Saturday, September 24, 2022

Masters Athletes Put It All on the Line at the 12 Km National Championships on the Jersey Shore-Part I--Overall and Age Divisions-Women

 September 23, 2022 Another participation record was set on Sunday, September 18th at Highlands, NJ. Last year there were 279 finishers, this year 299! The weather this past Sunday at the race was great for spectators but made for slower times than were anticipated. As one of my colleagues who has experienced running conditions in the South mentioned, this kind of weather is deceptive. People think, well it is only in the mid 70's and it's not that humid, also low to mid 70's, and then, with the strong breeze, it does not feel that hot. But those are the conditions where hydration is very important and the risk of heat-related problems is real. One of the top M50-54 runners actually collapsed due to heat problems and had to be taken to a local hospital for observation. Two Women in their 50's suffered from dehydration. Both had to jog it in; one of those two was also taken to a nearby hospital for observation. Many runners mentioned to me that after the first 5 miles, they basically cut their pace way back. There were, no doubt, others who suffered from dehydration and had to jog it in. But you know Masters runners! Challenging weather may slow them down, but they still compete! There were so many thrilling races on Sunday and races within races. Let us get right to them!

Credit for All Photos: Jason Timochko


MEN Everyone knew the Men's field was one of the strongest in years. Riley Cook South Weber, UT and Benjamin Bruce HOKA Naz Elite  were the headliners, having just moved up from the Open Elite ranks this year. Cook had a feather in his cap already from winning the USATF Masters Ten Mile Championships at Sacramento. He came in ahead of Sergio Reyes who moved into the masters ranks earlier in the year and had won the Masters Championship race at Cross Country Nationals at San Diego in January. This would be the baptism of fire for Bruce. And Jesse Davis Indiana Elite, who had won the Club Cross, Half Marathon and 10 Km Masters National Championships already this year, was going after his third win! He won the Masters Half Marathon Championship with a 1:09:45 over a hilly course in Syracuse. The following are some of the athletes who might press those three for the podium. David Angell Roanoke Valley VA has won multiple overall Masters National Championships in the years from 2017-2019 but rehabbed a heel injury after last fall. This was his first National Championship of 2022, but he had three fine outings earlier in the year including a 33:38 10K at Clarksburg, WV.  Darryl Brown Greater Philadelphia ran a sterling 2:19:26 at the Houston Marathon just before Covid restrictions started and showed he had weathered the pandemic with a fine 52:46 at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. Aged 39 then, his time was faster than the winning Masters time. Fabian Daza Garden /State clocked 1:10:31 at the Dick's Pittsburgh Marathon HM; Dickson Mercer Pacers Running-Greater Washington DC finished 5th overall at this race last year and won the 40-44 division at the Cherry Blossom Run in 54:07. John Poray Indiana Elite ran 33:05 to capture 2nd place at the USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in late April.

Davis's modus operandi so far has been to 'drive the bus' from the front of the race and dare all rivals to stay with him until they could not anymore. This would be his first race where he was not necessarily the presumptive favorite. Would he follow the same strategy? At Sacramento, Cook had gone out hard, let the leader, Reyes, go after a few miles and then swept past him in the last third of the race. 

On Sunday, as soon as the gun sounded, Cook went out hard, with Bruce and Davis right with him. They crossed the mile mark at 4:54, 4:55, and 4:56. 

Masters Lead Pack One Mile Into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships- From Right Benjamin Bruce #321 Riley Cook #335 Jesse Davis #346 (with 2 Open-NJ athletes in tow) 

Brown, Daza, Mercer and Poray were in a chase pack 70 meters back from the trio and, after another 25

Chase Pack- One Mile into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships - From Left: 1st row Dickson Mercer #404 Darryl Brown #320 2nd row Fabian Eduardo Daza black&yellow singlet John Poray black singlet

meters, Angell and then 15 meters further, Zeha. 

Chase Pack #2 - 1 Mile into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships - From Right 1st Row David Angell #305 Aaron Totten-Lancaster #261 2nd row Mike Cole black singlet Jerry Snider #439 (along with an Open NJ athlete)

Cook kept the pedal down through the 2nd mile, hitting it in 9:48, and Bruce was the only one to stay with him. Davis realized he had pushed too hard on a warm day and eased back slightly, falling 40 meters behind by the 2-mile mark. That was probably a good decision, but the result was that he was in 'no man's land' running alone for the next 5 miles. Mercer and Brown were running in tandem 90 meters behind Davis. It was six more seconds back to Daza and Poray, and another 5 back to Angell, with Zeha keeping everyone in sight another six seconds back.

