Saturday, February 2, 2013

High schoolers Katie Knight and Andrew Gardner make USA junior cross country team...

ST. LOUIS--Spokane residents Katie Knight (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Andrew Gardner earned spots on the USA junior cross country team at Saturday's USA Cross Country Championships at Forest Park.

In the day's opening race, Knight, a senior at North Central HS who will sign her national letter of intent next week to attend the University of Washington, was in a pack of five runners that included future Husky teammate Maddie Meyers, and behind eventual winner Emily Stites (20:28) of William & Mary, and runner-up Michigan high schooler Erin Finn (20:49), last week's NACAC champ

On the final 2k lap, the group of four dropped Meyers, as Knight finished the 6k course in a final time of 21:10 to grab fourth place, just behind Colorado frosh Carrie Verdon (21:09). 

Meyers ended up seventh in a time of 21:30.

"It's a great feeling to be able to run with those college girls and Erin Finn, and I'm excited to be a part of this team," said Knight.

On gaining international experience (she traveled to Scotland in 2012 as part of the USA junior team), she said she learned quite a bit about what to expect in an international meet, adding that she was mentored by Stanford's Aisling Cuffe, who was on the world championships team two years ago.

She said that she is excited to sign with the University of Washington on national letter of intent day next week.

In the junior men's 8k race, Gardner, the reigning Washington 4A cross country champ who also competed at last week's NACAC meet in Jamaica, was part of a tight group of five that stayed together until the final straightaway.

Gardner crossed the line in a time of 24:53, as Oklahoma State freshman Craig Nowak took the win in 24:47.

"I started counting people towards the end of the race.  I started thinking about how many were in front of me and how many were behind."

"I raced smart.  I stayed behind, and started moving up the last half of the race, and kicked in with everyone else."

On the experience gained in racing in two international cross country races, he said that it will help him at the world championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland next month.

"You're not just a big dog.  You gotta run smart.  It doesn't matter who you are.  Just gotta stick with the pack"

In the open women's 8k race, Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver, who won the USATF national club cross country race in December, hung on to finish seventh in a time of 27:07.

Three time US Olympian Shalane Flanagan won yet another USA cross country title in a time of 25:49, breaking away from Kim Conley (26:06) on the last lap.

In a post-race interview, Flanagan, who was raised in Massachusetts, stated that she would decline her position on the world championship team in order to focus on April's Boston Marathon, bumping Suver  onto the team.

Tacoma native Brie Felnagle was 12th in 27:27.

In the open men's 12k race, Bellingham native and USATF club cross country champ Jake Riley finished nineteenth in 36:48, as his former Stanford teammate Chris Derrick won his first national senior title, running 35:39.

In Karlsruhe, Germany, Washington State alum Bernard Lagat won his second straight race of the 2013 campaign, running a short lived world leading 7:34.71 at the Weltklasse indoor meeting (Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia ran 7:32.87 at the New Balance Indoor GP meet in Boston, with Galen Rupp second in a US leading 7:33.67).

Lagat turned back Ethiopia's Yenew Alamirew by almost four seconds, as he crossed the line in 7:38.57.

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