Sunday, March 24, 2013

Team USA Senior Men upset Kenya for World Cross Country Silver

Ben True (photo:Mike Scott/Milesplit)
The snow covered course had been trampled all day by the Juniors and Senior Womens races, but the Senior Men's event would be the last chance for an American medal on the uneven grounds of Bydgoszcz, Poland, where the 40th IAAF World Cross Country Championships would take place.

The US Men would field a strong team, but one that would see Dathan Ritzenhein opt out due to his running of the NYC Half and both Matt Tegenkamp and Luke Puskedra having to bow out to injury. What could also be considered is Galen Rupp not participating due to his barnstorming indoor season.

The goal at this point had to be to get on the medal stand, but some breakout performances by multiple team members led to even more.

Ben True, hot off his USATF 15k Championship, would run the race of his life, and would finish a very strong sixth overall. He would also be the first non-African to cross the line. Chris Derrick would back up his strong win at the USA Cross Country Championships with a tenth place finish; one that would certainly fulfill his pre-race goal.

Beyond these two, things got interesting. Elliott Heath would finish 30th overall and hung there most of the race, but somehow, Team USA kept moving up the rungs each lap. They were fifth with three laps to go, then fourth with two laps to go, then third with one lap to go.

How did this happen?

Derrick, Mack, Vail, Strang, True, Heath
(photo:IAAF)
"Steady Eddies" Ryan Vail and Bobby Mack were slowing working their way through the pack and would finish 17th and 19th, respectively, to push Team USA past Kenya to second on the medal stand. A Silver medal; over Kenya!

Even James Strang, who was called in very recently, to replace the injured Tegenkamp, would run a very strong 37th, and finish ahead of Canada's Cam Levins, to complete an all-around American fireworks show.

Ethiopia would take the win with 38 points, to USA's 52 and Kenya's 54.

Full results are here

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