We asked Lindsay Rossmiller to cover the 2016 USATF Cross Country champs for us, held in Bend, Oregon on February 6, 2016. Some fine racing and some exciting new discoveries for 2016!
One point about this race and champs. For the first time, women and men raced the same distance, 10k. In 2017, at the IAAF World Cross Country, both men and women will race over 10k. As Peter J. Thompson, one of the keenest observsers of our sport, and respected coach, noted: ” Once again, the USA does lead and show initiative.”
By: Lindsay Rossmiller
For the first time, both the men and women competed the 10K distance at the 2016 USATF cross country championships at the Rivers Edge Golf Course in Bend, OR. And both the men’s and women’s fields winners earned their first titles.
Craig Lutz won the men’s title in 31 minutes, 40 seconds in his professional debut. Mattie Suver won the women’s title in 36:35.
Lutz, a former University of Texas Longhorn who now trains with the Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite, built up about a 15 second lead over Aaron Dinezo, but when he started running down the transition chute instead of the finish chute, had his margin cut to seven seconds.
Lutz laughed after the race, “I came around the bend and was like, ‘Weird, they don’t have finishing line tape up.’ And that’s because I was looking down the wrong alley!”
He chalks it up to the challenge of the course itself.
“When I realized what I was doing, I was like, ‘oh there it is!’ I was tired and I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh thank god we’re finally finishing because this course hurts,'” said Lutz.
Lutz had originally intended to open his season in another month, but two weeks ago saw the start lists and decided to enter what he thought would be a solid, but open field.
“It’s a good way of seeing that I am strong and moving in the right direction for this year,” said Lutz, who hopes to compete for the 10,000 meters at the Olympic Trials later this year in July.
The other top finishers included Aaron Dinezo (31:47), Tabor Stevens (31:57), Donald Cowart (31:58), Max King (32:05), all of whom qualified for the North American and Pan-American championships in Venezuela.
In the earlier women’s race, Mattie Suver won her first individual title in 36 minutes, 35 seconds over Amy Van Alstine (36:45) and Cally Macumber (36:55).
The women were led by a pack of five for most of the race before Suver and Van Alstine separated themselves on the final lap. They got to the top of the course and Suver pulled away down the final mile.
Van Alstine won the 2014 cross country championship and was unable to race it in 2015. She was hoping to be able to reclaim her title this year and admitted after the race, “I was disappointed, but Mattie was just tougher out there today.”
Suver, runner up in 2015, trains with the American Distance Project in Colorado Springs, CO and was excited about her return to Oregon. In 2013, Suver was part of the winning team at club cross country championships that were also held in Bend. Suver also attended the University of Oregon.
All three hope to return to Oregon in July as part of the distance fields at the Olympic Trials to be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR.