Monday, December 30, 2019

Masters Runners Conquer Muddy Course for 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships-Part 1:TEAMS-Masters Men 60+ and Masters Women

December 30, 2019. BETHLEHEM, PA-Lehigh University. The 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships were held on the Lehigh University Cross Country course, which is also the site for the annual Paul Short Run. Scheduled for Saturday, December 14th, Club Cross was returning to Lehigh after a successful race held there in 2014. The course was damp from an inch of rain earlier in the week; light rain Friday afternoon and overnight added to the problem. The footing over most of the course was good; there were a few troublesome spots. Most runners agreed that it could have been worse and was, in many respects, a perfectly normal cross-country challenge. Admittedly the problem got worse with each batch of runners who traversed the course. A few runners did slip, slide and go down, but most were able to navigate the entire course in an upright position. The Masters athletes proved they were up to the challenge; the level of competition was outstanding.

Team Competition In keeping with the name of this Championship, teams are the primary focus. Consistent with that, let us look first at the Team Competition and who wound up with bragging rights for the next year. Scoring is based on the top 3 finishers for Men 60 and up and in the Women’s contests; in the Men's 40 and up, to be reported on in the next posting, the usual scoring of top 5 runners is employed. This post focuses on the first two races of the day, Men 60+ and Women. There were 247 finishers in the M60+ race and 288 in the Women's race, all ages forty and over.

Masters Men 60+ Forty-one teams went off over an 8 Km course at 10 am under cloudy skies and 46-degree temperatures. In 2017 it was Seattle's Club Northwest, the Atlanta Track Club (Atlanta) and the Shore Athletic Club (Shore) of New Jersey going 1-2-3, with the Syracuse Track Club just off the podium. Club Northwest (Northwest) took top honors last year too; Minnesota's Run N Fun [RNF] and the Green Mountain Athletic Association [Green Mountain] of Vermont rounded out the podium, with the Atlanta Track Club [Atlanta] and Boulder Road Runners [BoulderRR] tied for 4th. The 2nd and 3rd runners from last year's Northwest championship squad were missing this year. Despite Joe Sheeran leading the squad again, Northwest would have a tough time repeating in 2019. Other teams likely to contend included Greater Lowell Road Runners (Lowell), led by Mark Reeder and John Barbour, Run N Fun, with Daniel Johnson and Doug Keller, and Athletics Boulder(ABoulder), with top contender, Dan King leading the way. 
There were two intermediate splits in this race, at 3.5K and at 6.5K. For the intermediate split portions of the recap, I delete Non-Citizen and unattached runners, but do not check to see if a runner with a team affiliation has a complete team; the final results recap portions omit any runners from incomplete teams.
The Gun Sounds and the Masters Men 60 and Over Take to the Turf! At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA [This and all subsequent photos-Credit: Michael Scott]

Northwest's Sheeran wasted no time in racing to the front and had over 20 seconds on the field as he hit the first split in 12:18. With no  other teammate in the top 20 and their third teammate well back, it seemed unlikely Northwest would land a podium position. Lowell's Reeder came next in 12:41, with ABoulder's King right behind. Eight seconds later, RNF's Johnson and Keller, running in tandem, gave RnF the first #2 runners to cross the timing mat. 
Joe Sheeran, with a big lead, swings wide around a muddy turn to maintain momentum. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Russell Blatt of Hartford Track Club (Hartford) followed 4 seconds later. Forty seconds later, Lowell's David Westenberg, Barbour and Charlie Muse came across in 10th, 11th, and 13th. Lowell was the first team to have even 3 runners across the mats, not to mention 4. Charles Brown was RNF's 3rd runner when he came across 27th. They were closely followed by the Greater Philadelphia Track Club (Greater Philly), led by Charles Shields and Timothy Conheady who were tied for 7th. 
Greater Philly's Chuck Shields #1515 and Timothy Conheady keeping pace with Run N Fun's Charles Brown (out of picture)

Atlanta was 4th, thanks to Ken Youngers and Jeffery Dundas in 9th and 10th; Mike Anderson, despite nursing an injury, was hanging tough as their 3rd runner. 
Ken Youngers leading John Barbour left #1479, teammate Jeffery Dundas back, and David Westenberg right behind Youngers. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