Cook was able to cover the next two miles in 10:06. They were out of the historical military housing part of the course where they turned back on the long grind back to the start. Cook may have sensed that Bruce wasn't breathing on his neck quite as much as earlier. He sure as heck was not looking around to check. They were flying, Cook a few meters ahead of Bruce! All the leaders were spread out into single file now. Davis was almost 200 meters behind the two leaders. It was another hundred meters back to Brown and another 40 to Mercer. Daza was 40 meters back from Mercer, with Poray and Angell together 15 meters back. And Zeha had inched closer, now just 25 meters behind those two. When they passed the final water station with a mile and a half to go, Cook was starting to look like the eventual winner. Bruce was still trying to stay with him, but the gap was a bit larger. Davis was still in third, 250 meters back, and 70 meters ahead of Brown. Mercer now trailed Brown by a hundred meters, with Daza still lingering 40 meters back from Mercer. Zeha's moderate early pace was now working in his favor as he was able to close on and then pass Poray and Angell, moving into 7th, 60 meters behind Daza, and 5 meters ahead of Poray, with ten meters back to Angell. They surged past the water station, turned left and faced the long straightaway mile to the finish. Cook was energized, and pushed the pace again, widening the gap back to Bruce.  Bruce was not threatened for first but no longer had much hope of the win. Cook took care of business, crossing the finish line first in 38:20. it was not the time he was expecting to run but it was the time that got the job done on a difficult day at the office! 

Riley Cook approaches the Finish Line and the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km National Championships

Bruce took second in 38:38. 

Ben Bruce Claims the Silver Medal at his first Masters National Championship

On this day, Brown's strategy worked out well. He pulled back 9 seconds on Davis in mile 7 and then flew over the last 0.45 miles in 2:32, the fastest of anyone in the field. That carried him past Davis and into third in 39:43, a podium finish at his first National Masters Championship! 

Darryl Brown Takes Third Place at the 2022 USATF Masters National 12 Km Championships

Davis gritted his teeth and hung on to 4th place, despite the early pace. No one else was close. It was a half-minute before the next runner finished. Daza claimed 5th in 40:27, with Mercer holding on for 6th in 40:43. Angell closed strongly but Zeha was able to keep him at bay, taking 7th in 40:57 with Angell 8th in 41 minutes flat. Poray was ten seconds back in 9th place. Mark Andrews Genesee Valley Harriers, Greater Rochester, NY was the sole 50+ athlete to crack the top 10, with a superb 41:26. It was his best performance at a Masters National Championship since he claimed third Overall at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta in 2019.

Riley Cook 38:20     Benjamin Bruce 38:38     Darryl Brown 39:43 

WOMEN The Women's race was more interesting for its age distribution. The top seven finishers in the men's race were all either 40 or 41. In the Women's race the top 7 included two athletes in their 50's and one in the 45-49 division, not to mentions a 59-year-old who finished 9th! Top contenders included Fiona Bayly 55 New York, NY, Jacqueline Cooke 44 Impala Racing-SF Bay Area, Abby Dean 51 Greater Philadelphia, Karen Dos Santos 41 Shore AC-NJ, Sara Girotto 46 Philadelphia Masters, Kristen Prendergast 41 Shore AC, and Jeannie Sullivan Clarendon Hills IL. The gun sounded and the runners were off, the women starting alongside the men. Once things settled down, it was Girotto leading the way through the 1 Mile mark, just before the righthand turn and the first Water Station. 

Early Leaders for Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships-1 Mile In--From Right: Sara Girotto #368 Michelle Rohl #428 Fiona Bayly Orange Visor

She was followed by Bayly and Michelle Rohl 56 Greater Philadelphia, running side-by-side, with Dean and Ingrid Walters 50 Janes Elite Santa Monica CA, a couple of strides back. 

Early Chase Pack for Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships-1 Mile In--From Right: Abby Dean blue singlet Ingrid Walters #448 Kristen Prendergast #221

Right behind them was Prendergast, with Cooke about 30 meters back from her, and Sullivan another 15, 

Jacqueline Cooke - 1 Mile into Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships

followed by Dos Santos and Alison Schwalm.

