USA and Canadian dominate NACAC Cross Country

US and Canadian runners dominated the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Saturday (22 Feb).

The Americans captured the Junior women’s 4K and the men’s 8K races while their North American neighbours ran away with the Junior men’s 6K and women’s 6K events.

Leading the way for the US was Kenyan-born Robert Cheseret who took the 4 lap men’s 8K race in 23 minutes 42.7 seconds in an exciting race finished ahead Canadian’s Levin (23:45.8).

The race was run in slight rain as Jon Rankin of the Cayman Islands to an early lead and headed the lead pack for three of the four laps. Rankings seem on course to break the US/Canadian dominance but his early efforts left him without enough energy in the final stage of the race as he was passed.

He eventually finished seventh (24:09:5) and was the top Caribbean finisher. Cheseret took the lead during the last lap and sprinted away to the gold with Levin in hot pursuit behind.

Cheseret’s team-mate Colin Leak took home the bronze. Speaking after his win, Cheseret said his strategy was to follow the leaders and sprint in the end.

“It worked out the way I wanted. I made my move in the last turn when I saw Levin showing down. I like the conditions. It was cool.” 27-year Cheseret is the younger brother of 2007 double World Champion and two time Olympic 1500m medallist Bernard Lagat.

The US captured their fifth straight team gold ahead of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago third. The hosts improved on their fourth place finish in Mt. Irvine in 2009.

Chelsea Orr (USA) won the first day of the day, the Junior women’s 4K. Orr took the lead at the end of the first lap after the Canadian runners set the early page.

The American extended her lead and pulled away to win in 13:53:2 and prevented a Canadian sweep as Fiona Benson, Maria Bernard and Carise Thompson took second to fourth places.

Jamaica’s Roshae Burrel was the best Caribbean finisher crossing the line in 13th position.

Orr said felt great with the victory as she was aiming as a top five finish. ‘I felt good even though I am tired after running in the humidity. I went ahead after I realize that no one wanted to take the lead.”

In the team competition Canada was first ahead of USA and Puerto Rico. Jamaica was third in 2010. In the Junior men’s 6K there was not stopping for the Canadian runners as they took the top three spots. Ross Proudfoot was the winner (18:26:7) ahead of Paul Janikowski (18:28:1) and Connor Darlington 918:34:34).

In the 3 lap race, the Canadians were ahead by the end of the first circuit with US and Puertorican runners just behind. Jacob Sienko of the USA and Mexican Said Diaz tried to take the lead in the second lap but the Proudfoot and his team-mates stayed ahead to ensure that all the medals went to Canada.

Oraine Wint (Jamaica) was the first Caribbean runner to cross line. He was 12th in 19:20:0. Canada won the team gold ahead of USA and Puerto Rico. In 2010 Kemoy Campbell (Jamaica) of won the Junior men’s 6K race in 18:00 to become the first Caribbean athlete to win a NACAC Cross country title.

Jamaica also finished third in the team’s race.
Canadian Harrison copped the women’s 6K in 20:18:8 as American runners filled the next five spots. Megan Duwell was second, with Kim Conley, Allison Kieffer, Katherine Newberry, and Kara June following behind. Harrison edged ahead in second lap and pulled away for the win.

The highest Caribbean finisher again came from Jamaica as Tanice Barnett finished in 12th (22:12:8) just ahead of Kenisha Pascal of Grenada (23:42:0) and home girl Celine Lestrade (24:02:3). USA took the team gold with Canada in second and TT in third. The local ladies matched their bronze medal effort from 2010.

TT’s coach Kenrick Williams said he was impressed with the two medals won. “We were hoping to come in the top three and we did. We were able beat Jamaica and St. Lucia who had full teams.”
TT’s two team bronze medals is this country’s best ever performance in the seven edition of the NACAC Cross country championships.

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