Colorado Runners Dominate at USATF Cross Country Championships

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On Saturday, January 8, 36 athletes and three teams from Colorado competed in the USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego, California. Six races were conducted – Open Men (10 km), Open Women (10 km), U20 Men (8 km), U20 Women (6 km), Masters Men 8 km, and Masters Women (6 km). Over 400 athletes from 34 states competed in the championships. Coloradans won both the open races, claimed two masters individual titles, and two masters team titles.  

In the open men’s race Shadrack Kipchirchir, 32, (Colorado Springs; Nike) won in a thrilling finish while four other Coloradans claimed top-10 finishes. Kipchirchir used a late race kick over the final 100m to break the tape in 30:32.  He was quickly followed across the line by Dillon Maggard of Utah (+:02) and Sam Chelenga (+:02).  Then came the onslaught of Coloradans with Leonard Korir, 35, (Colorado Springs, U.S. Army, 30:37), Benard Keter, 29,(Colorado Springs, U.S. Army, 30:49), and Benjamin Eidenschink, 25, (Longmont, 31:07) finishing 4th, 5th , and 6th, respectively.  Theodorakis Medrano, 24, (Boulder, T.E.A.M. Boulder, 32:06) finished tenth with Ryan Robinson, 25, (Boulder, 32:14) next just 8 seconds back.  2021 USATF Colorado 5 km champion, Anthony Raftis, 24, of Longmont finished 14th running 32:47.

In the women’s open race Alicia Monson (Boulder, ON Athletics Club) used a strong surge just last 7 km to break open the women’s race as she went on to win her first USATF national title.  The 2020 Olympian hit the finish tape, arms raised, in 34:01.  She was 17 seconds ahead of runner-up Weini Kelati of Virginia.  Carrie Verdon, 27, (Boulder, T.E.A.M Boulder) finished ninth running 36:01.  It was Verdon’s second national cross country top-10 finish in the past four weeks.  At the Club championships last month in Florida she finished second at the 6 km distance.  Recent Air Force Academy grad, Maria Mettler, 22, (Colorado Springs, U.S. Air Force) finished 11th running 36:21. Next across the line was Caroline Sang, 26, (Colorado Springs, U.S. Army) in 12th place.

In the U20 women’s race sisters Madeline Castillo, 15, and Lia Castillo, 17, finished ninth and tenth, respectively.  

In the masters competitions Daniel King, 62,(Boulder, Athletics Boulder) and Colleen De Reuck, 57, (Boulder, Colorado Running Club) each won individual age division titles in leading their clubs to national team titles.  

King won the M60-64 division running 30:58 over the 8 km course.  Finishing second in the division was his Athletics Boulder teammate David Litoff, 60, of Louisville.  King’s brother-in-law Rick Bruess rounded out the team’s scoring as he finished ninth in the division.  Their team score of 10 points defeated the Cal Coast TC by six points.  It was the second national cross country team title for the Athletics Boulder squad in four weeks as last month they were victorious at the club championships in Florida. Rounding out the top three teams were the gentlemen from the Boulder Road Runners (29 points).  The scoring members of the Boulder Road Runners were Adam Feerst (Denver), Kyle Hubbart (Broomfield), and Jeffery Barros (Thornton).    

In addition to King and Litoff, Gary Ostwald, 75, (Denver, Boulder Raod Runners) earned a trip to the awards podium with his third place finish in the men’s 75-79 division

In the masters women’s race, four-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck won the W55-59 division by 17 seconds over Lisa Veneziano of Michigan.  Competing on the 6 km course, De Reuck stopped the clock at 25:33.  Her age-graded performance score of 84.25% was the best amongst the 60 masters women competitors.  De Reuck, who represented South African in three Olympics (1992, 1996, 2000) and the U.S. in one (2004), last won a USATF masters title in 2015.  Representing Team USA in 2002 she won the bronze medal at the World Cross Country Championships.  In San Diego, she led her Colorado Running Club squad to victory in the M50+ division.  The team scored 8 points to defeat the Cal Coast Track Club (of California) by 10 points.  Backing up De Reuck’s low stick were Marcey Cote, 50, and Lydia Dissly, 54, both of Boulder, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively in the women’s 50-54 division.

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