ABoulder and Northwest were right on Atlanta's heels, and Hartford rounded out the top 7. The teams largely held position over the next 3 kilometers. Lowell's Reeder and Barbour hung tough in 2nd and 10th the whole way; Muse lost a little ground to Barbour but, by staying in sight of him, managed to pass two runners. Lowell took the title with 24 points. RNF's Johnson held 4th all the way. Keller lost a couple spots to finish 7th, but Paul Brown moved up a couple of spots to finish 25th, giving RNF 36 points and 2nd place. There was some suspense over the final podium spot. ABoulder had King in 3rd, but Greater Philly's Shields and Conheady came over the line in 5th and 8th. But they were followed by Atlanta's Youngers and Dundas in 9th and 15th. 
Run N Fun's Paul Brown leads Rick Bruess of Athletics Boulder heading into a Muddy Turn. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
When ABoulder's Rick Bruess finished 31st, that gave all three teams two runners in, with Greater Philly at 13, Atlanta at 24, and AB at 34. Fourteen seconds after Bruess crossed the line, Greater Philly's Robert Reynolds sprinted across in 36th, giving them 49 points and a lock on third.  Anderson hung tough for Atlanta, but  he could not match ABoulder's Kevin Cooper who brought ABoulder home in 4th place, with 68. Atlanta took 5th at 75, with Northwest and Hartford in 6th and 7th, with 80 and 99 points respectively.
Greater Lowell Road Runners John Barbour,Peter Lagoy,Charlie Muse,Mark Reeder, David Westenberg 23 [1:31:11/30:24]; Run N Fun Paul Brown, Daniel Johnson, Doug Keller, Bobby Paxton 33 [1:32:02/30:41]; Greater Philadelphia Track Club Timothy Conheady, Keith Davies, Terry Permar, Robert Reynolds, Charles Shields 43 [1:33:13/31:05]