From Left: Karen Dos Santos and Alison Schwalm

By the time they were heading into the historical military housing portion of the park, it was Girotto and Bayly exchanging the lead from time to time. There was a gap back to Dean and Prendergast. Dean had hit her first mile in 5:52, her second in 6:06. Her third mile was 6:16. Rohl, and perhaps Walters, were having trouble with the heat and had slowed their paces. On the long grind back toward the finish line, Girotto moved in front of Bayly by a couple of strides. Prendergast and Dean started to move up; Dean matched her third mile pace in each of the following four miles, while others were struggling. Prendergast passed Bayly between Miles 5 and 6 and then moved past Girotto into the lead. Dean passed Bayly just before the last water stop at Mile 6 and then moved past Girotto into 2nd somewhere in the 7th mile. Prendergast held it together and crossed the finish line in 1st with a fine 46:07. 

Kristen Prendergast Claims the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

Dean finished a half minute later, claiming 2nd with a 46:44, just 7 seconds ahead of Girotto. It was Prendergast's first victory at a National Masters Championship. Dean had her best overall National Championship finish since 2014 when she finished 2nd in the 10 Km Masters Championships. 
Abby Dean speeds to the Finish Line and Second Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

And Girotto continues the upward climb she began a year ago. She ran two minutes faster this year and finished 8 places higher! She finished 9th overall in Atlanta at the 5 Km National Championships and 14th at the Half Marathon. She almost made the podium at Rochester, finishing 4th overall. Girotto nailed it this time, her first podium at a Masters National Championship! 

Sara Girotto Kicks in To Finish Third Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

Bayly held it together, finishing 4th in 47:39, just three seconds ahead of Dos Santos, who had just 5 seconds on a fast-closing Sullivan. 

Fiona Bayly keeps Karen Dos Santos at Bay With a Finishing Kick-Bayly 4th and Dos Santos 5th Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

A 6th place at a National Championship must have made Sullivan's trip back to Chicago highly enjoyable. 

Jeannie Sullivan captures 6th Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Cooke took 7th a minute after Sullivan in 48:35. Not only did she finish 7th overall, Cooke also led her Impala 40+ team to an important podium finish. 

Jacqueline Cooke takes 7th Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track-Georgia capped off a year where she moved from the Track to the Cross Country turf and then the roads, gaining fitness with her training and confidence with each outing. Her 8th place finish this year was ten places higher than she could achieve last year. 

Euleen Josiah-Tanner finishes 8th Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Rohl was in the lead pack until the heat got to her; she had to stop by the side of the road and recover for a bit. She found she could jog, so jogged into the finish so her team could benefit from her finishing position.

Dean summed up the feelings of many athletes, noting that, "I love the competition at the Masters National Championships; I am definitely planning on competing at next year's events as long as I can stay healthy."

Kristen Prendergast 46:07     Abby Dean 46:44     Sara Girotto 46:51


WOMEN 40-44 This division was covered in the Overall recap. Prendergast, Dos Santos, Sullivan and Cooke went 1-2-3-4. In addition, Lauren Jackson Shore AC claimed 5th in 50:26.

45-49 Sara Girotto was leading the race overall until she was passed in the last 2 kilometers. She was way ahead of others in her 45-49 division and had no trouble coming home with the win. Her 46:51 effort left her winning the division by well over 600 meters. It was quite a race for the remaining podium spots. Jody Buyyounouski Impala Racing finished 4th in 45-49 here last year, with a 50:07, and also finished 4th at the Masters 10-Mile Championships in Sacramento in early April. Susanne Cranz-Mileva Raritan Valley-NJ finished 9th last year in 51:47. Patricia Heppelmann Greater Philadelphia did not compete here last year, but her 1:06:50 at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run proved that she would be competitive. Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track-Georgia finished 6th last year in 50:45. That was impressive, considering it was her first long road race at a Masters National Championship. Subsequently she was able to finish 6th at the Masters Ten-Mile Championships in Sacramento. Those efforts gave her the confidence to register for the Half Marathon at the WMA Championships. Her 1:26:09 performance there suggested she would definitely be a factor in this race. Not only was Josiah-Tanner a factor, she handled the warm conditions better than anyone other than Girotto. Perhaps training in Georgia helped?! She took 2nd in 49:48, finishing over a minute ahead of Cranz-Mileva. 

Suzanne Cranz-Mileva closes fast to take 3rd in the 45-49 Division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Heppelmann edged Buyyounouski by 12 seconds for 4th place, clocking 51:58. Buyyounouski would have loved to finish higher, but was happy that she helped put her Impala team on the 40+ podium. 

