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Huddle, Ward Seek to Extend Win Streaks at USATF 10 Mile Championships


MINNEAPOLIS – Olympian Molly Huddle looks to win her third consecutive USATF Running Circuit race, while Jared Ward eyes a fourth straight victory, at the USATF 10 Mile Championships Sunday in St. Paul-Minneapolis, hosted by the Medtronic TC 10 Mile.


The USATF 10 Mile 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 on November 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.


As seems to be the case whenever she’s entered in a USATF Championship race, Huddle enters Sunday’s event as the pre-race favorite. Coming off a strong track season, followed by back-to-back USATF Running Circuit victories at the USATF 20 km and 5 km Championships, Huddle seeks a third-straight win.


Seeking to upset Huddle is fellow Olympian and four-time defending USATF 10 Mile champion Janet Bawcom. Since 2011, Bawcom has proven to be the best in the United States over the ten-mile distance, earning decisive victories each time out. With a runner-up showing at the USATF 20 km Championships last month, Bawcom should challenge Huddle.


A trio of other top contenders include, Brianne Nelson, Olympian Amy Cragg and reigning USATF Cross Country champion Laura Thweatt. Nelson has finished top three in three separate USATF Running Circuit events this year, while Cragg won the USATF 15 km Championships, so each are fully capable of a top three finish.


For Thweatt, it’s a chance to return from an injury that slowed her season, but is looking for a strong race before she debuts in the marathon at the TCS New York City Marathon next month.


Nelson’s training partner Alisha Williams, who finished seventh at the USATF 20 km Championships, should challenge for a top five placing, while fellow USATF Running Circuit veterans Mattie Suver and Kellyn Taylor are also entered. For Taylor, she continues to build off her bronze medal performance over 5,000m at the Pan Am Games earlier this summer, while Suver seeks similar results to her runner-up showing back in February at the USATF Cross Country Championships.


Two young pros may contend for top five, as well. Versatile Alexi Pappas tests her fitness on the roads once again, coming off a summer where she finished 13th over 10,000m and ninth over 5,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships. For Neely Spence Gracey, there’s hope she can crack into the top three, building off her fourth place finish at the USATF 20 km Championships.


Olympian Kara Goucher is a late entry to the field. While Goucher has talked down expectations this week, citing a lack of top-end fitness heading into Sunday’s race, the Boulder-based star can never be counted out.


Other notable contenders capable of cracking the top five include Susanna Sullivan, who placed fourth in 2014, Tara Welling, Team USA Minnesota’s Meghan Peyton and Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist Lindsay Flanagan.


Similar to Huddle, Jared Ward enters Sunday’s contest with a target on his back. Having won the USATF Marathon, 25 km and 20 km Championships this season, Ward seems ready to tackle another hard race and prove yet again he’s one to watch at the USA Olympic Team Trials – Marathon approach.


Ward’s top competition should come from Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein and Sam Chelanga. Both Ritzenhein and Chelanga have been running well on the roads as of late, finishing third and fourth at the USATF 5 km Championships two weeks ago and then third and second at the USATF 20 km Championships. Their mix of strength and speed should serve them well over the ten-mile distance.


Girma Mecheso is another notable entry. After starting the season off with two third place finishes at the USATF Half Marathon and 15 km Championships, the 2014 USATF 20 km champion had a fairly quiet summer of racing. As the fall racing season starts to heat up, Mecheso is one athlete his competition cannot overlook.


Joining Mecheso in the chase for top three are Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and 2014 USATF Marathon champion Tyler Pennel. Abdirahman finished third at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier this year, while taking home a sixth place finish at the USATF 20 km Championships. Meanwhile, Pennel seeks to build off his fifth and sixth place showings at the USATF 20 km and 5 km Championships, with an eye on the .US National 12K next month.


Just like the women’s race, the men’s race is deep with talent, as both old and young pros challenge themselves over the ten-mile distance. Parker Stinson, who won the Great Cow Harbor 10K last month, should push for a top five finish, as well as USATF 5 km fifth place finisher Jason Witt. Add in notable road veterans Craig Leon, Jonathan Grey, Jacob Riley, Stephen Pifer and .US National 12K champion Brian Shrader, along with German Fernandez and former University of Texas All-American Craig Lutz, and it should be quite the fight for a top ten finish.


USATF 10 Mile Coverage

The USATF 10 Mile Championships will be broadcast live beginning at 7:00 am CT at Race video, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race 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 $81,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 10 Mile Championships.


The first fifteen U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 10 Mile Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5, 9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3 and 1.5, 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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