Team USA men grab
best finish since 1984 at World Cross Country Championships
BYDGOSZCZ, Poland–In one of the most surprising
performances in recent memory, Team USA, led by the sixth place finish of Ben
True (Hanover, N.H.) earned a hard fought team silver medal in the senior
men’s 12-kilometer race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships at
Myslecinek Park. The senior women’s team placed fourth with the junior men
fifth and the junior women sixth.
It was the first team medal in the 12-kilometer
race earned by Team USA since 2001 in Ostend, Belgium, and the first silver
medal won since 1984 in East Rutherford, N.J., when Pat Porter led the squad to
a second place finish behind Ethiopia.
True’s sixth place finish was the
highest at the world championships since Todd Williams was ninth in 1995 in
Durham, England. The last time Team USA had two men finish in the top
ten was in 1986 in Neuchatel, Switzerland, when Pat Porter finished sixth,
and John Easker was tenth.
True, along with the rest of the
squad, took a conservative approach on the first lap of the six-lap race, as
he started out in 25th place. He along with Chris Derrick (Portland,
Ore.) worked their way through the pack, and found themselves in the top ten
at the 10-km mark, while eventual winner Japhet Kipyegon Korir of Kenya,
defending world champion Imane Merga of Ethiopia and Teklemariam Medhin of
Eritrea broke away from the field.
True held his place in the last lap,
crossing the line in 33:11, while Derrick moved up to ninth, but was passed
in the last ten meters to finish tenth in 33:23.
Behind Derrick came Ryan Vail
(Portland, Ore.) who finished 17th in 33:42, and Bobby Mack (Raleigh, N.C.)
in 19th at 33:49 to round out Team USA’s scorers. Elliott Heath
(Portland, Ore.) was 30th in 34:11 and James Strang (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
finished in 37th place in 34:20.
Ethiopia won the team gold medal with
38 points, with Team USA scoring 52 points, two points lower than perennial
power Kenya’s 54.
In the senior women’s eight-kilometer
race, the squad finished fourth, missing out on its third consecutive team
Neely Spence Gracey (Lake Orion,
Mich.) found herself at the tail end of the lead group that included eventual
winner Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia, along with former champion Emily Chebet of
Kenya and Belaynesh Oljira of Ethiopia, who finished second and third,
Gracey worked her way up all the way
to 11th with one lap to go, but lost ground, and finished 13th in a time of
Behind Gracey were Emily Infeld
(Portland, Ore.) and Mattie Suver (Boulder, Colo.) who finished 21st and
26th, respectively, with times of 25:27 and 25:41. 2012 US Olympian Kim
Conley (West Sacramento, Calif.) was 30th to round out the USA scorers with a
time of 25:45.
Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.),
the 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist, competing in her tenth career
world cross country championships, finished 34th in 25:52, and Delilah
DiCrescenzo (New York, N.Y.) was 47th in 26:05.
In the junior men’s eight-kilometer
race, Team USA was fourth with a score of 106 points, led by Matt McClintock
(West Lafayette, Ind.), who finished 20th in 22:52.
USA junior champion Craig Nowak
(Stillwater, Okla.) was 24th in 23:03, followed by Malachy Schrobilgen
(Madison, Wis.) in 26th at 23:12, and Darren Fahy (Washington, D.C.) rounded
out the four scorers in 36th at 23:25.
Thomas Graham (Stanford, Calif.) was
40th in 23:27, and Andrew Gardner (Spokane, Wash.) placed 42nd in 23:30.
Ethiopia, led by winner Hagos Gebrihwet’s 21:04, won the junior men’s team
title with 23 points, followed by Kenya at 26 points, and Morocco with 65
The junior men’s team earned its
highest placing since a fifth place finish in Amman, Jordan in 2009.
The day led off with the junior
women’s 6 kilometer race, as Carrie Verdon (Boulder, Colo.) finished 20th in
19:33 to pace Team USA to a sixth place finish, scoring 105 points.
