USA and Canada traded honours at the NACAC Cross Country Championships by taking two titles each on Saturday (19) afternoon at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Kenyan-born Robert Cheseret, a younger brother of Bernard Lagat, took the men’s gold and Chelsea Orr dominated the women’s junior race for the USA. Canada’s golden moments came in the men’s junior and the women’s senior races with Ross Proudfoot and Kate Harrison taking the top honours.
The 6th NACAC Championships contested races for the senior men's 8Km and women's 6Km, junior men's 6Km and junior women's 4Km. A record 166 athletes from 20 nations competed in Trinidad and Tobago, which has hosted the past two editions.
Cheseret, 27, sped away from Canada’s Cameron Levins in the final turn to win the men’s 8Km in 23:43, three second ahead of Levins, to claim his first international title.
USA’s Colin Leak overtook Canada’s Barry Britt in the final stages to round up the podium positions in 23:51.
USA scored 15 points to take the team gold, well clear of Canada (37) and the host nation (86).
USA’s Kathy Newberry, Kim Conley, Megan Duwell, Allison Kieffer, Canada’s Kathryn Harrison and Dana Buchanan and Margaret Hernandez of Mexico took the lead in the women’s senior 6Km race.
Harrison, 22, ran away from the strong American contingent to savour her first international victory after a 20:19 effort, three seconds ahead of Duwell (20:22) and Conley (20:24).
Mexican Hernandez was the best non-USA or Canadian ranked athlete on Saturday as she finished seventh.
The team standings were similar as the men’s race as USA scored 14 points for gold, followed by Canada (30) and Trinidad and Tobago (68).
In the first race of the day, Chelsea Orr took a solo lead around the three kilometre mark and went on to win the 4Km junior run by six seconds in 13:54, ahead of Canadians Fiona Benson (14:00) and Maria Bernard (14:02).
With three girls in the top five, Canada bagged the team gold with 15 points, ahead of USA (30) and Puerto Rico (61).
In the men’s junior 6Km race, Canada's Ross Proudfoot and Connor Darlington made a break in the third and final two kilometer lap. Proudfoot prevailed in the final stages to win in 18:27, less than two seconds ahead of Darlington (18:29).
Paul Janikowski completed the Canadian medal sweep in 18:29.
Canada scored 12 points to win the team gold. USA (37 points) and Puerto Rico (56) completed the top three.
Many of the participating athletes here expect to represent their countries at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain, on 20 March.