Masters Men 70+ In that same 10 AM race, nine M70+ teams toed the line. The Ann Arbor Track Club [Ann Arbor] entered as defending Champions, but not as favorites. One of their top 3 from last year, Lloyd Hansen, was out nursing a hamstring back to health. They had missed him at the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships in San Diego [San DiegoXC], where the San Diego Striders [San Diego] took the win at 19 points to 23 for Ann Arbor. The Boulder Road Runners [Boulder] tied Ann Arbor on points and took 2nd on a tie-breaker; Boulder did not enter a complete team at Lehigh. San Diego had added a newly aged up 70 year old, David Dunbar, who, in San DiegoXC, had come in just ahead of Ann Arbor's top finisher, Terry McCluskey. The top runner for San Diego, Tony Marshall, had bested McCluskey by 17 seconds. The 8 Km distance favored McCluskey, who regularly competes at road races up to a Half Marathon, but whether it would be enough to reverse the San DiegoXC order was an open question. After the race we learned that Ron Wells, the San Diego #2, though entered, did not make it to the starting line. That largely offset the advantage from adding Dunbar. Still, if Marshall and Dunbar ran as at San DiegoXC they would have the first two runners in; could McCluskey, Doug Goodhue, and Paul Carlin [yours truly] run strong enough to offset that advantage? I would have to come in ahead of San DiegoS's Daniel Diehr who edged me by 5 seconds in San DiegoXC. Other contenders included the Greater Philadelphia Track Club [Greater Philly], led by the superb Marathoner and Ultra-Marathoner, Gene Dykes. Dykes set the LDR world on its head when he bettered the legendary Ed Whitlock's World Best for Men 70+ by running the Jacksonville Marathon last December in 2:54:23. Even though it won't be recognized as an American Record, because of not being in a sanctioned race, it stands as an incredible achievement. Dykes had a clavicle injury from a trail run fall in the summer, which he quickly recovered from. After that he  had some nagging congestion problems which affected his training. Would he take the title here, as he did at the 2018 Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in Buffalo NY [BuffaloXC]against much of the same field? The Eastside Runners [ESR] out of East Seattle, took all the marbles in the 2017 Club Cross at Lexington. David Longmuir, who took top honors that year, was still recovering from summer surgery at San DiegoXC and finished well back. He would, undoubtedly, run faster; the question was how much faster. Joined by his talented teammates, Craig Andersen and Frazer Mann, ESR definitely had a shot at a podium finish. The Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH) and Atlanta Track Club have been chasing Ann Arbor all year and are always a threat for a podium finish.
McCluskey was motivated to repeat his victory at Spokane. The distance favored him over Marshall and Katz who came in 1st and 2nd respectively at San DiegoXC. Could he also defeat Dykes? After the BuffaloXC he had said, "Dykes is not unbeatable, at least not at Cross Country." McCluskey would definitely give it his best shot. He was the first runner across the 3.5 mile split at 14:51; 
Terry McCluskey, leading the M70+ Race with just 60-69 runners in sight, cruising around the outside of the muddy turn. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Dykes and Boulder's Katz were in 2nd and 3rd a half minute back. 
Rick Katz orange singlet leads Gene Dykes lime socks, following M65 Kirk Larson  wide around the turn. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Three seconds back it was David Dunbar and, 4 seconds later, Marshall; 
David Dunbar white singlet-front takes the turn a few strides ahead of teammate, Tony Marshall #1761, with M65 runners, Leslie Sharp #1333 and Butch Caimano #1367 and M60 runners, John Hadcock #1488 and Jeffrey Kirchner #1383. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
Goodhue gave Ann Arbor their 2nd to cross the mat 7 seconds further on. That left San Diego and Ann Arbor in a virtual tie at that point. It was a bit of a wait but Ann Arbor's Carlin came across the mat 15 seconds ahead of San Diego's Diehr and their 4th runner, Steve Doyle. That gave Ann Arbor a slim edge in points. Greater Philly had Dykes 2nd; their 2nd runner, Seth Bergman, was a minute behind Goodhue, but 45 seconds ahead of me. But their 3rd runner, Tom Jennings, was behind me, just ahead of Diehr. Atlanta's top two, Jerry Learned and Dave Glass, were running close, 15-20 seconds back from Goodhue. Sam Benedict, despite giving his best, was well back. GVH had a tighter bunch and their top runner, Jim May, came across just ahead of Learned. With Doc Rappole just ahead of Greater Philly's Bergmann, and Keith Yeates and Tony Gingello just behind, GVH certainly had a shot at a podium landing. 
GVH's Keith Yeates and Tony Gingello take a tight, muddy turn with abandon, if not enthusiasm. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Andersen and Longmuir, of Eastside Runners were running between Learned and Glass, and their 3rd runner, Frazer Mann, was right behind Gingello and well ahead of me. ESR was in the thick of things! There were no significant changes at the 6.5 mark. McCluskey was tearing up the turf, a few seconds further ahead of Dykes and Katz now. Marshall and Dunbar had exchanged positions but still held 4th and 5th. Goodhue had a runner pass him so he was now in 7th. Still that gave Ann Arbor a one point lead over San Diego on the first two runners. 
Doug Goodhue, the 'Silver Bullet' #1153, chasing M65's Doug Wood #1843 and John Hibbs #1631. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

San Diego's 3rd runner, Diehr had passed Greater Philly's Jennings but the 17 second gap up to me had grown to 44 seconds. What about GVH and ESR? GVH's May was still a few seconds ahead of ESR's Andersen and Longmuir. Rappole was still next but ESR's Mann had passed Yeates and Gingello. It would be a thrilling finish! McCluskey held strong to the tape to nail down the first spot for Ann Arbor in 34:13. Dykes had to push  to drop Katz over the final 1.5 kilometers, and that carried him 5 seconds closer to McCluskey, with 34:48. Dykes had to settle for 2nd but was happy, no doubt, to drop a tenacious runner like Katz,, who rounded out the podium at 34:56. Katz had no complete team, so Marshall and Dunbar, who came next for San Diego, claimed 3rd and 4th, with Goodhue next in 5th. As at the earlier checkpoint, Ann Arbor had a 1 point lead over San Diego after the first two runners. If I held tough over the last 1.5, we had the win. I came across in 16th at 39:09, with over 40 seconds to spare, as Diehr came in 18th. That gave Ann Arbor the win, 22 to 25. It was super tight for 3rd place too. Greater Philly had Dykes in 2nd and Bergmann 8th for 10 points. But ESR had Andersen, Longmuir and Mann finish in 10th, 11th and 13th for 34 points. 
Atlanta's Jerry Learned #1192 leading ESR's Craig Andersen white cap and David Longmuir #1375. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

