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Flanagan repeats, Vaughn surprises

Flanagan repeats, Vaughn surprises men’s field at USA Cross Country Championships

Brent Vaughn

Brent Vaughn

SAN DIEGO – Olympic Bronze medalist and American record holder Shalane Flanagan (Portland, Ore.) dominated the women’s field to win her fifth USA Cross Country title, while Brent Vaughn (Blackhawk, Colo.) surprised the men’s field to win his first USA title Saturday at the 2011 USA Cross Country Championships.

In addition to the national titles up for grabs in San Diego, open and junior men and women qualified to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 20 in Punta Umbria, Spain.

In the women’s 8 km, Flanagan took an early lead and never looked back. Leading by more than 10 seconds after the first 2 km loop, Flanagan steadily increased her lead over Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.), who had a small lead over a chase pack that included Lisa Koll (Portland, Ore.), Olympic marathoners Magdalena Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) and Blake Russell (Pacific Grove, Calif.), with Zap Fitness standout Alissa McKaig (Blowing Rock, N.C.) hanging on.

After 6 km, Flanagan led by 40 seconds while Koll pulled even with Huddle. As Flanagan cruised to a 41-second win, Huddle pulled away from Koll to claim the runner-up spot in 26:31 as Koll took third in 26:41. Rounding out the Team USA qualifiers, Boulet took fourth in 27:02, with Russell fifth in 27:06 and McKaig taking sixth in 27:07.

In the men’s 12 km, a large pack ran together through 6 km before Vaughn made his move, opening a nine-second lead over a chase pack that included Ed Moran (Williamsburg, Va.), Matt Tegenkamp (Portland, Ore.), Ben True (Hanover, N.H.), Brian Olinger (Westerville, Ohio), Max King (Bend, Ore.) and Andrew Bumbalough (Portland, Ore.).

Over the final two laps, Bumbalough, Tegenkamp, Moran, True, King and Olinger gave chase, closing the gap on Vaughn. Going into the final lap, Vaughn looked to have the win secured but waited until the final meters to celebrate his six second win, finishing in 35:46. Bumbalough, who made the 2006 world cross country championship team as a junior member, claimed the runner-up position in 35:52, while Moran took third in 35:54. Tegenkamp finished in fourth, and True and Olinger rounded out the Team USA qualifiers in 36:03 and 36:05 respectively.

Cuffe powers to convincing win in junior women’s race

Much as she did two months ago at the Foot Locker National Championships across town, high school senior Aisling Cuffe (Cornwall On Hudson, N.Y.) steamrolled past her opposition to decisively win the junior women’s 6 km championship.

Cuffe opened up a substantial gap on the field early, and was never challenged for the victory, crossing the finish line in 21:13, a 26-second gap over runner up Molly Grabill of nearby Poway, California.

In the battle for second, Grabill, a senior in high school, tussled with University of Washington freshman Katie Flood (Des Moines, Iowa), before Grabill inched forward and opened a four second gap at the finish over Flood, who crossed the line in 21:43.

Sierra Vega (Santa Ana, Calif.) finished fourth in 22:00, while Julie Nacouzi (Santa Rosa, Calif.) of the Buffalo Chips Running Club took fifth in 22:17. Hannah Valenzuela (Apple Valley, Calif.) took the final spot to Punta Umbria with a sixth-place finish in 22:17, four seconds up on University of Washington freshman Chelsea Orr (Sammamish, Wash.).

Olson wins junior men’s title

Stanford University freshman Erik Olson (Novato, Calif.) bided his time over a closely bunched group of runners, before powering away for the victory in the junior men’s 8 km race.

In a race that had no clear cut favorite entering Saturday’s competition, Olson waited until the final lap to put on a surge that broke the field, crossing the line in 24:48, a nine-second win over runner up Maxwell Straneva (Binghampton, N.Y.).

Heralded high schooler Craig Lutz (Highland Village, Texas) took third in 25:06, with Justin Vilhauer (Visalia, Calif.) fourth in 25:09.

Ryan Poland of (Westminster, Colo.) was fifth in 25:16, and in an identical scenario to last year’s race in Spokane, high school senior Ammar Moussa (Arcadia, Calif.) grabbed the sixth and final spot to the world championships, finishing in 25:20.

Masters Championships

National championships were also decided for masters men and women at 8 km with titles on the line in five-year age groups beginning at age 40 and up.

Masters ace Pete Magill (South Pasadena, Calif.) claimed the overall masters men’s title in 26:17 and Colleen De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.) took the women’s in 28:47. Magill and Kathryn Martin (Northport, N.Y.) claimed the masters age-graded titles.