by Mike Scott
Leonard Korir successfully defended his USATF XC crown on a sunny, dry day in Tallahassee’s Apalachee Regional Park.
The previous week’s announcement of 3-time Olympian Galen Rupp’s entry had generated quite a bit of buzz ahead of the non-World Championships year edition of this fixture.
Rupp—winner of last fall’s Chicago Marathon—rarely ventures into cross country races, preferring to test himself over the firmer track and road surfaces.
The 10K race started slowly, with two dozen contenders still in the hunt after the completion of the first 3K loop. Mountainrunning specialist Joe Gray led a large pack at 6K with 20 remaining in contention.
The 31-year-old Rupp surged into the lead at 8K, with defending champ Leonard Korir, also 31, staying just behind as the field began to string out.
Rupp attempted to break away over the final hill, but was unable to gap the Iona alum as the duo crested the rise with 550m to go.
Korir kicked past Rupp in the final 300 to win 29:16.6–29:17.8.
“I know Galen Rupp is training for Boston, doing a lot of miles,” said Korir. “I have a little speed because I am doing less mileage. I think I might win because I have quicker legs.”
Rupp was pleased with his effort despite his runner-up performance: “Since I’m running the marathon now I don’t have too many opportunities to really race and the goal for today was to really work on my finish.”
Like the men’s race, the women’s contest came down to two athletes battling for the gold medal.
Beijing World Champs 10K bronze medalist Emily Infeld and ’15 NCAA cross country champion Molly Seidel separated themselves from the field after 8K and dueled over the final loop.
Seidel—who demonstrated that she’s recovered from two cracked ribs suffered in an incident the day before she placed 3rd at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country— stayed close to Infeld until Infeld broke away over the final hill and ran alone to the finish.
“I’m just really happy. I feel kind of like I have been on the cusp for a bit, so it feels really nice to finally win one.
Infeld won in 33:19, followed by Seidel in 33:23.
The Junior titles convincingly went to Stanford’s Connor Lane and Ashley Tutt of Northern Illinois.
The meet will return to Tallahassee next February, when the competition will serve as the selection event for the World XC Championships in Denmark.
|— USATF XC Champs —|
Tallahassee, February 3—
Senior Men (10K): 1. Leonard Korir (USAr) 29:16.6; 2. Galen Rupp (Nik) 29:17.8; 3. Stanley Kebenei (Nik) 29:31.4; 4. Evan Jager (BowTC) 29:31.5;
5. Martin Hehir (unat) 29:33.6; 6. Biya Simbassa (unat) 29:34.4; 7. Aaron Braun (HokaNnAzE) 29:34.7; 8. Scott Fauble (HokaNnAzE) 29:39.3;
9. MJ Erb (unat) 29:42.3; 10. Haron Lagat (USAr) 29:46.5; 11. Joseph Gray (CNW) 29:53.1; 12. Augustus Maiyo (USAr) 29:53.7; 13. Aaron Nelson (Zap) 29:57.7;
14. Robert Cheseret (USAr) 30:01.9; 15. Elkanah Kibet (USAr) 30:03.7; 16. Reed Fischer (unat) 30:04.6; 17. Evans Kirwa (USAr) 30:05.5;
18. Brendan Gregg (HansBrk) 30:08.5; 19. Matthew Llano (HokaNnAzE) 30:11.0; 20. George Parsons (unat) 30:23.0.
Junior Men (8K): 1. Connor Lane (Stan) 25:04.7; 2. Tibebu Proctor (Wa) 25:12.1; 3. Michael Vernau (unat) 25:18.3; 4. Hunter Lucas (Mn) 25:22.0.
Senior Women (10K): 1. Emily Infeld (BowTC) 33:18.7; 2. Molly Seidel (Sauc) 33:22.1; 3. Stephanie Bruce (HokaNnAzE) 33:34.1;
4. Courtney Frerichs (BowTC) 33:55.1; 5. Emily Durgin (NBal) 33:56.9; 6. Susan Tanui (USAr) 34:39.0; 7. Katrina Spratford (NEDist) 34:45.3;
8. Obsie Birru (NEDist) 35:32.1; 9. Rachel Schilkowsky (rabbitNEDist) 35:49.0; 10. Sandie Raines (MamTC) 35:51.9; 11. Veronica Eder (RootsRP) 35:56.6; 12. Chelsea Blaase (HansBrk) 36:19.5.
Junior Women (6K): 1. Ashley Tutt (NnIl) 21:08.5; 2. Amanda Beach (Duke) 21:13.6; 3. Michaela Reinhart (Duke) 21:17.5; 4. Jasmine Turtle-Morales (Wings) 22:32.5; 5. Amanda Davis (NWn) 22:52.7.