Sara Girotto 46:51     Euleen Josiah-Tanner 49:48     Susanne Cranz-Mileva 50:54

50-54 Abby Dean finished 2nd Overall out of this division, taking the Division Championship at the same time. Kimberly Aspholm Garden State-NJ finished 3rd here last year in 49:57. Samantha Forde Impala Racing- SF Bay Area ran a 32:26 8K in San Jose CA on April 24th, age grade equivalent to a 49:58. Her 38:54 in the Wharf to Wharf 6 Miler was even better. And she finished 4th in 50-54 at Atlanta in the Masters 5 Km Championships in 20:22. Mary King Ft Worth TX area finished 2nd in the Road Mile Championships in Rochester, clocking 5:40. She apparently ran a 20:25 5 Km in March. It is hard to project a 12 Km performance from a Mile and a 5K, but King has distance runner speed for sure! Ingrid Walters finished 3rd in the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, clocking a nifty 18:53 in hilly Atlanta. She followed that with a 4th in the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento in 1:04:26.

Dean, with hopes of making the Overall podium, wasted no time once the gun sounded. But Walters who was eager for a strong showing herself, went with her. That may have proven to be a mistake. Forde, who went out at a more moderate pace, was able to finish strong, clocking 50:22 and generating an 80-meter gap back to the 3rd place finisher. 

Samantha Forde motors to the Finish Line and 2nd Place in 50-54 at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

King claimed her 2nd consecutive podium finish at a Masters National Championship. Aspholm finished 4th in 51:54, with Walters in 5th. I learned after the Championships that Walters had suffered from dehydration and jogged in the last mile so that her team would benefit from her time; she was the third runner to score for the Janes! That's toughness for you!

Abby Dean 46:44     Samantha Forde 50:22     Mary King 50:45

55-59 Fiona Bayly, who finished 4th Overall, took this division with over 600 meters to spare. It was a much tighter race for the rest of the podium; runners 2 through 6 came across the finish line within a two-minute span. Mimi Fallon HFC Striders - Greater Boston , one of the few runners from New England to make the trip without her team, finished 5th here last year in 51:11. Her 42:43 at the Beach to Beacon 10K in August showed that her fitness was good heading into this Championship. Tania Fischer Janes Elite-So Cal came with her team across country to compete for this Championship and National Grand Prix points! Known nationally for her 5 km sped and her prowess on the XC turf, Fischer turned a few heads when she finished 3rd in this division at the Masters Ten-Mile Championships in Sacramento. Her time of 1:07:52 suggested that she would contend for the podium here as well. Lori Kingsley Willow Street AC-Greater Albany showed her endurance credentials with a 1:06:59 at the Stockade-a-thon 15K last November, and her speed with a 25:26 4-mile effort on the 4th of July. Suzanne La Burt Shore AC-NJ took 2nd in the division here last year in 49:38, matched that 2nd place at the Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse, and bettered them both with a win at the Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham with a sparkling 40:06. Mary Lynch Janes Elite-So Cal was in New Jersey primarily to provide depth for her team; any individual glory would be frosting on the cake! Her 41:46 10K last October and her 6th place division finish at Club Cross in Tallahassee shows Lynch has to be taken seriously as a podium threat.

After the gun sounded and Bayly took off with the leaders, the others sorted themselves and settled into an early pace that had La Burt leading at the 1 Mile mark, but with the two Janes Elite teammates, Lynch and Fischer, tucked in behind her. There was a considerable gap back to Kingsley and another large gap back to Fallon. With the warm conditions affecting different runners differently, the first mile was not necessarily a good guide to final position. In this case, though, the early positioning held up, at least for La Burt. Ahead of all but Bayly at the 1 Mile, that was also true at the 12 Km mark. La Burt crossed the finish line in 50:13, nailing 2nd place with almost a minute to spare. 

Suzanne La Burt flies to the finish, claiming 2nd in the 55-59 division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

Lynch was not able to stick with Fischer, who claimed 3rd with a 100-meter margin. Fallon worked her way up through the field, taking 4th in 51:33. Kingsley had more left than Lynch at the end, edging her for 5th by just 13 seconds!

