Sara Hall Prevails At U.S. XC Champs

Sara Hall (right) and Molly Huddle battle to the finish line in the senior women's race. Photo: PhotoRun.net

A late-race surge paid off for her.

From: Running USA

Sara Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz.) and Bobby Mack (Raleigh, N.C.) each used late charges to outrun the competition as each won their first career USA Cross Country crowns Saturday at Forest Park in St. Louis.

The national turf championships consisted of six races for men’s and women’s categories, with national titles on the line for Junior (19 and under), Masters (40 and older) and Open divisions. The nation’s premier cross country event featured $35,000 in prize money.

Photo Gallery–U.S. Cross Country Championships: Senior Women’s Race

The Senior women’s 8K saw pre-race favorite Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.) take command of the lead pack that included Hall, five-time USA Cross Country team member Renee Metivier Baillie (Bend, Ore.), Liz Costello (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Laura Thweatt (Boulder, Colo.).

After 3K, Huddle held a one-step advantage over Hall, with Costello close behind. Over the final 2K loop, Huddle looked to be in charge but could never pull completely clear of Hall. Charging down the home straight, Hall, 28, made one final rally to edge Huddle at the line in a photo finish (left, PhotoRun). Hall and Huddle were both timed in 26 minutes, 51 seconds. Costello held on to finish third in 27:18.

“It was hard to kick in the last 300 meters like I normally would. I was having trouble on the muddier parts of the course. It’s an honor to be able to run longer distances this season, and I hope that it’s a good sign and that it will bode well for the rest of the year,” Hall said.

SENIOR MEN
In the final race of the day, Mack ran patiently behind Aaron Braun (Flagstaff, Ariz.) as they led over the 12K course a pack that included Josh Simpson (Morgantown, W.V.), Chris Rombough (St. Paul, Minn.) and Jeff Schirmer (Carbondale, Ill.).

Over the last kilometer, Mack, 27, made his move on the final hill on the course, pulling away to run 35:42 for a ten second win over Braun. Simpson took third in 36:04.

“I was feeling pretty smooth going over the last hill. I started to get the feel of the race over the last two loops. I wanted to make sure I had enough to finish strong. I was feeling confident in my finish at the end. I enjoy competing on a cross country course like this that is rolling unlike a golf course. I felt real comfortable today. I’d like to think that I’m versatile enough on the track and the roads to compete at this level,” Mack stated.

JUNIOR WOMEN
The Junior women’s 6K was the first of the day to determine the Team USA spots for NACAC, and University of Michigan freshman Shannon Osika waited patiently among a group of runners to earn her first national title, winning the race in a time of 21:05, while Margaret Drazba (St. Mary’s, W.V.) was runner-up in 21:08 and Macy Bricks (Clovis, Calif.) took third in 21:11.

JUNIOR MEN
In the Junior men’s 8K, Syracuse University freshman Jace Lowry (Paragon, Ind.) used the same strategy as Osika as he waited until the final hill with a group of five runners to attack and take home the victory, winning in a time of 24:55, three seconds up on the University of Minnesota duo of Adam Zutz (St. Francis, Minn.) and Aaron Bartnik (Eden Prairie, Minn.), who ran 24:58.

In addition to the national titles on the line in St. Louis, Open and Junior men and women also qualified to represent Team USA at the North American, Central American, Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships March 17 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS
National titles were also decided for Masters men and women at 8K in five-year age groups beginning at age 40 to 44.

The first championship race of the day saw Joanna Zieger, 41, (Boulder, Colo.) take the overall Masters women’s title, running 30:05 for a 16-second win over Jody Hawkins, 45, (Blooming Grove, Texas).

The overall Masters men’s title went to Christian Cushing-Murray, 44, (Santa Ana, Calif.) as he ran 26:09 for a three-second win over Rusty Snow, 42, (Santa Barbara, Calif.).

The top age-graded Masters runners were Kevin Miller, 50, (Olathe, Kan.) and Kathryn Martin, 60, (Northport, N.Y.) who ran 26:54 (age-grade 90.13%) and 33:44 (age-grade 92.25%) respectively.

Highlights of the USA Cross Country Championships are available in cooperation with RunnerSpace.com at: www.USARunningCircuit.com

The 2013 edition of the USA Cross Country Championships will also be held at Forest Park in St. Louis.

USA Cross Country Championships
St. Louis, MO, Saturday, February 11, 2012

MEN – 12K
1) Bobby Mack (NC), 35:42, $3500
2) Aaron Braun (AZ), 35:52, $2000
3) Josh Simpson (WV), 36:04, $1400
4) Chris Rombough (MN), 36:09, $1000
5) Jeff Schirmer (IL), 36:16, $600
6) Elliot Krause (WI), 36:22, $500
7) Chris Landry (MI), 36:29, $400
8) Kyle Alcorn (AZ), 36:55, $300
9) Matt Williams (CO), 36:58, $200
10) Mark Parrish (FL), 37:00, $100

WOMEN – 8K
1) Sara Hall (AZ), 26:51, $3500
2) Molly Huddle (RI), 26:51, $2000
3) Liz Costello (TN), 27:18, $1400
4) Renee Metivier Baillie (OR), 27:23, $1000
5) Laura Thweatt (CO), 27:28, $600
6) Jamie Cheever (MN), 27:48, $500
7) Stephanie Garcia (TN), 27:59, $400
8) Hilary Orf (MO), 28:02, $300
9) Ariana Fisher (OH), 28:03, $200
10) Kaitlin Gregg (CA), 28:07, $100

NOTE: A $1000 stipend will be awarded to each of the 5 Open men and 5 Open women who represent Team USA at the March 17 NACAC Cross Country Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Complete results and more at: www.usatf.org/events/2012/USAXCChampionships/results.asp

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