Reigning USA champion Emily Stites
(Williamsburg, Va.) was 23rd in 19:37, followed by Katie Knight (Spokane,
Wash.) in 28th at 19:52, and Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich.) 34th in 20:03
to round out the four USA scorers. Sydney Scott (Morgantown, W.V.) finished
38th in 20:19, followed by Samantha Nadel (Washington, D.C.) in 44th at
Kenya took the junior women’s team
title with 14 points, led by individual winner Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon’s
time of 17:51. Ethiopia was second with 23 points, followed by Great
Britain with 81 points.
For more on the IAAF World Cross
Country Championships, please visit www.usatf.org. Athlete Quotes
“The race plan was to go with the flow
and feel the course. Don’t try to fight the conditions because they were so
crazy. I’ve never been in a race like this, so it was important to keep an
open mind, and not think too hard about it. I worked my way up through the
race and caught some people, and I’m proud of that.”
Junior Men Matt McClintock
“A bunch of us got knocked down in the
first 50 meters. One of the guys caught me and told me to get up and maintain
my cool. I’m most proud of the fact that I maintained my composure after
getting knocked down, and that I was able to keep fighting for my friends and
for Team USA.”
Senior Women Kim Conley
“That was one of the hardest things
I’ve ever done. I tried to get out hard, and I felt that I was getting gapped
every lap. I’m proud of the fact that the other US girls ran well, and offer
words of encouragement.
“We talked about trying to get
four in the top 20. I was hovering around 25th place the last half of the
race. I really wanted to try and fight my way up, because I knew I was in
either the third or fourth position on the team
“All the girls performed outstanding.
Kim and Neely did an outstanding job, and Emily as well. The future of the
sport in the US is very bright.
“The course really wasn’t that
bad. It was slippery in places. I shed my arm warmers going into the second
lap. I was expecting worse conditions that what was out there.”
Neely Spence Gracey
“That was really great to go in with
teammates in the race. I had a set goal for each lap. My (club) coaches
were here and they were able to learn from the previous races what the best
strategy was for us.
“After this race, anything is
possible. Conditions won’t phase me in the near future. There are some
things you can train for, and others that you can’t. Today was one of those
days that you had to go into it with an open mind.”
“It was fun out there, especially on a
hard course. It was hard to get a rhythm. We had a great group of women
out there. I wanted to get out there and compete and race the other women,
and ultimately run as good a race as possible.
“It was really hard. I felt good for
the first two laps, and started to push a little bit. It might have been the
cold, but I really couldn’t see that well over the last few laps. I knew Ben
was up there, and that I needed to get in the top ten if we were to have a
shot at a medal.
“I don’t think I quite realize what an
accomplishment this is. We had six guys in the top 35, and in the past few
years, it seems that’s where our first guy is.”
“It was a hard course, with a lot of
twists and turns, and a steep uphill, and it was great that I was able
to hang in there.”
I thought we had a real good shot of
getting four guys in the top 25. It’s nice to see that we are all
running well. Chris and I were sitting around the low 20s and feeding
off each other, and I kept telling myself to hang in there for one more lap,
as guys from other teams started to drop back and we started picking them
“We all had the same game plan and
that is to go out conservative, and conservative meant going out about 50th place
or so. Every lap we worked on picking people off.”
“My first world team was here three
years ago. I was 67th here. I thought maybe that top 40 would be good, or
maybe top 30, but we crushed it. It was exciting to hear the team numbers being
called out during the race. On the last lap, I heard people yelling at
me that if you get two more people, that we would have a bronze medal. I
wasn’t going to get passed, and I got those last two guys. It’s an
“It’s an absolutely incredible
feeling. We knew that this course was made for us. Our game plan was to go
out conservative, and work our way up each lap. All of us know how to run
cross very well, and we knew we had to go and take care of business.”
From USA Track & Field Media
Correspondent Paul Merca