Monday, February 15, 2010

Smyth Makes USA's World Cross Team

With an aggressive race on Saturday, Team USA Minnesota's Patrick Smyth earned a spot on the United States team for this winter's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The Notre Dame University alum finished runner-up to Dathan Ritzenhein in the senior men's race at Saturday's USA Cross Country Championships in Spokane, Washington. Smyth clocked 34:52 in the six-lap, 12K race, 18 seconds behind Ritzenhein.

The top six finishers in the race earned the right to represent the USA at World Cross on March 28. Smyth made his first-ever World Cross team with the efforet -- indeed, he was running in his first USA Cross Country Championship.

Apart from Smyth (pictured, leading Ritzenehin, left, and Bauhs), it was a day of near-misses for Team USA athletes in Spokane. In the senior men's race, USA Half Marathon champion Antonio Vega finished 8th overall in 35:41. Teammate Matt Gabrielson, a member of three World Cross squads in his career, was 10th in 35:57.

Find full senior men's results HERE.

Brown Just Misses ... In the senior women's 8K race, defending USA Cross Country Champion Emily Brown missed making her third World Cross team by a single place after she finished seventh in 26:55. Team USA Minnesota teammate Katie McGregor was two places back in 27:08.

Olympic 10,000 meter bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan dominated the race, winning by nerly a minute in 25:10.

Team USA Minnesota's Meghan Armstrong was 13th in 27:33.

Find full senior women's results HERE.

Smyth on Smyth ... Team USA Minnesota's Smyth offered the following thoughts on his race in a Team USA Minnesota news release:

"The race plan was definitely to get up there and push," Smyth said. "I was feeling good and wanted to get the field strung out early. As for how the race played out, I was convinced I'd be ready to cover any move Ritz [
Dathan Ritzenhein] or Bauhs [Scott Bauhs who was third] threw in once the three of us had broken away. But the two small consecutive uphills on the course got progressively more difficult for me in the latter laps. Ritz perceptively sensed this and made a very aggressive move on the penultimate lap's uphill portion. After that, I just tried to continue to compete and to break Bauhs."

"I thought the conditions were near perfect for cross country," Smyth said of the clear-skied, 50-degree race-day. "There was a bit of a headwind, but the footing and temperature were perfect. The course was both runner and spectator friendly in my opinion with some nice scenery to boot. It was great to see another strong finish from all the Team USA Minnesota athletes, particularly the men with a 2-8-10 finish."

"Making this world team was extremely high on my priorities for this fall/winter," Smyth concluded. "This is my first World Championships team of any kind and getting the chance to represent one's country is, in my opinion, the greatest privilege in sports. I'm extremely honored to have qualified, but know qualifying is only half the battle. Dennis [Barker, the Team USA Minnesota coach] and I now need to make all the preparations necessary to post a top finish in Poland. I think I can be a top-20 contender."

Video Coverage ... The ubiquitous folks from Flotrack where on hand in Spokane. You can find coverage of the races and pre- and post-race interviews with athletes HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailor/Photo Run.

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