Parpart and Garcia earn Team USA spots for World XC

Results & Photos

On Saturday, twenty-two (22) athletes from the Pacific Northwest association competed at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon.  Six championship races were held on a course that needed a mammoth community effort to remove nearly 24 inches of snow during the week leading up to the meet.  The local Bend community came out in force in the days leading up to the meet to clear the snow from the course resulting in the 2 km circuit looking more like a green carpeted tunnel outlined by walls of snow.  But an early morning race-day down pour and warming temperatures left the course extremely treacherous in many areas resulting in numerous falls.
The day began with championship races for masters (ages 40 and over), followed by the under-20 men and women races and then the Open women and men took to a course that was well worn and anything but fast.
The top 6 finishers in the open and under-20 races earned automatic Team USA births to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 26 in Kampala, Uganda.  Additionally, athletes finishing in the top 25 were eligible for selection to represent Team USA at the North American Central America Caribbean Championships March 4 in Florida.
Parpart and Garcia off to Uganda
The story of the day for the local athletes was Gavin Parpart (Kenmore) and Kristen Garcia (Sedro Woolley) each placing in the top six in their respective races to earn Team USA spots to compete in Uganda next month.  Parpart, a freshman at the University of Washington, finished fourth in the U20 men’s 8 km race stopping the clock at 26:17.  The race was won by Paul Roberts (Colorado State-Pueblo) in 26:05.  Parpart’s Husky teammate Ryan Gregory (Gig Harbor) finished 15th in 27:30.  

Insights from Parpart:

"Racing in Bend entailed every obstacle I could've hoped for in a cross country course. The long uphills kept everyone straining the whole time and limited anyone's speed while the muddy downhills demanded focus and control. The competition was great and going with every split in the pack was key. I am thrilled to have done so well and look forward to my opportunity to compete for the national team for the first time."

In the women’s U20 race Garcia, a senior at Sedro Woolley High school who competed for Whatcom Tesseract, grabbed the last Team USA slot in dramatic fashion as she finished sixth running 23:43 over the 6 km course. She passed the 4 km mark 14 seconds up on eventual seventh place finisher Madison Fruchey of Indiana.  Fruchey was charging hard and woud run her last 2 km in 8:00 (compared to 8:12 for Garcia).  With about 500m to go in the race Garcia fell and was passed by Fruchey.  She got back up and fought hard to stay in contact with Fruchey.  With 150m  Fruchey experienced a fall of her own and Garcia was able to regain the lead lost during her fall. She drove to the line finishing 2 seconds clear of Fruchey for the last team spot. "“I felt really good about my race and I am proud of how I was able to stay tough during the last loop after my fall," offered Garcia.

The race was won by Michelle Magnani of Oklahoma State in 22:37.  Garcia’s Whatcom teammates Ruby Watson (Bellingham) and Ashlee Van Den Top (Lynden) placed 22nd and 32nd, respectively.

More insights from Garcia:
"The course was very muddy and slippery because of all the snow melting on the ground and it was one of the toughest cross country courses I have competed on. Racing in Bend was a really awesome experience because I got to see the senior men and women race after I raced and I like to watch those races and learn from the way professional athletes race. Also, I traveled with both my coaches and two of my teammates so it was a really fun trip overall! This was my first time making a national team and I can’t wait to represent USA at NACAC and Worlds!"

Gray and Lystad run to top finishes in open races
In the open men’s race Joseph Gray, 33, of Lakewood ran to a very solid ninth place finish running 31:02 over the 10 km course.  Gregory Leak, 28, (Tacoma) finished 40th running 32:54.  In the women’s open race Tansey Lystad, 23, (Kirkland) finished 11th running 37:11 and Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 31, (Seattle) placed 18th running 37:56.

Pending the final announcment by USATF (expected early next week) both Gray and Lystad have been named to Team USA to compete in the NACAC Championships March 4 in Boca Raton, Florida.  This is Gray's 21st Team USA squad.

Insights from Gray

"I had a blast, I wish it was a little more cold and muddy, but all in all I was happy that we finally had a tough course for the USA National cross country championship," offered Gray.  "I felt satisfied with my race. Initially it was easy to be a little disappointed as I was very close to making the world team but considering I'm coming off of a long mountain running season, it was hard to transition into shorter faster events so being top 10 in probably the deepest USA xc field ever was something to be proud of. Thankfully I made the NACAC team and can get another chance to represent my country."

Insights from Lystad

"I went in with the goal of making the World XC team, but I don't know if I actually believed it would be possible. I just tried to put myself in a good position early on, to at least give myself a chance to do something great, and I feel like that mentality paid off. I definitely surprised myself and know I ran to my full capabilities on the day! I loved that the course was muddy and tough, because it felt like a true xc race! While I missed qualifying for the World team, I am ecstatic to have the chance to compete for Team USA at NACACs. I have been dreaming of representing Team USA for a long time, and I couldn't be happier that my first time donning the USA jersey will be in cross country."

Hall & Sheeran Master the Masters

In the masters races Gail Hall (Bothell) and Joe Sheeran (Ellensburg) highlighted the action.  Hall, 57, won the women’s 55-59 title running 28:28 over the 6 km course.  She had the 8th best age graded performance (77.90%) of the 45 women that competed in the masters race. Finishing second to Hall was her Club Northwest teammate Kelly Kruell, 57, of Portland, Oregon.  In the men’s competition Sheeran, 59, finished second in the men’s 55-59 division running 30:32 for 8 km. He was just 5 seconds behind Peter Magill, 55, of California.  Magill is considered one of the greatest masters distance runners of all-time.  Sheeran’s performance was the 2nd best age graded performance (85.62%) of the 93 men that competed in the masters race.  He only trailed the 86.00% turned in by Jacques Sallberg, 42, of California  Carl Combs earned a silver medal as he finished second in the men’s 50-54 division and had the 14th best age-graded performance for men.

The 2018 (and 2019) championships will be held in Tallahassee, Florida.

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