Friday, December 12, 2008

Spokane welcomes USATF National Club Cross Country Championships...

2008 Olympic marathoner Brian Sell (left/file photo by Paul Merca) will lead the men of Hansons-Brooks as they seek their fifth team title, while the women of the Run Ohio Racing Team hope to win a second consecutive team crown Saturday, December 13 at the 2008 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at Plantes Ferry Recreation Park in Spokane, Washington.

In what could be one of the most competitive team competitions in the history of the event, the four-time team champions (2001-03, 2005) of Hansons-Brooks Distance Project from Rochester Hills, Mich., will face several of the nation's top club teams including Eugene, Ore.-based Oregon Track Club Elite, led by Will Leer, who was fourth in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Olympic Trials.

Also in the fray for the team title will be McMillan Elite from Flagstaff, Ariz., led by 2008 USA 15 km champion Andrew Carlson; and the Bowerman Athletic Club, which will be led by Max King, a two-time member of the Team USA World Cross Country squad. Due to recent injuries, defending champions ZAP Fitness are not expected to field a scoring team.

Challenging for the individual title will be recent NCAA Division II Cross Country Champion Scott Bauhs, who will represent the TRANSPORTS adidas Racing Team.

On the women's side, 2007 World Championships marathoner Ann Alyanak will lead the women's squad from the Run Ohio - Second Sole Racing Team as they defend their national title. Alyanak will be joined by last year's scoring members Leigh Daniel, Tara Storage, Kara Storage and Melissa Converse, along with newcomer Carmen Baxter.

The main challenges for the women's team title are expected to come from the women of New Balance Boston, led by the fourth-place finisher at this year's USA Women's 10 km Championship Rebecca Donoghue. The women of the Boston Athletic Association will also be on hand to seek their fourth team title at the event.

Masters action

More than 45 club teams will be represented in the masters events in Spokane. Among the leading teams will be the men of the Fluffy Bunny Track Club, led by defending individual 45-49 year-old champion Peter Magill, as they seek their second 40+ team title. The women's team race will see the the Impala Racing Team face-off with See Jane Run for the 40+ title.

The 11th annual USATF National Club Cross Country Championships features America's top post-collegiate club teams from across the United States vying for top honors and bragging rights as the nation's top cross country team. Close to 1,100 competitors are expected at the event, which features a 10-kilometer men's race and a 6-kilometer women's race. Clubs will compete for a total prize purse of $24,000, with $19,000 going to the top open teams.

Seattle area clubs, including Club Northwest, Eastside Runners, Snohomish Track Club, and the Seattle Running Company will field squads for Saturday's national championships.

Action at Plantes Ferry Recreation Park gets underway at 9:30 am with the community 6 km run. The masters women's 6 km starts at 10:30 am, followed by the masters men's 10 km at 11:30 am. The open women's 6 km begins at 12:45 pm, with the open men's 10 km concluding the day's activities at 1:30 pm.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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