Fiona Bayly 47:39     Suzanne La Burt 50:13     Tania Fischer 51:06

60-64 Going into this race, I figured it would be a possible1-2-3 for the Greater Philadelphia juggernaut of Lorraine JasperDoreen McCoubrie, and Mary Swan New York. It would not be their first; that is the way they finished in Syracuse at the Half Marathon Championships. And except for the Impala's Stella Gibbs, who upset the 10 Km applecart in Dedham leaving them as 2-3-4, it would have been a second sweep. Jasper has led the way at 10 Km and below this year, with McCoubrie taking over once we get beyond 10 Km. McCoubrie and Jasper finished 3-4 in the 55-59 division last year in 50:57 and 51:03. If they could get close to those times, it did not seem anyone else could stay with them. Both Jasper who ran faster than the existing 60-64 American Record, and McCoubrie, who was not far off, ran really well at Rochester. McCoubrie did her usual triple win at the Outdoor Championships at Ames IA, winning at the 800M, 1500M, and 5000M. Jasper only competed in the 400M there and finished 2nd, by a fraction of a second, but that is probably not her strongest distance. That tells you something about Jasper's prowess when you can describe her being the 2nd fastest in the country at a distance showing it was not her strong suit. Traveling all the way to Ames, IA and then running only the 400 Meters does raise the question of a possible injury. Swan finished 5th last year, but at 53:35 it seemed as if either Mary Cass Greater Boston or Lauren Leslie Rhode Island from the Liberty AC might stay with her. Swan also ran well at Dedham and Rochester and, in addition, had a fine outing at the Utica Boilermaker 15K in August, clocking 1:06:55. Swan also ran well at the WMA's just missing a medal in the Cross Country. Cass and Leslie would be worthy rivals though. Cass had finished just 17 seconds behind Swan at Dedham and she and Leslie had finished 6th and 7th at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta that Swan skipped.  

McCoubrie wasted no time moving to the front. By the time they hit the 1 Mile mark, she had a clear lead. Leslie came next, after a gap, and the there was another gap back to her teammate, Cass. Swan was right behind Cass, and then a gap back to Mimi Newcomer F&M Track-Southeastern PA with another small gap to Jasper. Anyone watching at this point would realize something was not right with Jasper. She would typically be well ahead of Swan, right with McCoubrie. Apparently, Jasper was 'taking one for the team' at a time when she was nursing an injury.

McCoubrie ran into no problems and kept it going, claiming the win with more than 80 meters to spare.

Doreen McCoubrie keeps the Hammer Down to Capture the 60-64 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ    

Cass moved up with her teammate, Leslie, but at some point, Leslie had to let Cass go. Cass claimed 2nd in 51:56, with 160 meters back to Leslie in third. Swan held her position, claiming 4th in 53:46. She enjoyed a gap of over 400 meters to the closest pursuer. Newcomer took 5th in 55:56. Jasper finished two minutes later in 6th, helping her team toward their goal.

Doreen McCoubrie 51:35     Mary Cass 51:56     Lauren Leslie 52:39

65-69 Nora Cary Shore AC- NJ set the American 65-69 Record here last year when she ran 51:09. Cary apparently ran into some injury difficulties earlier this year. Her times at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham and at the Falmouth Road Race were very good, but not quite up to her standard. That seemed to extend into her recent 5 Km outings. But there was nothing to suggest she would have any trouble putting distance between her and her rivals. Kitty Musante Shore AC-FL won the 5Km Championship in Atlanta in 22:20, which is competitive with Cary's recent 5K times. But a 5 Km is not a 12 Km. Musante's time at the Gate River Run in March, over 15 Km, was a more modest 1:14:24. That is equivalent to a sub-1-hour 12 Km, but not a sub-55 minute one. Alda Cossi Liberty AC-Greater Boston came to run for her team, but she was also a contender. She took the Silver medal at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham in 49:32. That time suggests running a 12 Km in around an hour, if conditions are similar, would be possible. Should any those three be off their game, either Susan Stirrat Shore AC-NJ, who finished 3rd in this division here last year in 1:07:22, or Antoinette Marmora Clifton Road Runners-NJ would be right there to take the spot. Stirrat finished over half a minute ahead of Marmora in the Tom Fleming Sunset Classic 5 Mile run in late June, so I guess that gives her a slight edge.

Cary left no doubts about who was going for the win! By the 1 Mile Mark she already had a big gap on Musante, with a smaller gap from Musante back to Cossi. Marmora and Stirrat were well back from Cossi and the entire field was spread out. The order did not change during the race. Apparently, everyone in this division made the right allowance for the weather and the risk of dehydration. Cary won with a margin of over 600 meters. 

Nora Cary Captures her Second Consecutive 65-69 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ     

Musante took 2nd when Cossi still had over a kilometer to run. Cossi was happy to score for her team; the Bronze medal was frosting! This was Marmora's day; she took 4th in 1:09:25, three minutes ahead of Stirrat who was, no doubt, happy to survive a tough day on the roads.

