USATF XC Nats: Fernandez, Spence Win Junior Races



 DERWOOD, MD -- Being a member of Team USA is something that no one can ever take away from you.  So the best off-roaders from around the country gathered today atthe USATF Cross Country Championships to decide who would have the honor to represent the stars and stripes at this year's World Championship in Jordan.

The course, just minutes from the nation's capital, is moderately difficult with hills, uneven footing, and even a bit of soggy ground.  With temperatures around 60 degrees though it was a perfect day for a cross country race!

Girls Junior Race

Photo by Timothy O'Dowd, for

Three two-kilometer loops greeted the girls, which for most of them was their first experience at the 6000 meter distance that they'll be seeing plenty of in college.  So by default a lot of PRs to go around!

Allie McLaughlin stuck to her predictable race plan that we have come to know and love!  The senior from Colorado took the pace out hard and lead through the first lap with as much as a 100 meter lead through 2K.  She likes to get separation and then try to hang on the rest of the race and fight off the chasers.  

Today's chase pack was lead by the potent duo of Neely Spence and Ashley Brasovan, who kept Allie in their sights.  Brasovan stuck close to her good friend Neely--the two keep in touch since meeting at Footlocker Nationals two years ago--for about 3K before Neely ratcheted up the pace and quickly closed the gap to McLaughlin.

Spence continued to power ahead and extend her lead, while Brasovan held tight and finally caught McLaughlin just before the 5000 meter mark.  From there Spence cruised to a 14-second victory with a time of 20:43.

Brasovan, the 2007 Footlocker Champ and 2008 runner-up, ran a 20:57 on her first time at the distance.  Afterwards she said she was pleased with the effort, though the competitive future Duke Blue Devil is never content with second place.  "It was pretty good... I was happy with it, but I have been a little injured in the past few weeks and haven't been able to put in as many miles as I'd like."  The Floridian was joined at the race  by her future assistant coach at Duke University and two of her teammates, one of whom ran in the race with her and the other who was in the open division.  Looking on the bright side though, Brasovan said "I'm really excited about the trip to Jordan though!"  Team USA will head to the Middle Eastern company for the World Champsionship on March 28.

Rounding out the top six qualifiers for Team USA, will be Alex Dunne of California (21:05), McLaughlin (21:10), Sara Vaughn of Oklahoma (21:32), and Emily Pritt of Ohio (21:44).

Junior Women's Race Photo Gallery by Tim O'Dowd of

Boys Junior Race

Photo by Timothy O'Dowd, for

Since last summer it has been German-Mania in the country.  The most popular young distance runner in the nation continues to increase his legend by the week!  He followed his stunning senior track season with a stellar freshman cross country debut with Oklahoma State.  And last week he put down a 3:56 indoor mile.

And today against the best juniors in the country, he pushed Luke Puskedra and Chris Derrick for 6K before despensing of the competition in the last 2000 meters.  German finished the 8K course with a time of 23:20.

Chris Derrick, who slipped at one point in the last 2K on the slippery course, was 19 seconds back in 23:39 and Puskedra was third in 23:53.

The first high schooler was Bobby Nicholls of Colorado in 11th place with 25:02.