USATF Cross Country Championships Preview

by Hector Vargas


Tallahassee will host the USATF Cross Country Championships on Saturday, February 3. Unfortunately there is no televised coverage, but coverage is available (for a fee) at usatf.tv. The fee may be worth it, as even in an “off” year with no World Cross Country Champs to qualify for this year, the field is great!

It includes defending champion, and 59:41 half-marathoner, Leonard Korir. Leonard is a graduate of nearby Iona College who competed often against Siena College in the MAAC. He is currently stationed in Colorado Springs, where he serves as a motor transport operator in the US Army World Class Athlete program. Korir was diplomatic when asked who he considered his main competition Saturday, and answered ”everyone”.

Also on the men’s side is 2017 Chicago Marathon champion Galen Rupp, who is competing as part of his training for Aprils Boston Marathon. Galen’s coach Alberto Salazar indicted that Galen’s Boston prep is going well, and includes lots of downhill running. Salazar said ideally they would like a two mile downhill stretch to train on, which is difficult to find. Galen plans on a half-marathon prep race, perhaps three to four weeks prior to Boston. Salazar also said that 2:20:57 marathoner Jordan Hasay was a late scratch for Saturday’s event, but thought it would not interfere with her planned Boston Marathon in April. HMRRC old timers may recall a 10k race sponsored by the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing back in 1985. Salazar was upset and finished second in that race, and remembered it as a very hilly course.

Evan Jager, 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the steeplechase as well as bronze medalist on the 2017 World Championships in London, will provide stiff competition for Korir and Rupp. He echoed Korir and said everyone was a threat to win. He said his future competitive plans included a possible indoor meet in Boston and the Diamond League circuit in Europe this summer, where he hopes to break 8 minutes for the steeplechase. He came agonizingly close, with an 8:00.45 in 2015.

The women’s field is excellent too. It is led by Courtney Frerichs and Emily Infeld. Frerichs helped complete a 1 – 2 finish by American women in the World Championships steeplechase last year in London with a silver medal behind Emma Coburn. Frerichs thought her Bowerman teammate Infeld would be her toughest opponent. She is considering an indoor 5000 meters race later this season. Click here for a link of Coburns sister reacting to the World Championships race: https://twitter.com/SInow/status/896121879899111424

It’s worth a look!

Infeld was a bronze medalist in the 2015 Bejing World Championships, and with a personal 10000 meter record of 31:20 should be tough to beat. Her PR was set in finishing sixth in last years World Championships in London.

Molly Seidel has a 15:15 5000 meter best indoors, and a 33:03 road personal best, and should also be a threat to win.

All in all, a great field to watch if you have the chance.

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