After spending a month training hard in the thin air of Colorado Springs, nine BTC athletes are ready to unleash their hard-won fitness this weekend at the US Cross Country Championships, 111th Millrose Games, and Bruce Lehane Invite (Boston University). For those competing indoors, the schedule is compressed this year, with both the US and World Championships taking place within the next five weeks. Several BTC athletes already have World Indoor standards, but a few need to pick them up this weekend. Read on for more!
US Cross Country Championships - Saturday, February 3rd (Tallahassee, FL)
Broadcast info: Live on USATF.tv. The senior women will run at 12:05 pm (ET) and the senior men will run at 12:55 pm (ET).
Every time the topic of Evan Jager running cross country has come up over the course of his pro career, Coach Jerry Schumacher’s response has been the same: “You don’t drive your Ferrari on the grass!”
That follows the logic of an old BTC jibe: Evan’s bouncy track stride is too elegant and temperamental for the country. So it came to pass that one of America’s best distance runners has not run a cross country race since the 2006 Foot Locker Midwest Regional over 11 years ago. That race did not go as planned, as Evan struggled in the mud and ended his high school cross country career on a sour note. Ever the competitor, Evan has yearned to avenge those memories and prove his doubting teammates wrong. He will get his chance this weekend in Tallahassee, Florida at the US Cross Country Championships. There will be no shortage of competition. Defending champion Leonard Korir leads a strong group from the American Distance Project. Portland bragging rights will be on the line with the Nike Oregon Project’s Galen Rupp, another Olympic medalist who seldom competes in Cross Country, entered as well. There was to be a BTC showdown in the race between Evan and Chris Derrick who, despite being three times the US Cross Country Champion, never beat Evan in their days as Illinois high school stars. Unfortunately, Chris is a late scratch with a nagging hamstring injury.
Even if Evan triumphs this weekend, CD’s absence and the relatively manicured course conditions may give his teammates an out to continue to disrespect his abilities over the country. Most will probably give him the nod, but it seems likely that at least Dan Huling will remain implacable. It’s a tough crowd.
On the women’s side, BTC will be represented by two more track medalists in Emily Infeld and Courtney Frerichs. Emily, like Evan, will be making a long awaited return to cross country. She has not competed in the discipline since 2013 when she finished 4th at the US Championships and 21st at Worlds in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Expect Emily to enter the race with her usual enthusiasm, especially as conditions in Tallahassee promise to be much better than the mud and ice of Poland. Courtney was 4th at last year’s US Championships and will be looking for a podium finish after making a big jump with her magical silver medal in the steeplechase at World’s last year.
Millrose Games - Saturday, February 3rd (New York City, NY)
Broadcast info: NBC (4-6pm ET). Men’s 3,000m is at 4:52pm ET. Women’s Wanamaker Mile is at 5:27pm ET.
For 110 years running, the Millrose Games have been the premier meet of the US Indoor season and the mile has been its premier event. Bowerman will be represented by a pair of exceptional middle distance runners in this edition of the Women’s Wanamaker Mile. Kate Grace, who finished second last year, will be looking to climb one step higher on the podium in her BTC debut. After months of doing long aerobic sessions with the distance runners, she’s no doubt excited to get back to her comfort zone on the track. Colleen Quigley ran 4:24 in the mile last winter, but did not run at Millrose. Known more as a steeplechase specialist, she’s eager to prove her chops in a high profile mile race.
Ryan Hill has been can’t-miss-TV at Millrose. The past three years Ryan has two wins and a second place, with each race being decided by 0.16 seconds or less. Ryan will line up in the 3,000m against a field that features 4 other competitors from last summer’s World Championships (the UK’s Andrew Butchart, Jamaica’s Kemoy Campbell, the US’s Shadrack Kipchirchir, and Canada’s Justyn Knight). Woody Kincaid, will run the 3,000m as well, in his first race in nearly a year. Woody’s 2017 was ended prematurely by a stress fracture after a fantastic 13:12 5,000m PR and a second place finish at the US Indoor two mile championships. Like any runner after a long layoff, he’s been anxious to get back to the fun of racing. He will be looking for the World Indoor standard of 7:52.0.
Bruce Lehane Invite - Saturday, February 3rd (Boston, MA)
Broadcast info: Flotrack.org. Women’s 3,000m at 4:25pm ET.
The final BTC event of the weekend is slightly lower key affair in Boston. Shelby Houlihan and Marielle Hall are there with one simple mission: the World Indoor standard of 8:50. Very few women in the US have achieved that time in the qualifying window (Shalane Flanagan is one, but will not be competing at US Indoors), and with the US Championships at altitude, the list of women who run under 8:50 this weekend will shape the list of contenders of the US team. Marielle will be racing in the BTC kit for the first time and we are very excited to see her in action!