GVH had May, a tough runner down the stretch, hold on to finish just ahead of Andersen and Longmuir in 9th, and Rappole stayed right behind them. But Gingello, despite a strong effort, was unable to catch Mann and that left ESR with 34 points from 3 runners and GVH with 35 points on three runners. The suspense was whether it was for 3rd and 4th, or for 4th and 5th. Luckily for Greater Philly, Jennings, 75 now, can still run a fine 8K on the turf; he came across in 19th to give GPTC 29 points and 3rd place. That left ESR in 4th, GVH in 5th and Atlanta in 6th with 45 points.
Ann Arbor Track Club Paul Carlin, David Cohen, Doug Goodhue, Terry McCluskey 22 [1:49:40/36:34] San Diego Striders Daniel Diehr, Steve Doyle, David Dunbar, Tony Marshall 25 [1:51:18/37:06] Greater Philadelphia Track Club Jim Assai, Seth Bergmann, Gene Dykes, Tom Jennings 29 [1:51:47/37:16]

Masters Men 80+ Two teams contested the 80+ Championship, the Atlanta Track Club and the Clifton Road Runners.  The San Diego Striders had a complete team entered but only two finishers so they did not score. The team race would have been closer had an Official on the course not mistakenly directed Atlanta's David Turner, who was leading at the time, to run an extra loop. 
David Turner led the M80 Field by a Minute and a Half When this Photo was Taken. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Atlanta's Andrew Sherwood, who was in 3rd at the time, but 3-4 minutes back, was apparently close enough to see the misdirection, but not close enough to do anything about it. Sherwood said that the same course marshall directed him to follow Turner but he paid no attention, as he knew he needed to turn there to get to the finish as drawn up. 
Andrew Sherwood, ordinarily the #2 runner for Atlanta's M80+ team, was their top finisher. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Turner would almost surely have won; he was 3 minutes ahead of the eventual winner, John Elliott, who was running for an incomplete team. But it would not have been decisive for the team contest. As is, Atlanta had Sherwood, Turner, and Sid Davis 2nd, 5th, and 16th for 23 points to Clifton's Roland Ratmeyer, James Leitz, and Matt Lalumia in 1st, 3rd and 4th, for 8 points. 
Roland Ratmeyer leads the Clifton Roadrunners to the M80+ Victory. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Had Turner won, Atlanta would have had 1st, 3rd, and 16th for 20 and Clifton 2nd, 4th, and 5th for 11 points and the win. 
Matt Lalumia, #3 Runner for Clifton Road Runners Secures their M80+ Victory. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

The Clifton runners ran strong and earned their victory!
Clifton Road Runners Matt Lalumia, James Leitz, Roland Ratmeyer 8 [2:37:33/52:31] Atlanta Track Club Sid Davis, Andrew Sherwood, David Turner 23 [3:20:56/1:06:59]

The Masters Women went off at 11 am over a 6 Km course layout, with a split at 3.5 Km.
Masters Women 40+ Twenty-five teams would contest the 40+ Championship. Club Northwest [Northwest] took the honors in 2015 and 2016. The Atlanta Track Club [Atlanta] took the win in Lexington, with the Janes Elite Racing [Janes] winning in Spokane. Atlanta is always tougher if Sonja Friend-Uhl can make the trip but that was not possible this year so their podium hopes took a blow. Jill Braley, Kathy Wiegand, and Hiroko Guarneri would do a fine job, as usual, but Friend-Uhl typically gives them a top 5 finisher. Northwest has relied on Janet McDevitt for a top finisher. With strong support in 2015 and 2016 they took top honors. McDevitt did not run for them in Spokane and Northwest finished well off the podium. This year she would run, but unlike past years, she has not been active in the USATF Championship events. Would she still be up to a top 5 finish? And what kind of support would she have? The Janes were favorites to retain the Championship as their team was largely intact. Nancy James-Klinger, Grace Padilla, Gwendolen Twist and Cambria Wu would try to work their magic again. The San Diego TC, runners up last year, were not competing this year, perhaps because their top runner, Meriah Earle, is focusing her training on the Olympic Marathon Trials race in February. Other potential contenders included the Bull City Track Club [Bull City], who finished 3rd at Lexington; Team Red Lizard [Red Lizard] and the Impala Track Club [Impala], who finished 5th and 6th in Spokane. And there are always regional teams, less well known nationally, who spring up to contend. 

