Rappole was only 22 seconds back at the 5 Km Masters XC in Buffalo so it is not impossible that he could snatch the win. If Dave Glass were running as strongly as he was in 2017 and early 2018, Atlanta would be counting on 1-2, but Glass struggled with injury late in the year, and will likely trail behind Rappole. Jim May will also be in the hunt for the win; he finished 7 seconds back from learned at Club XC in Spokane. If Learned can get the win and Glass and Sam Benedict can both come in ahead of GVH's Patrick Dwyer, and May and Rappole finishe 2nd and 3rd, Atlanta gets the win 10 to 11. GVH has the advantage, though, that May and Rappole may be able to work together for the win. Unless Glass has recovered substantially over the last two months, that will not be true for Atlanta.
Atlanta Track Club     GVH

Wow! Talk about some terrific team competition! I can hardy wait to se ehow these actually come out!

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