Nora Cary 54:10     Kitty Musante 57:40     Alda Cossi 1:04:26

70-74 Jeannie Rice, the 2019 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, was the favorite coming into the race but scratched. I am not sure if she needed to focus all her attention on an upcoming Marathon or if there was a different reason. In her absence, Suzanne Ray Red Lizard-Oregon, who won the 65-69 Half Marathon Championship in Syracuse in 1:49:21, became the favorite. No stranger to the longer distances, Ray has multiple National podiums over the years, at distances from the 15Km to the Half Marathon. Her most recent Half Marathon was at the WMA Championships in Finland where she earned a Silver medal, clocking 1:45:50. JoAnn Coffee Raritan Valley-NJ finished 3rd here last year in 1:06:25. Her 57:14 at a 10K in April backs up her status as a podium contender. Ray's Red Lizard teammate, Jeanette Groesz Oregon, has won many titles on the Cross Country turf and on the roads at shorter distances. She finished 6th at the 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento in 1:28:13 and ran a 1:50:41 Half Marathon in Oregon in June. The third runner for Team Red Lizard, Cande Olsen NJ could wind up on the podium if she had a good day. Olsen finished 3rd in 70-74 at the Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee. Her most recent 10K was a 1:01:16 as part of a triathlon. Presumably she could run faster without the swimming and biking, but how much fasters?

Groesz, who is nothing if not game, went out as if she were competing for the 65-69 podium. One mile into the race, she had a 50-meter gap on her teammate, Ray. Coffee was over a hundred meters back from Groesz but over 100 meters ahead of Olsen. The only change was an important one. Ray caught up with and passed her teammate in the 5th mile and built the lead to over 400 meters by the finish. This was Ray's 2nd National Championship this season. 

Suzanne Ray takes first in the 70-74 Division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ       

Groesz kept things going after Ray passed her and claimed 2nd place. When Groesz crossed the line, the third-place finisher, Coffee, still had 800 meters to race. Olsen completed the race in 4th, three minutes behind Coffee, giving Team Red Lizard the points they needed. 

Suzanne Ray 1:03:17     Jeanette Groesz 1:05:51     JoAnn Coffee 1:10:18

75-79 Barbara Donelik Shore AC NJ finished 2nd here last year in 1:05:01, 1:04:52 net. Her 5K's this summer were not as fast but her slowest 5K was 26:49 in June. Kohut, in contrast, did not run here last year, but her most recent 5K was a 31:16, also in June. Her 1:51:30 in the Parkway Classic Run over 10 miles also gave no hint that Kohut would be likely to break 1:20 in a 12 Km race. Did Kohut ever surprise me! Donelik was not up to her pace of last year, but she still broke 1:10. I would have thought that would win easily.  Kohut crossed the line in 1:07:33, less than a minute ahead of Donelik. That is Kohut's first win at a National Masters Championship. 

Cheryl Kohut heading to the Finish Line and the 75-79 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ    

Perhaps there will be more in her future!

Cheryl Kohut 1:07:33     Barbara Donelik 1:08:22

80-84 This division was likely to be one of the more closely contested ones. Heide Moebius won here last year in 1:17:38. Her recent efforts at the National Senior Games in May and a 52:40 5-Miler in June suggested she might be pushed to break 1:20. Sandra Folzer finished 2nd to Moebius last year in 1:20:49. Folzer's 1:43:26 at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in May suggested she might even be able to break 1:20 on an equivalent 12 Km course. Later in August Folzer ran a 33:18 5K, which cast some doubt on her ability to break 1:25. Moebius started out cautiously, water bottle in hand. At the 1 Mile mark, she was 70 meters behind Folzer. Moebius continued her cautious approach, figuring, perhaps, that it was more important to survive and race another day than try for Gold over Silver on this day. Folzer took the win in 1:24:25; 

Sandra Folzer Strides Confidently to the Finish Line and the 80-84 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ     

Moebius was 400 meters back in 2nd place.

Sandra Folzer 1:24:25     Heide Moebius 1:28:33

85-89 Joyce Hodges-Hite was unopposed, taking the victory in 2:03:21.

That's it for the Races for the Overall Men's and Women's and the Women's Age Divisiion National 12 Km Championships. My Next (Second) Posted Article will cover the Men's Age Division Championships, the Age Grading and Team Championships!

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