When the gun sounded, Casey Hire, Sascha Scott, and Kelly Griffin sprang to the front, pushing the pace over the open field. 
The Gun Sounds and the Field of Masters Women is Off Over the Turf. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Of those three, Hire was of the most concern as she was the top runner for Red Lizard. By the time they had reached the 3.5 Km split mat, Hire was still pacing the teams in front, clocking 13:18, with Nancy James-Klinger, of the Janes, and the Impalas Kelly Couch 14 seconds back. 
Casey Hire #2176 moves out to an early lead, followed closely by Sascha Scott #2173, Kelly Griffin #2195, Nancy James-Klinger #2186 and Alison Schwalm right edge of picture. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Bull City with Brennan Liming and the Pike Creek Valley TC [Pike Creek] with Laura Latchford, were next heard from in 13:34 and 13:36. Neither of those teams had a second runner int he top 20; that made a podium finish unlikely. Northwest's McDevitt came next, a few spots further back than her norm; with no other teammates in the top 20, their hopes, too, looked slim. The Janes enjoyed the first multiple mat-crossers when Grace Padilla came across in 13:57. Looking back in the field, a number of other Janes singlets could be spied including Gwendolen Twist and Cambria Wu, 5 and 13 seconds back respectively. 

Chase Pack at 400 Meters--R to L-Nancy James-Klinger, Janet McDevitt, Laura Latchford, Sarah Dunham, Kelly Griffin, Kelly Couch, Grace Padilla. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
With 4 runners in the top 20, their title defense was looking good. A second back from Padilla, Katie Famous gave the Impalas their 2nd runner, but Alexandra Newman, despite a strong effort, found herself out of the top 40. 
Margaret Brennan, in 3rd, with a large lead over the rest of the field. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

What about Hire's Red Lizard teammates? Crystal Query was just 6 seconds back from Twist, with Janne Heinonen a few seconds behind Wu. If they could move up, Red Lizard might give the Janes a surprise. 
Team Red Lizard, Crystal Query #2178, Leads Atlanta's Jill Braley #1927 and Janes Elite's Cambria Wu #2188 Around a Muddy Turn. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Ten seconds back from Wu,was the first of a trio of Nittany Valley Running Club [Nittany Valley] runners, Carly Shea. Without a top 15 runner, their work was cut out for them but if they could keep their pack tight, they had a chance. Her teammate, Jaimie Wright, was 7 seconds back, with Cheryl Keller Capone just 3 seconds back. After the Janes and Red Lizard, Nittany Valley were the first team to get three runners across the  timing mat; would they stay close enough to each other to edge Impala for the podium?

Another 2.5 kilometers, and the runners crossed the finish line. Scott and Margaret Brennan went 1-2 overall in 22:26 and 22:35, but neither had a team in the top 10. 
Sascha Scott Takes the Overall Masters Win for her Syracuse Track Club team.
At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

The Janes took the suspense out pretty quickly. James-Klinger came across 2nd in team scoring, in 22:45, to give the Janes their first runner across the line. Four seconds later it was Hire for Red Lizard, and then Liming for Bull City and Couch for Impala in 3rd through 5th. Famous gave the Janes some worry when she was the 2nd Impala to cross the line, claiming 8th. But the Janes soon put any question to rest as Padilla was only 2 seconds back in 9th, with Twist crossing next in 10th. That gave the Janes 20 points; no one else could touch them! Red Lizard delivered on its promise as Query took 11th, 4 seconds behind Twist, with Heinonen 15th. That gave them 29 points and 2nd place. Despite Impala taking 5th and 8th, the Nittany Valley 'train' was now steaming toward the finish line. The trio had stayed tight, with Shea, Wright and Capone claiming 14th, 18th, and 19th in a space of 20 seconds. That gave them 51 points. Unless Newman had worked her way well up into the top 40, Nittany Valley would enjoy the final podium spot. When Newman came across the finish line in 40th place, a gutsy effort, it was not quite enough to deny Nittany Valley their bronze medals, 51 to 53. Bull City came 5th with 59, Pike Creek 6th with 69, and Northwest with 71 finished 7th.
Janes Elite Racing Vivien Hyman, Nancy James-Klinger, Grace Padilla, Gwendolen Twist, Cambria Wu 21 [1:10:31/23:31] Team Red Lizard Janne Heinonen, Casey Hire, Angela Lindbo, Crystal Query 29 [1:11:02/23:41] Nittany Valley Running Club Cheryl Keller Capone, Meira Meinard, Tara Murray, Carly Shea, Jaimie Wright 51 [1:13:05/24:22]

