ATHLETICS: Houlihan’s speed makes her U.S. Cross Country champ in Tallahassee

American distance star Shelby Houlihan (Photo: jenaragon94 via Wikipedia)

Speed kills. Shelby Houlihan wants you to remember that.

It’s what brought her from fourth to first in the final 1,000 meters to win the 2019 U.S. Cross Country Championship at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

She won in a rare match-up of four American record holders – Houlihan (5,000 m), Molly Huddle (10,000 m), Courtney Frerichs (Steeplechase) and Shannon Rowbury (1,500 m) – but was at the tail end of a four-runner pack with one kilometer left in the 10 km race on Saturday.

But she had plenty left and ran the final 1,000 m in a swift 3:02.1 to pass Huddle, Marielle Hall and 2017 winner Aliphine Tuliamuk and win by a comfortable 8.5 seconds ahead of Huddle. Hall finished third in 32:56.5 and Aliamuk crossed in 33:03.3.

The top six finishers are in line to represent the U.S. in Aarhus (DEN) at the World Cross Country Championships in March, so the 5-6 finish of Amy Cragg (33:17.5) and Frerichs (33:24.6) were important.

The men’s race was also decided between a four-man breakaway group of defending champion Leonard Korir, Hillary Bor, Stanley Kebenei and Shadrack Kipchirchir.

Korir was trying for his third straight U.S. title, but it was Kipchirchir and Bor who pushed hard with less than a half-mile to go and then Kipchirchir edged ahead at the finish to win by 0.8: 28:52.5-28:53.3. Korir was third and Hillary Bor came up for fourth and then Kebenei and Scott Fauble finished 5-6 to earn spots on the Worlds Cross Country team. Summaries:

USATF Cross Country National Championships
Tallahassee, Florida (USA) ~ 2 February 2019
(Full results here)

Men (10 km): 1. Shadrack Kipchirchir, 28:52.5; 2. Emmanuel Bor, 28:53.3; 3. Leonard Korir, 28:55.3; 4. Hillary Bor, 28:56.9; 5. Stanley Kebenei, 29:04.2; 6. Scott Fauble, 29:20.4; 7. Mason Ferlic, 29:31.7; 8. Reid Buchanan, 29:35.5; 9. Andrew Hunter, 29:36.4; 10. Martin Hehir, 29:37.5.

Junior Men (8 km): 1. Shuaib Aljabaly, 24:38.7; 2. Gabriel Mudel, 24:42.8; 3. Meika Beaudoin-Rousse, 24:43.0; 4. Charlie Perry, 24:43.0; 5. Khalid Hussein, 24:45.4.

Women (10 km): 1. Shelby Houlihan, 32:46.8; 2. Molly Huddle, 32:55.3; 3. Marielle Hall, 32:56.5; 4. Aliphine Tuliamuk, 33:03.3; 5. Amy Cragg, 33:17.5; 6. Courtney Frerichs, 33:24.6; 7. Karissa Schweizer, 33:28.2; 8. Stephanie Bruce, 33:30.0; 9. Anne-Marie Blaney, 33:34.4; 10. Sarah Pagano, 33:44.0.

Junior Women (6 km): 1. Nicole Clermont, 21:14.0; 2. Kayla Smith, 21:18.2; 3. Riley Rigdon, 21:26.8; 4. Grace Ping, 21:26.9; 5. Savannah Shaw, 21:28.4.