CAPE CANAVERAL - Clara Grandt (Morgantown, W.V.), Ryan Hill (Hickory, N.C.) and Stephen Pifer (Eugene, Ore.) won their respective races to lead Team USA to three team titles Saturday at the 2009 North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships. Nearly 100 athletes representing nine national federations competed in the fifth annual event at the Chain of Lakes Park in Titusville, Fla.
The day of racing began with the junior women's 4 km as Emily Pritt (North Canton, Ohio), ran 13:18 to finish third, leading Team USA to a second-place finish behind Team Canada. Genevieve Lalonde led Canada to the team win, in 13:00, to finish 17 seconds ahead of Natoya Goule of Jamaica.
Molly Grabill (Poway, Calif.), Colin Ellis (Dallas, Texas), and Rolonda Jumbo (Santa Fe, N.M.), finished in ninth, tenth and 11th running 13:35, 13:40 and 13:47 respectively to complete the team score for Team USA. Canada scored 16 points for a 14 point win over the U.S., Jamaica finished third with 74 points.
In the junior men's 6 km Team USA was grouped together at the front of the pack after the first 2 km loop and gradually separated themselves from all but Canada's Mohammed Ahmed. Over the middle and final laps, Hill and Ahmed began to duel for the lead with Ryan Prentice (Normandy Park, Wash.), Griffith Graves (Abingdon, Va.), and Eric Fernandez (Ballwin, Mo.), close behind.
With about 800 meters remaining, Ahmed took the lead once again before Hill made a move that couldn't be answered, pulling away for a six second win in 17:55. Prentice caught Ahmed in the final stretch to claim the runner-up position in 18:01, with Ahmed finishing less than a second back for third. Graves and Fernandez rounded out the team scoring in fourth and fifth, running 18:03 and 18:08 respectively. Team USA scored 12 points over Canada's 24 points. Jamaica finished third with 54 points.
The senior women's race saw Grandt jump to an early lead during the first lap with her teammates leading the chase pack. Over the remaining two laps, Team USA was in position for a perfect score but Canada's Catherine Cormier and Chantell Widney ran a strong final lap to break-up the U.S. pack, finishing second and fifth.
Grandt was timed in 20:11 for the 6 km, Cormier finished ten seconds back, while Team USA's Kasie Enman (Huntington, Vt.), Erin Nehus (Indianapolis, Ind.), and Hanna Grinaker (Madison, Wis.) finished in third, fourth and sixth, running 20:23, 20:38 and 20:46 respectively to round out the team scoring. The Team USA women scored 14 points to win by eight points over Canada, while Jamaica finished third with 54 points.
The final race of the day saw the U.S. men take immediate control of the lead pack in senior men's 8 km, with only Canada's Dylan Wykes running with Pifer, Antonio Vega (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Giliat Ghebray (Flagstaff, Ariz.). Team USA's Lucas Meyer (Eugene, Ore.) following the lead pack by about 20 meters.
Going into the third lap, Wykes began to push to the front but Pifer tucked in and waited to make his move, opening small gap at the beginning of the final lap that would grow to a 15 second win over Wykes. Ghebray, Vega and Meyer took the next three spots, running 23:35, 23:39 and 23:50 respectively to give Team USA 13 points for a ten-point win over Canada. Jamaica was third once again with 50 points.
For more information on the NACAC Cross Country Championships visit USATF.org.
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For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.