Masters Women 50+ Twenty-five teams would also vie for the 50+ podium. Tania Fischer, of the Janes Elite [Janes] had turned 50 for the 2016 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee. She and a new recruit, Kathleen Cushing-Murray joined Kelle Taylor to bring home the top honors. At Lexington and Spokane, they kept that streak going. Could the Janes make it 4 in a row? Fischer and Cushing-Murray, joined by Victoria Cook-Chapus, were back, but perhaps not at their strongest. Fischer had been a little disappointed with her effort at the 5 Km Masters XC Championship in San Diego and they did not compete there as a team. Club Northwest Northwest] and Impala Racing Elite [Impala], who finished 3rd and 6th respectively in Spokane, might make things interesting. Nancy Thomas, one of the anchors of the 40+ Impala teams had aged up and would compete for the 50+. She joined Hronn Gudmundsdottir, who had been running strongly for Impala on the Masters Grand Prix circuit. The Athena Track Club had taken 3rd in Tallahassee and 2nd at Lexington, but did not compete in Spokane. Despite Marisa Sutera Strange, Lorraine Jasper, and Mary Swan all being in the second half of the 10-year age division, they are a formidable trio. At the USATF Masters XC Championship in Tallahassee [TallahasseeXC] this past February, Strange took 1st Overall and the team took the Gold in the 50+ division.

First across the mat at 3.5 Km in the 50+ team competition in 13:59 was Athena's Strange, 
Four Hundred Meters Into the Race and Mimi Fallon #2041 leads Lorraine Jasper #1918 and Amy Weiner #2170 in the 50+ race, with 40+ runners, Caroline Bucci #2008 and Katherine McCalley #2166. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
followed 6 seconds later by a trio consisting of Gudmundsdottir  and Thomas of Impala, and Susan Empey of Northwest. Impala had a strong 1-2 punch. 
Hronn Gudmundsdottir #2049 and Nancy Thomas #2054 leading the way for the Impala Racing team, in 2nd and 3rd in the 50+ race. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Next, in 14:33, was Rachel Hopkins of Sirius Athletics [Sirius], followed by Fischer of the Janes and the HFC Striders' [HFC] Holly Madden.  
Rachel Hopkins, #1 runner for the Sirius Athetics 50+ team, takes the turn, with unattached runner, Aeron Arlin Genet immediately behind. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Northwest's Susan Pappalardo was next in 14:56, with Emily Bryans of Willow Street Athletic Club [Willow St] 3 seconds back. 
Team Running Across the age Divisions-Club Northwest's L to R: Susan Pappalardo 50-54, Deborah Fletcher 45-49, and Milah Frownfelter 40-44. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

When Melissa Landers-Pott came across in 15:03, that gave Sirius its second scoring runner across the mat. When Patti Shore clocked 15:20, Impala had 3 runners across and looked to be in good shape for the win. It would be another 10 seconds before Jill O'Grady gave Sirius its 3rd scorer. If O'Grady could close on Shore, that would likely make a huge difference to Sirius's chances, but it would be a lot to ask. And Willow St was in the hunt as well. Bryans was just inside the top 10 but Beth Stalker and Lori Kingsley finished in 15:17 and 15:22, eight seconds ahead of Sirius's O'Grady, to give them 3 runners across the mat also. Jasper crossed 3 seconds ahead of Willow's Stalker; Swan gave Athena their 3rd runner when Swan crossed the mat 7 seconds after Sirius's O'Grady. Impala appeared to be in the driver's seat, with Sirius, Athena, Northwest, and Willow St in a tight battle for the remaining podium spots. Two and a half tough kilometers later, the runners were bearing down on the finish line. 

