USATF Women’s XC — Houlihan Tops At Longer Distance

As the women raced 10K for the first time, Shelby Houlihan (275) pulled away from Molly Huddle (278) to win by 8 seconds. Also in the lead pack here (l–r): Aliphine Tuliamuk (blue jersey), Karissa Schweizer (429), Amy Cragg (178) & Marielle Hall. (MIKE SCOTT)

Tallahassee, Florida, February 02—The loaded USATF XC Championships women’s field featured Olympians Molly Huddle (who hadn’t raced cross country since ’12), Shannon Rowbury (no cross since ’05), Amy Cragg, Marielle Hall & Shelby Houlihan, as well as ’17 national champ Aliphine Tuliamuk, steeple AR holder Courtney Frerichs, road standouts Kellyn Taylor & Stephanie Bruce and former NCAA champion Karissa Schweizer.

The beauty of cross country is the opportunity for middle-distance runners to battle with marathoners over hill and dale, and Tallahassee ’19 certainly displayed top American talent throughout that range.

Huddle, Hall, and Houlihan led a pack of 10 through the first 2M loop in 10:29, with Tuliamuk, Taylor, Schneider, Cragg and Schweizer—plus former world team members Sarah Pagano and Elaina Tabb—all in contact. Huddle, Houlihan, Cragg, Schweizer, Tuliamuk, and Hall were together as they passed the line to conclude the second loop at 19:55 for 6km. Tuliamuk forced the pace over the third lap, leading Huddle, Houlihan, and Hall through 8km in 26:31.

Huddle—in search of her first ever national cross title—pressed the pace over the next kilo but was unable to open up any daylight over Houlihan, who was better known as a middle-distance runner during her days at Arizona State, during which she won the ’14 NCAA 1500. Showing no hesitation during her first race—and the first nationals staged at the 6M-plus distance—Houlihan powered away up the final hill with 600m to go and pulled away during the homestretch to win by 8 seconds over Huddle, 32:47–32:56.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into it,” Houlihan told USATF.tv following her victory. “I wanted to win, but I didn’t know if realistically that was going to happen. I felt coming into it that I was very fit, very aerobically strong—but so is everyone else! I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’m happy to come away with the win.”

Hall (32:57) finished 3rd, just a tick behind Huddle, while Tuliamuk (33:04) placed 4th. Bowerman TC athletes Cragg (33:18), Frerichs (33:25), and Schweizer (33:29) claimed places 5–7, while Bruce (33:30), Anne-Marie Blaney (33:35), and Pagano (33:44) rounded out the top 10. The Bowerman TC easily won the team title over Hoka One One NAZ Elite, 12 points to 27.

Huddle and Tuliamuk, both training for spring marathons, declined positions on Team USA for the World Cross. The Bowerman contingent—Houlihan, Hall, Cragg, Frerichs, and Schweizer—waited for coach Jerry Schumacher to look over their training/racing plans to decide whether they would represent Team USA in Aarhus at the end of March.


USATF WOMEN’S XC RESULTS

Tallahassee, Florida, February 02—

Teams

1. Nike Bowerman TC 12; 2. HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite 27.

Individuals

10K: 1. Shelby Houlihan (BowTC) 32:47; 2. Molly Huddle (Sauc) 32:56; 3. Marielle Hall (BowTC) 32:57; 4. Aliphine Tuliamuk (HokaNAZ) 33:04; 5. Amy Cragg (BowTC) 33:18; 6. Courtney Frerichs (BowTC) 33:25; 7. Karissa Schweizer (BowTC) 33:29; 8. Stephanie Bruce (HokaNAZ) 33:30; 9. Anne-Marie Blaney (HansB) 33:35; 10. Sarah Pagano (unat) 33:44;

11. Elaina Tabb (BAA) 33:47; 12. Rachel Schneider (UArm) 34:04; 13. Kellyn Taylor (HokaNAZ) 34:16; 14. Katrina Spratford (NED) 34:19; 15. Hannah Everson (USAF) 34:20; 16. Jessica Tonn (unat) 34:24; 17. Samantha Bluske (unat) 34:33; 18. Laura Thweatt (Sauc) 34:37; 19. Breanna Sieracki (TMn) 34:38; 20. Allie Buchalski (BB) 34:41;

21. Grayson Murphy (HokaNAZ) 34:48; 22. Shannon Rowbury (NikOP) 34:49; 23. Lauren Larocco (Port) 34:54; 24. Catarina Rocha (unat) 34:59; 25. Olivia Pratt (HansB) 35:07; 26. Samantha Nadel (BAA) 35:08; 27. Rosa Moriello (Heartb) 35:13; 28. Bethany Sachtleben (unat) 35:26; 29. Emily Durgin (UArm) 35:32; 30. Erika Kemp (BAA) 35:43;

31. Chelsea Blaase (HansB) 35:48; 32. Susan Tanui (USAr) 36:01; 33. Sandie Raines (OnMam) 36:03; 34. Aisling Cuffe (Sauc) 36:04; 35. Tansey Lystad (unat) 36:13; 36. Marisa Howard (IdDP) 36:41; 37. Emma Spencer (TrackH) 37:23; 38. Stefanie Slekis (unat) 38:00; 39. Paige Duca (BC) 38:04; 40. Jennifer Hannigan (USAr) 38:05.

Junior Women

6K: 1. Nicole Clermont (BC) 21:14; 2. Kayla Smith (BC) 21:19; 3. Riley Rigdon (OkSt) 21:27; 4. Grace Ping (MnHS) 21:27; 5. Savannah Shaw (NCSt) 21:29; 6. Heidi Nielson (TxHS) 21:31; 7. Rachel McCardell (NWn) 21:45; 8. Samantha Corman (Gtn) 21:52; 9. Noelle Adriaens (MiHS) 21:53; 10. Katie Dammer (Gtn) 22:15. □

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