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Posted: February 6, 2009  :

Athletics: Olympians lead fields at USA Cross Country Championships

DERWOOD, Md. - The nation's top cross country runners head to The Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland, on Saturday for the USA Cross Country Championships presented by Saucony.

Highlights of the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships will be televised on February 15 during ESPN coverage of the Tyson Invitational. The championships will consist of six cross country championship races for men's and women's categories with national titles on the line for junior, masters and open divisions. The nation's premier cross country event, the Championships will feature $47,000 in prize money.

In addition to the national titles up for grabs in Derwood, open and junior men and women will qualify to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 28 in Amman, Jordan.

Olympic men's marathon silver medalist and two-time USA Cross Country Champion Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.) returns to the cross country championships for the first time since 2003. A two-time champion at 12 km (2001-02), Keflezighi looks to have returned to top form after winning the USA Half Marathon Championships last month.

The men's field for the 12 km race features several contenders that could stand between Meb and a third title. Leading the charge are Beijing Olympians Jorge Torres (Boulder, Colo.) and Anthony Famiglietti (Knoxville, Tenn.). Torres brings the most recent cross country success to the field as the top U.S. finisher at last year's IAAF World Cross Country Championships, but Famiglietti is not untested at longer distances. An Olympic finalist in the 3,000m steeplechase, "Fam" has the second fastest 10,000 time among the field with 27:37.54.

Also vying for men's team positions will be 2008 U.S. Cross Country team member Ed Moran (Williamsburg, ZVa.), 2008 NCAA 5,000 meter champion Bobby Curtis (Ardmore, Pa.), and NCAA Cross Country All-Americans Tim Nelson (Portland, Ore.) from the University of Wisconsin and Sean Quigley (Philadelphia, Pa.) from LaSalle University.

The women's 8 km race likely will see Team USA Minnesota teammates Katie McGregor (Saint Louis Park, Minn.) and Emily Brown (Minneapolis, Minn.) in contention for the women's title. A six-time U.S. Cross Country Team member, McGregor will be in search of her first USA Cross Country title but will be challenged by training partner Brown, who was the top U.S. finisher at last year's World Cross Country Championships.

Four-time member of the Team USA Cross Country squad Kathy Newberry (Williamsburg, Va.),leads the list of local contenders along with Julie Culley (Arlington, Va.) and Samia Akbar (Herndon, Va.).

Junior men

The junior men's 8 km race may potentially be one of the most exciting races in recent memory, as Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez, the 2008 USA junior cross country champion and owner of the world junior best indoors at one mile (3:56.50, set on January 24th), faces a loaded field which includes Stanford freshman Chris Derrick, who finished seventh in the NCAA cross country championships, and ran 13:44.01 for 5000 meters in Seattle last week; Oregon freshman Luke Puskedra, who was fifth in the NCAA cross country meet; and University of Oklahoma freshman Kevin Williams, who was a member with Fernandez of last year's Team USA junior squad at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Others to watch in the junior men's field include Thomas Porter of Mountain View HS in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was 3rd at the 2008 Foot Locker cross country championships; the Oklahoma State freshman duo of Colby Lowe and Ryan Prentice; Stanford's Kevin Havel; and University of Wisconsin freshman Elliot Krause.

Junior women

In the junior women's 6 km race, Shippensburg State freshman Neely Spence, the daughter of 1991 World Championships marathon bronze medalist Steve Spence and the 2008 NCAA Divdision II cross country runner-up , enters the meet as a slight favorite to win the national crown.

Others to watch include Arizona State freshman Kauren Tarver, a member of Team USA at the 2006 World Cross Country Championships; Syracuse freshman Natalie Busby; University of Washington freshman Kayla Evans; and a trio of outstanding high school runners including Ashley Brasovan of Wellington HS in Florida, who was second in last fall's Foot Locker championships; Allie McLaughlin of Air Academy HS in Colorado Springs, who was fifth at Foot Locker; and, Alyssa Nielson of Colleyville Heritage HS in Texas, who was tenth at the Nike Cross Nationals.

Masters Championships

National championships will also be decided for masters men and women at 8 km with titles on the line in five-year age groups beginning at age 40 and up.

The men's field will feature masters aces Simon Gutierrez (Alamos, Colo.), Peter Magill (South Pasadena, Calif.) and John Tuttle (Villa, Ga.), while the women will be led by Carmen Ayala Troncoso (Austin, Texas) and Kathryn Martin (Northport, N.Y.).

For more information on the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships visit USATF.org.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org


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