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Posted: January 24, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Several Top Americans Enter Cross Country Championships

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Several top Americans, including defending men's champion Dathan Ritzenhein, have entered the U.S. Cross Country Cross Country Championships in Agriculture Farm Park in Derwood, Md. The meet is scheduled for Saturday, February 7.

Ritzenhein, 26, romped to victory at last year's championships, covering the 12 km course in San Diego, Calif., in 35 minutes and 3 seconds.

"I have a knack for cross country after these years," Ritzenhein told Race Results Weekly in a recent telephone interview. "I've kind of figured out what my race effort is there. I think that I just have a good body for that; I'm light and strong."

Ritzenhein will be challenged by last year's runner-up, Jorge Torres, and reigning national steeplechase champion, Anthony Famiglietti (all three men competed in the Beijing Olympics). Other contenders include 2008 NCAA 5000m champion Bobby Curtis, and NCAA cross country All-Americans Brent Vaughan and Sean Quigley.

The reigning women's champion, Shalane Flanagan, will not defend her title (she'll be running at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games in the 5000m the same day). That leaves the door open for last year's third and fourth place finishers, Emily Brown and Katie McGregor of Team USA Minnesota, to battle for the win. They should get a stiff challenge from Olympian Amy Yoder-Begley, third at last summer's Olympic Trials at 10,000m.

The meet will serve as the selection race for the U.S. junior and senior teams for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday, March 29. The first six athletes over the finish line in both the junior and senior men's and women's races will earn automatic berths on the team.

Highlights of the meet will be televised on Sunday, Feb. 15, during ESPN's coverage of the Tyson Invitational indoor meet.

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