Canada's Sasha Gollish winning the senior race at the NACAC Cross Country Championships in Boca Raton (© Mike Scott (organisers))
Canada emerged as the most successful nation Saturday (4) at the NACAC Cross Country Champions by claiming three individual and two team gold medals at South Country Park in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
Brogan Macdougall led off the medal crop for the land of the Maple Leaf by following in the footsteps of her sister Branna who won the title last year after taking bronze in 2015.
She completed the flat and windy course in 16:39.28*, ahead of team member Hannah Bennison (16:44.14) and Mexico’s Maria Ruiz Acuna (17:05.34). With three other girls in the top six, Canada secured the team title, followed by the United States and Mexico.
Controversy ensued in the men’s junior 6.5km race. Mexico’ Arturo Reyna crossed the finish line first in just under 19:19, but the race was subject to review after all the runners were led off course with less than 200 metres to run. After the review, it was determined that Reyna - 18th at the continental event last year - would share gold with Canada’s Kiernan Lumb. Puerto Rico’s Victor Ortiz improved from 11th in 2016 to bronze in 19:22.16.
The USA claimed the team crown, with Mexico and Canada rounding out the podium.
In the women’s senior race, Canada’s Sasha Gollish confirmed her early season form by dominating the 8km race in 26:48.89. The 2015 Pan American Games 1500m gold medallist applied her mile speed to prevail over USA’s Amy Van Alstine (26:59.30) and Megan Rolland (27:03.07).
Gollish, second at the 2016 Pan American Cross Country Championships, is preparing for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017, to be held in the Ugandan capital on 26 March.
With Claire Sumner, Victoria Coates and Lisa Brooking finishing fourth, sixth and seventh, Canada topped the team’s division with 18 points, the same score as the USA. Puerto Rico clinched bronze.
Wearing the team USA jersey for the first time, Abbabiya Simbassa led a medal sweep for the host country in the men’s elite 8km race. The 23-year old claimed his first international title after a close battle with Augustus Maiyo, second with 22:46.27. Maiyo improved from his third place in 2015.
Joseph Gray completed the podium sweep for the USA squad in a race they have not lost at the NACAC or Pan American Cross Country Championships since 2012.
Occupying the top five spots, the USA took an easy team gold, ahead of Canada and Puerto Rico.
Close to 100 runners participated at the regional event. Athletes from Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda also took part. A community 5km was also held.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
*Note: extended times