Strange had the 1st place for Athena in 23:54; the team would need it. 
Marisa Sutera Strange powers to the tape and the 50+ victory. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Impala's 1-2 of Gudmundsdottir and Thomas did not disappoint, coming across the finish in 2nd and 3rd. 
Hronn Gudmundsdottir takes 2nd in 50+ for the Impala Racing Team; her teammate, Nancy Thomas, is in thebackground, headig up the rise to take 3rd place for the Impalas. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
Northwest's Empey and Sirius's Hopkins held their positions, finishing 4th and 5th. Fischer held onto her 6th spot with no problem, but Sirius's Landers-Pott closed strongly to claim 7th. At that point Impala led 5 - 12, but both teams would be looking anxiously for their 3rd runner. In the meantime, HFC's Madden came in 8th with Pappalardo giving Northwest their 2nd scorer and 13 points on their first 2 runners. Bryan, Willow St's #1, came in 10th followed by Jasper, whose 11 points brought Athena into a tie with Sirius on top 2 finishers. Stalker's 12th gave Willow St 2 finishers and 22 points. They needed Kingsley to finish soon to have any chance at podium. Shore was right on Stalker's heels, giving Impala the 13th place they needed to close out at 18 points. That gave them the victory; the best any other team could do would be a score in the 20's. But would any of the teams get there? Mimi Fallon's 14th gave HFC 22 points on two runners, tying them with Willow St. Kathleen Cushing-Murray's 15th gave the Janes 21 points on 2, putting them just ahead of those two teams. Kingsley claimed 16th for Willow St. in 26:14, closing them out at 38 points. Sirius and Athena needed their 3rd runners to come in 25th or better. Luckily they did not have long to wait. Sirius's O'Grady was just 4 seconds behind Kingsley in 17th, allowing them to close out at 29. 
Susan Empey closes it out, taking 4th in 50+ to lead her team to 4th place. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Swan had moved up on O'Grady over the final miles but O'Grady was just tough enough to hold her off by two seconds! Swan's 18th place gave Athena 30 points and guaranteed they would be on the podium. Alyssa Tower's 20th place gave Northwest 33 points for 4th place. Willow St's 38 were good for 5th and HFC closed out at 69 for 6th place, with the Janes 7th at 71.
Impala Racing Team Suzanne Cordes, Hronn Gudmundsdottir, Patti Shore, Nancy Thomas 18 [1:14:37/24:53] Sirius Athletics Rachel Hopkins, Laura Johnson, Melissa Landers-Pott, Jill O'Grady 29 [1:16:10/25:24] Athena Track Club Lorraine Jasper, Marisa Sutera Strange, Mary Swan 30 [1:16:02/25:21]

Masters Women 60+ Twelve teams contested this division. Team Red Lizard [Red Lizard] burst onto the scene at Club Cross in Lexington in 2017 [LexingtonXC], taking 1st, 2nd, and 4th in a dominant win. The Impala Racing Team [Impala] had won the year before in Tallahassee [TallahasseeCXC], but finished 3rd in LexingtonXC. Though less dominant at Club Cross in Spokane [SpokaneXC], Red Lizard enjoyed a 2nd straight win, edging Impala 10-13. Atlanta has been the other fixture on the Club Cross podium, finishing 2nd in 2016 and 2017, but falling to 4th last year. It would be a new team at the top this year; neither Red Lizard nor Impala were able to bring a team to the starting line. Impala entered a complete team but Doctor's orders forced one of the team members to scratch. Club Northwest [Northwest] looked to be a sold contender; Regina Joyce ran #3 on their 5)+ team last year and Kelly Kruell was running again for them, now as a 60 year old. Kruell's last Club Cross outing was in 2017 as the #2 runner on Northwest's 50+ Bronze Medal team. The newcomer on the squad was Kathi Sleavin who had a sub-22 5K and 3 Half Marathons in the 1:34 to 1:42 range. The team looked strong.

