Deep Elite Fields Head To U.S. XC Champs

Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan will be competing in the U.S. Cross Country Championships. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Olympians Matt Tegenkamp and Dathan Ritzenhein headline the men’s contingent.

From: USATF

Olympians Shalane Flanagan, Matt Tegenkamp, Dathan Ritzenhein and Kim Conley will be a part of loaded senior fields Saturday when Forest Park in St. Louis plays host to the USA Cross Country Championships.

This will be the second consecutive year Forest Park has hosted the USA Cross Country Championships. More information including a complete schedule and list of entered athletes can be found here.

Competition will include junior races for women (6K and men (8K), senior races for women (8K) and men (12K) along with masters races for women (6K) and men (8K). It will also serve as the first stop on the 2013 USA Running Circuit (USARC) and the top six finishers in each men’s and women’s junior and senior races will earn a spot on Team USA for the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships scheduled for March 24 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Fans will be able to follow a live webcast of the competition here.

In addition to the quartet of 2012 Olympians, other notable names slated to compete in St. Louis include Deena Kastor, Chris Derrick, Luke Puksedra, and defending champions Bobby Mack and Sara Hall.

Flanagan, who won bronze in the 10,000 meters at the 2008 Olympic Games, comes into Saturday’s race after placing 10th in London in the Olympic Games marathon. The 2011 USA Cross Country champion, Flanagan won a bronze medal two seasons ago at the World Cross Country Championships. She also holds three American records on the track.

Tegenkamp placed 19th in the Olympic Games 10,000m final in London. The American record holder for the 2-mile, Tegenkamp raced once on the USA Running Circuit in 2012 in winning the 20 km road title. Along with Ritzenhein, Tegenkamp belongs to an exclusive group that includes Bernard Lagat, Chris Solinsky and Bob Kennedy as the only Americans to break 13 minutes in the 5,000m.

After a fourth place finish at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon, Ritzenhein grabbed a spot in London in the 10,000m in 2012. He enters Saturday’s race having previously won three USA Cross Country titles (‘05, ‘08, ‘10). He also finished the 2012 season having recorded times in the top five in the U.S. in the 5,000m, 10,000m, half-marathon, marathon and 20 km.

Following her third place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Conley advanced to London as a member of Team USA in the 5,000m where she ran a personal best time of 15:14.48 in the qualifying rounds.

Kastor, who will turn 40 on Feb. 14, will make another appearance in the USA Cross Country Championship where she has won seven times. The 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist and two-time World Cross Country silver medalist, Kastor is also the American record holder in the half-marathon, marathon and 8 km distance and a five-time USA Outdoor champion in the 10,000m.

A 13-time NCAA Division I All-American competing for Stanford, Derrick placed fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10,000m. He also established the American junior record in the 5,000m in 2009 of 13:29.98.

Puskedra placed eighth in the U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m and finished as runner-up at the 2012 USA 20 km Championships.

The defending champion in the race, Mack also placed ninth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10,000m and first at the 2012 BUPA Edinburgh Cross Country Team Challenge. He also won the USA 8 km Road Championships in 2011.

Hall edged out Molly Huddle in a photo finish last year to win the USA Cross Country title. Hall is also a seven-time NCAA Division I All-American while at Stanford and won the steeplechase at the 2011 Pan American Games.

The women’s junior race will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the men’s junior competition is slated for 12:15 p.m. Below is a summary of some of the names to watch in the junior races Saturday.

Junior Women
Erin Finn – A senior at West Bloomfield (Mich.) H.S., Finn won the recent NACAC cross country championship and was 2nd at the 2011 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.

Kathryn Knight – A senior at North Central (Spokane, Wash.) H.S. placed third at the Nike Cross Country Championships and finished fourth at the 2012 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International junior women’s race.

Emily Stites – A freshman at William & Mary, who finished 26th at the NCAA championships and seventh at the 2012 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

Maddie Meyers – A University of Washington freshman who competed for Team USA at the 2011 World Youth Championships in the 2,000m steeplechase, setting a US high school record of 6:29.20.

Brianna Nerud – A Syracuse University freshman set the national high school record in the 3,000m steeplechase at 10:00.72 at the 2012 World Junior Championships and holds a personal best in the mile of 4:45.29.

Samantha George – A North Carolina State freshman, who placed fifth at the NACAC Cross Country Championships

Meghan McGovern – A William & Mary freshman, who placed sixth at NACAC Cross Country Championships.

Junior Men
Estevan De La Rosa – A junior at Arcadia (Calif.) H.S. won the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships young men’s race and finished second at 2012 Nike Cross Nationals. He finished second at the NACAC Cross Country Championships, and sixth at 2013 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

Craig Engels – A North Carolina State freshman, who placed sixth at the adidas Jim Ryun Mile in a personal best time of 4:03.96. He was also the 2012 Penn Relays high school mile winner.

Darren Fahy – A Georgetown University freshman, who was the 2012 USA Junior Outdoor 3,000m steeplechase champion.

Andrew Gardner – Placed ninth at the NACAC Cross Country Championships and fifth at 2012 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

Craig Nowak – An Oklahoma State freshman who placed third at the 2011 Nike Cross Nationals and finished third at 2013 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

Tony Smoragiewicz – Finished 11th at BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge meet.

Jacob Thompson – A senior at Louisville (Ken.) Holy Cross H.S., who was fifth at Foot Locker Nationals, also placed 12th at BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge.

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