Five Team USA Minnesota Runners Place in Top 10 at USA Cross Country Championships
Jason Lehmkuhle Wins Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham
Minneapolis/St. Paul - Feb. 15, 2010 - Five Team USA Minnesota distance runners placed in the top 10 of their respective open races at the USA Cross Country Championships in Spokane on Feb. 13. The Minnesota men included Patrick Smyth, who led the race through 9 km of the 12 km race and finished second in 34:52 (winning time was 34:34). Following Smyth to the finish line were Antonio Vega who was eighth in 35:41, and Matt Gabrielson who placed tenth with a time of 35:47.
In the women's 8 km championship race, Emily Brown was the first Team USA Minnesota finisher across the line in seventh place with a time of 26:55, followed by Katie McGregor in ninth in 27:08. Meghan Armstrong placed 13th with a time of 27:33.
"The race plan was definitely to get up there and push," said Smyth, who was making his first appearance at USA Cross. "I was feeling good and wanted to get the field strung out early. As for how the race played out, I was convinced I'd be ready to cover any move Ritz (Dathan Ritzenhein who finished first) or Bauhs (Scott Bauhs who was third) threw in once the three of us had broken away. But the two small consecutive uphills on the course got progressively more difficult for me in the latter laps (there were six laps of 2 km each). Ritz perceptively sensed this and made a very aggressive move on the penultimate lap's uphill portion. After that, I just tried to continue to compete and to break Bauhs."
The Spokane championships were conducted under sunny skies with unseasonably warm temperatures in the low 50s. "I thought the conditions were near perfect for cross country," said Smyth. "There was a bit of a headwind, but the footing and temperature were perfect. The course was both runner and spectator friendly in my opinion with some nice scenery to boot. It was great to see another strong finish from all the Team USA Minnesota athletes, particulary the men with a 2-8-10 finish."
The first six finishers in the men's 12 km and women's 8 km races qualified for the U.S. team that will compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on March 28.
"Making this world team was extremely high on my priorities for this fall/winter," said Smyth. "This is my first World Championships team of any kind and getting the chance to represent one's country is, in my opinion, the greatest privilege in sports. I'm extremely honored to have qualified, but know qualifying is only half the battle. Dennis and I now need to make all the preparations necessary to post a top finish in Poland. I think I can be a top-20 contender."
Mercedes Half Marathon - Feb. 14
Jason Lehmkuhle won the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 14 with a time of 1:03:38. Running at the front throughout the race, Lehmkuhle was using the half as part of his buildup for the Boston Marathon. The event was his first time back on the roads since the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, where he finished sixth in the USA Men's Marathon Championship and tenth overall.
Next up for Lehmkuhle will be the USA 15k Championships in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 13.
Tyson Invitational - Feb. 12
New Team USA Minnesota member Heather Dorniden finished third in the 800 meters at the Tyson Invitational with a time of 2:04.63, bettering the 2:05.49 that she ran at the Jack Johnson Invite at the University of Minnesota on Jan. 23. Dorniden will compete in the 800 meters at the USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque on Feb. 27-28.
About Team USA Minnesota
Team USA Minnesota is based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Formed in 2001, the purpose of the training center is to improve the competitiveness of post-collegiate American distance running and to develop Olympians. The athletes are coached by Dennis Barker, head cross country and track coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Team USA Minnesota's major sponsor is Life Time Fitness (www.lifetimefitness.com) and its silver sponsor is Twin Cities in Motion (www.mtcmarathon.org). It is also supported by the New York Road Runners and the USA Distance Project along with a grant from Running USA. For more information, visit the team's web site at www.teamusaminnesota.org.
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