First across the 3.5K timing mat was Nora Cary in 15:35; her North Jersey Track Club team was not expected to factor in the podium race.
Suzanne Cordes, 60+, #2046 leads out Victoria Cook-Chapus, 55+ #2181, Sarah Dolven, 50+ #2203, Katharine Serrano, 45+ #1934 in the early going. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
The woman who crossed 3 seconds later, Sleavin of Northwest, gave early notice that this might be their year. When her teammate, Regina Joyce crossed 25 seconds later in 3rd, it was all but certain. 
Regina Joyce, 60-64 #1979, heads out with Ruthie Ireland, 50-54 #2205, Tara Murray, 40-44 #2080, Maureen Bischoff, 50-54 #2007, and Ani Go, 50-54 #1963 helping her team to 1st place  in 60+. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Atlanta's Patrice Combs stopped the sequence of orange singlets by crossing in 16:08. A minute later it was starting to look much more competitive as Mireille 'Mimi' Silva, also of Atlanta, crossed the mat in 5th. 
Patrice Combs, 60-64, #1928 strides out in the first 400 meters with Christine Crowley, 50-51, #2068, and Kathleen Monforto, 40+, #2226. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

But then Northwest's 3rd runner, Kruell, was only 8 seconds back. The first runner for Shore Athletic Club [ShoreAC], Diane Rothman, crossed in 17:17, with Carole Feole Driscoll next in 17:33 for Pike Creek Valley Track Club [Pike Creek]. Cynthia Williams gave Atlanta their third runner across the mat in 17:57. The Atlanta runners would have to move up to challenge Northwest for the win but they looked pretty solid for 2nd. Who would get 3rd? With Potomac Valley Track Club's [Potomac] Mary Lowe Mayhugh and Robin Moon running in 10th and 11th, they could contend with ShoreAC and Pike Creek who had their first runners past the mat already. 
Liberty AC's Alda Cossi, 65-69 and Atlanta's Cynthia Williams, 60-64, #1941, running with Laura Donnelly, 50-54 #2149. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Pike Creek wouldn't go down without a fight though, as Marjorie Adams came through in 17:32, 7 seconds ahead of Potomac's 3rd runner, Elizabeth Baumgarten, with Adams's Pike Creek teammate and 3rd scorer, Carol Giampietro, another 7 seconds back.

The top two teams held strong all the way to the finish. Sleavin, Joyce and Kruell came in 2nd, 3rd and 6th for 11 points and a Northwest win! Atlanta was not able to move up but they held onto their positions as Combs, Silva, and Williams took 4th, 7th, and 9th for 20 points and a solid 2nd place. Pike Creek and Potomac demonstrated that the battles are tough in the trenches. Pike Creek's Driscoll held onto 8th and Potomac's Mayhugh and Moon kept 10th and 11th. The difference maker was Giampietro who moved past Potomac's Baumgarten to lead her teammate, Adams, to 14 and 15 across the line. Pike Creek took 3rd with 37 points to 39 for Potomac Valley. Great running for both teams and terrific competition! ShoreAC followed in 5th with 45, and then North Jersey 6th with 60 points. Even when the battle is for 7th and 8th the battles in the trenches are critical; Liberty AC edged the Genesee Valley Harriers [GVH] for 7th place 65 to 66!
Club Northwest Regina Joyce, Kelly Kruell, Kathi Sleavin 11 [1:22:28/27:30] Atlanta Track Club Patrice Combs, Mireille Silva, Margaret Taylor, Cynthia Williams 20 [1:27:28/29:10] Pike Creek Valley Track Club Marjorie Adams, Carol Feole Driscoll, Carol Giampietro 37 [1:32:28/30:50]

Masters Women 70+ The Atlanta Track Club took the honors last year, defeating the San Diego Track Club in a tight battle, 10 to 11. They had an easier time of it this year running unopposed. Carolyn Mather, Carol Rhodes, and Catherine Radle took 1st, 4th and 5th last year. 
Catherine Radle heading out on her way to an Atlanta 70+ Team Victory. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

This year it was 1-2-3 for a mostly new crew of Kathleen Allen, Catherine Radle, and Judy Melton.
Kathleen Allen led her Atanta 70+ Team to victory. At the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA

Atlanta Track Club Kathleen Allen, Judy Melton, Catherine Radle 6 [2:15:38/45:13] 

There were no 80+ Women's teams but read about the individual runners who competed in the next installments.

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