There Was A Pro XC in America on Saturday: Allie Buchalski & Dillon Maggard Dominated The Sound Running Cross Champs
By Karl Winter
December 4, 2021
Though many big names and teams scratched before the race began, a handful of pros took advantage of an opportunity to run cross country at the inaugural Cross Champs at Mount San Antonio College, hosted by Sound Running and Trials of Miles.
In the end, Allie Buchalski (31:53.4) of the Brooks Beasts and Dillon Maggard (27:03.6) of HOKA dominated their respective races across the 5.5-mile course, which features six significant hills.
Both Buchalski in the women’s race and Maggard in the men’s race made a decisive move after the three-mile mark, overtaking the leader and moving away.
Heavy pre-race favorite Weini Kelati of Under Armour Dark Sky Distance was a late scratch, and the women’s race began with only 47 competitors, more than half of which were men originally slated to run in an open race.
Dani Shanahan of Hoka NAZ Elite and Calene Morris of Janes Running, both Southern California natives familiar with the course, took the race out in 5:30 for the first mile on the flat dirt “valley loop.”
Shananan put some distance on Morris after the first significant hill and would control the first 18 minutes of the race, but Buchalski played it safe and moved up slowly.
As the women advanced up the “switchbacks” hill for the second time, Shanahan began to run out of gas and Buchalski made the pass.
“The legs fell off a little bit in the last half, but I grinded it out,” Shanahan said.
From there, Buchalski increased her lead on the downhill and flat portions and cruised to victory.
“[The course] lived up to the hype — it was pretty terrible,” Buchalski said. “The downhills, I was just nervous I was going to fall.”
The Hansons-Brooks women ran as a group for the first 20 minutes of the race, then began to race. Amy Davis and Olivia Pratt would catch a fading Shanahan, but Buchalski, a sub-15 5000-meter runner, was long gone.
Hansons-Brooks took the team win with 24 points (top four scored) as the only other complete women’s team, Distance Project NYC, had 65 points.
Women’s 5.5 Mile Top 5
- Allie Buchalski, Brooks Beasts TC, 31:53.4
- Amy Davis, Hansons-Brooks ODP, 32:12.9
- Olivia Pratt, Hansons-Brooks ODP, 32:16.9
- Dani Shanahan, Hoka NAZ Elite, 32:36.1
- Calene Morris, Tracksmith / Janes Running, 32:56.8
Full results here
The race began with 34 competitors, and the men went through the flat first mile in about 4:40 in a big pack.
Evert Silva, a University of Portland athlete running for New Generation Track and Field, made a move up the switchbacks hill, putting 7 seconds on the field by the time they reached the first split mat (around 1.7 miles in).
The only man to break away and pursue Silva was Maggard, as the Tinman Elite men and Hansons-Brooks men ran in separate groups about 12 and 17 seconds behind Silva, respectively.
“I was trying to use as little energy as possible and just cover moves, but Evert took off and I was just holding back waiting to see if someone try to reel him back in and take the bait,” Maggard said. “Nobody did, and I ended up doing it.”
Silva maintained the lead through the two- and three-mile marks, which he hit in about 9:40 and about 14:52 (quick for Mt. SAC), according to Jeff Merill on the pay-per-view broadcast, but Maggard was hanging around and closing the gap.
As they crested switchbacks for the second time, Maggard pulled up alongside Silva. Silva hung on until they reached the “poopout hill” for the second time, but Maggard’s downhill running propelled him to extend the lead.
Jamaine Coleman started to break away from the Tinman pack and pursue Silva, and marathoner Zach Panning broke away from his Hansons teammates to unleash a charge over the final two miles.
“Kevin [Hanson] gave us a race plan — we were supposed to stay together through about 15 minutes and really work the second half of the race, and it really paid off,” Panning said.
Panning moved up seven spots from the third split mat to the fourth, into third place, and Coleman passed Silva for second, but Maggard led by 11 seconds as they neared the 5-mile mark and wouldn’t be caught.
Joey Berriatua and Drew Hunter of Tinman edged Silva for the final spots in the top five.
Tinman beat Hansons-Brooks 13-32 in the team competition.
Men’s 5.5 Mile Top 10
- Dillon Maggard, Hoka One One, 27:03.6
- Jamaine Coleman, Tinman Elite, 27:16.4
- Zach Panning, Hansons-Brooks ODP, 27:18.0
- Joey Berriatua, Tinman Elite, 27:23.7
- Drew Hunter, Tinman Elite, 27:27.9
- Evert Silva, New Generation T&F, 27:28.8
- Brian Barraza, Tinman Elite, 27:34.4
- Reed Fischer, Tinman Elite, 27:41.5
- Ryan Robinson, unattached, 27:45.4
- Kyle Medina, Simple Athletics, 27:47.9
Full results here.
Quick Take: The big names backed out
The original promotion of the Cross Champs event included Bowerman Track Club, On Athletics Club, Under Armour Dark Sky and Brooks Beasts on the flyers, but none of those clubs toed the line today. Kelati and Olympian Mason Ferlic were on the final start lists, but they did not make an appearance either.
“The whole field dropped out, so it was weird being on the start line,” Hunter said.
Whether they were intimidated by the hilly course (Morgan McDonald of OAC said he heard it was the “worst course” on a recent Coffee Club podcast) or elected to run other major events this weekend, the fields were small and that didn’t lend itself to a cross-country style atmosphere.
Quick Take: Hunter’s back is still bothering him
After a victory at the USATF 5k Road Championships on Nov. 7, Drew Hunter struggled to a 7th-place finish at the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving.
He attributed both that finish and his result today to nagging back spasms when he runs on downhills.
“I had the same issue today, so [I’m] definitely not recovered,” Hunter said.
Hunter said the Tinman men were running for the team win, so he was happy with that.
He said he does not think the back spasms are a major issue and he plans to run a full indoor track season.
Quick Take: Maggard a fan of track 10,000-meter championships coming to Mt. SAC
While Mt. SAC may be a brutal place for the pros to run cross country, the new Hilmer Lodge Stadium is beautiful, and USATF announced yesterday that the stadium would host the 2022 US championships 10,000-meter race, three weeks before the full US track and field championships are held at Hayward Field.
Maggard, who also closed very quickly to finish second at the Sugar Run 5k in Memphis on Nov. 20, is excited for the opportunity to recover more between the 10000 and 5000 at USAs.
“It gives me the opportunity to focus on the 5 at Hayward, so that’s cool,” Maggard said.
On the other hand, for a marathoner like Tinman’s Reed Fischer, the 10000 is much closer to the spring marathon season and the recovery time is shorter.
“The turnaround’s probably going to be pretty tight for the marathoners,” Fischer said.
Sound Running Cross Champs
- Course is actually about 5.5 miles according to Jesse Williams
- Claudia Lane’s HS course CR is 15:49
- Tamagno’s boys HS record is 14:23.