San Diego, CA – It took until the final 2k lap for Anthony Rotich (Nike / U.S. Army WCAP) and Natosha Rogers (Denver, Colorado) to pull away from their chief competition, but it was enough for each to earn top prize Saturday in San Diego, CA at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships.
Full results can be found here.
The USATF Cross Country Championships are the first stop on the 2020 USATF Running Circuit. Fans can relive the excitement of Saturday’s races on USATF.TV with a USATF.TV +PLUS subscription.
In the men’s race, the U.S. Army/Army WCAP team jumped to the front and drove a very fast first mile, which quickly strung out the field and put five of their runners in the lead.
Rotich and Emmanuel Bor (Nike / U.S. Army WCAP), who placed second at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships, established themselves up front, while teammates Lawi Lalang (Nike / U.S. Army WCAP) and Michael Jordan (Nike / U.S. Army WCAP) sat third and fourth. By the end of the first lap, a 2k loop runners repeated until the very end of the race, Rotich and Bor had a six second lead.
Their lead would grow to 15 seconds passing through the second lap and continue on to 24 seconds by the end of the third lap, while Lalang and a handful of other runners would change positions between third through seventh seemingly each lap.
Bor and Rotich would continue stride for stride through the fourth lap and into the final lap. It wasn’t until a mile to go that Rotich would put in a surge, one that ultimately broke Bor and the former UTEP star was on his way to his first USATF title.
Rotich looked over his shoulder with a half mile to go and seeing he had a dominating lead, allowed himself to smile and soak in the moment. Rotich cruised calmly across the finish, winning by 22 seconds in 30:35.8m while Bor earned a second consecutive runner-up finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships in 30:57.5.
While Rotich and Bor grew their lead over the rest of the field throughout the race, until they were clearly going to finish 1-2, Lalang never gave up, pressing along for much of the race by himself. The former NCAA champion nearly caught his teammate Bor in the final stages of the race, taking home third place in 31:00.0.
The race was on for fourth much of the back half of the race. While the U.S. Army trio was clear of the field, a group of 3-5 athletes challenged for fourth and fifth for much of the race. In the end, Dillon Maggard (HOKA ONE ONE)was able to hold off Nicholas Hauger (HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite), as the two earned top five finishes in 31:07.4 and 31:07.6.
Matt Welch (Flagstaff, Arizona) was able to solidify sixth place overall in 31:21.1, while the U.S. Army’s Jordan fell back from the fast early pace, but maintained form in the back half of the race to earn seventh in 31:27.6.
David Goodman (Boulder Track Club) finished six seconds back of Jordan in eighth with a time of 31:33.5, while Tai Dinger claimed ninth in 31:49.7. Former BYU All-American Connor McMillan (American Fork UT) earned a tenth place finish in 31:53.5, as all top ten finishers earned points towards the USATF Running Circuit standings.
As the women’s race got underway, Rogers, Paige Stoner (Reebok Boston Track Club) and Danielle Shanahan (HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite) positioned themselves up front and almost immediately pulled away from the rest of the field.
The trio would remain together into the third lap, but Stoner and Rogers put in a few surges that would break Shanahan, who dropped into third place, running by herself for two miles. By the time Rogers and Stoner finished the third lap, they had a 21 second lead on Shanahan.
As Rogers and Stoner passed the one lap to go mark stride for stride, when Rogers put in a surge. Stoner attempted to cover but after a quarter mile it was obvious that if Rogers kept up the pace, she’d be able to pull away from Stoner. And that’s exactly what happened.
Rogers continued to drive the pace, distancing herself from Stoner with every stride until there was a half mile to go and it was clear Rogers would claim her second national title. After dealing with injuries and nearly leaving the sport, the former Texas AM standout crossed the finish line in victorious fashion, winning by 22 seconds in 35:44.3.
Stoner, who had a fantastic 2019 campaign and looks to build on that in this Olympic year, charged home for a strong second place finish in 36:06.9.
Behind the lead duo, Carrie Verdon (Boulder Track Club) ran a smart, tactical race, seemingly in control of her position the entire time. Verdon would finish third on the day in 36:24.0. Sarah Pease (Oiselle) and Grace Graham-Zamudio (Cal Coast Track Club) also broke the 37-minute barrier, finishing fourth and fifth in 36:38.8 and 36:57.1.
Rounding out the top ten in the women’s race, Shanahan gamely hung on over the final two laps to earn sixth overall in 37:00.7, well ahead of seventh place Tansey Lystad (Louisville, Colorado), who took home seventh place in 37:11.5.
Calene Morris (The Janes Elite Racing) earned an eighth place finish in 37:23.6, while Cleo Whiting (Boulder Track Club) and Catarina Rocha (Ocean State Athletic Club) placed ninth and tenth in 37:27.5 and 37:31.9.
The USATF Running Circuit resumes on February 29, as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon in Atlanta will award the top ten finishers double points, while Olympic berths are on the line.
About the USATF Running Circuit
The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $16,200 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Cross Country Championships
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Cross Country Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7 ,6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush