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Huddle, Estrada Seek to Defend Titles at USATF 5 km Championships

INDIANAPOLIS – Three-time defending women’s champion Molly Huddle and defending men’s champion Diego Estrada headline the fields Sunday at the USATF 5 km Championships, hosted by the CVS Downtown 5k in Providence, Rhode Island.
The USATF 5 km Championships are the ninth stop on the 2015 USATF Running Circuit. The top fifteen finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the 2015 .US National 12K, which takes place Nov. 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.
The loaded women’s field includes Huddle (Providence, Rhode Island), along with three other top-five finishers from the 10,000m final at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships and a host of young pros seeking to make their mark on the national stage. For the Providence-based Huddle, she seeks to build on her victorious USATF 20 km Championship performance two weeks ago in New Haven, Connecticut, while earning her fourth consecutive USATF 5 km Championship title.
In 2014, Huddle eased to victory, winning by 15 seconds over runner-up Jordan Hasay (Portland). While Huddle should find herself in closer proximity to the top challengers, she still enters Sunday’s event as the heavy pre-race favorite.
 Following on Huddle’s heels should be training partner Amy Cragg (Providence), and fellow Olympian Shalane Flanagan (Portland). Cragg looks for a bit of redemption after struggling at the USATF 20 km Championships earlier this month, seeking to find the form that carried her to the USATF 15 km title earlier this season and a fourth place showing at the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m.
For Flanagan, she seeks to build on her U.S. 10K  road record set two weeks ago in Holland. Flanagan slashed three seconds off the mark Lynn Jennings set in 1990, but finishing in 31:03. Clearly Flanagan has maintained her fitness from the IAAF World Outdoor Championships, where she placed sixth in the 10,000m.
Fellow Team USA teammate Nicole Tully (Englewood, N.J.) seeks to build off her finish at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships, where she made the final in the 5,000m. Tully won the U.S. title for 5,000m at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships and has both the speed and strength to challenge for a top three finish Sunday.
Veterans Gabriele Grunewald (Minneapolis), Meghan Peyton (Richfield, Minnesota) and Rachel Ward (Charlottesville, Virginia) all look to make their mark. Grunewald, who finished fourth at the 2012 USATF 5 km Championships, has tremendous speed and can handle the 5,000m distance, while both Peyton and Ward have proven themselves on the roads in the past and seek to grow their resumes with fine showings Sunday.
Rounding out the field, a few young pros look to challenge for top five in Providence. Former Kentucky All-American Cally Macumber (Rochester Hill, Minnesota), current Boston Athletic Association standout Elaina Balouris (Brighton, Massachusetts), Butler All-American Mara Olson (Boulder, Colorado), Baylor standout Rachel Johnson (Waco, Texas) and Cornell graduate Rachel Sorna (Cambridge, Massachusetts) are all highly talented and well credentialed runners ready to make names for themselves on the national stage.
On the men’s side, Estrada eyes a repeat of his 2014 success, where he outkicked the field to win by the narrowest of margins in 13:56.4. The Flagstaff-based runner has had a successful 2015 thus far, running a big 10,000m personal best on the track of 27:30.53 back in late May, while finishing eighth at the USATF Outdoor Championships in the 10,000m.
Estrada’s chief challenge should come from three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein (Belmont, Michigan). Two weeks ago at the USATF 20 km Championships, Ritzenhein led for a fair portion of the race before settling for third, three seconds behind race winner Jared Ward. While Ritzenhein may be lacking the closing speed, he continues to refine his race approach and could very well make the pace incredibly quick early on Sunday.
Daniel Huling (Portland) and Sam Chelanga (Tucson, Arizona) are two others who cannot be overlooked. Huling is coming off an incredible fifth place showing in the 3,000m steeplechase at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships last month, while Chelanga continues to position himself well amongst his fellow Americans, having placed second at the USATF 20 km Championships on Labor Day.
Adding to the top challengers, David Torrence (Malibu, California) is fully capable of coming away with a win. Torrence, who finished fifth in the 5,000m at the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships, won the HOKA ONE ONE Long Island Mile a week and a half ago and continues to show he’s in fine form. If the race comes down to a final sprint, keep an eye on Torrence.
Two-time Olympian Matt Tegenkamp (Portland) is also in the field. The Portland-based veteran struggled at the USATF 20 km Championships two weeks ago, and while he may not contend for the win Sunday, he should challenge for top five. He’s joined by Bowerman Track Club teammates Chris Solinsky (Portland), German Fernandez (Portland) and Huling. Fernandez placed second at the 2014 USATF 5 km Championships.
Like the women’s race, there are some young professionals seeking success in Providence. Former BYU star Jason Witt (Lake Oregon, Michigan), Wisconsin All-American Reed Conner (High Bridge, N.J.), Oregon star Trevor Dunbar (Eugene, Oregon) and Oklahoma standout George Alex (Blowing Rock, N.C.) all possess a good mix of speed and strength, perfect for the 5k distance.
Defending .US National 12K champion Brian Shrader (Flagstaff, Arizona) and 2014 USATF Marathon champion Tyler Pennel (Blowing Rock, N.C.) are also entered.
USATF 5 km Coverage
Race video, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the USATF 5 km Championships, in cooperation with Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USARC.
About the USATF Running Circuit
The USATF Running Circuit is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $30,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 5 km Championships.
The first fifteen U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 5 km Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush

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