Murphy, Lautzenheiser Watson, Wood Claim XC Titles


Mechanicsville, VA - For the second consecutive year, USATF Virginia hosted their cross country championships as part of the Richmond Spider Alumni Open Cross Country Meet on the Pole Green Park Cross Country Course in Mechanicsville, Virginia.
In the Open Men’s race Ryan Murphy (Richmond, Va.) and Jason Driscoll (Richmond, Va.) battled throughout with the outcome undecided until the final stretch. In the end, Murphy (17:03) claimed the individual title by six seconds over RVA Distance Project teammate Driscoll (17:09). Robert Flanagan (S. Chesterfield, Va.) claimed the final podium spot with his bronze medal performance (17:52).
Murphy and Driscoll were joined by Colson Williams (Richmond, Va./18:09) to complete their newly formed RVA Distance Project team which claimed the Men’s Open team title. Their win earned their team $500 towards the USATF National Club Championships to be held this December in San Francisco, CA.
What was a close battle for the men’s open title was a runaway on the women’s side. Kathleen Lautzenheiser (Richmond, Va.) took the lead from the gun and never looked back as she raced to victory in a time of 18:43. Lautzenheiser claimed the Open Women’s title over Richmond Track & Field Club teammate Nicole Thomas (Richmond, Va.) who ran 20:01. Rounding out the top three was Kate Spangler (Richmond, Va.) who ran 22:12.
Lautzenheizer and Thomas were joined by Bobbie Davey (Henrico, Va.) on the Richmond Track & Field Club’s team. The three scoring positions ensured they captured the Women’s Open team title and also qualified for the $500 travel stipend for the USATF National Club Championships to be held in San Francisco this December.
The junior races had the deepest fields on the day with 40 percent of the event’s competitors listed as under 20 years of age. Coming into the Junior Men’s Championships, the favorite was Jacob Watson of King George, Va. As expected, Watson, who placed 10th in the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last December, claimed his first USATF Virginia Junior title. Watson used a fast start to steadily pull away from runner-up Gavin Jenkins (Washington, Va.) and 3rd place finisher Jonathan Watson, who is only 15 years of age and the younger brother of Jacob.
In the Junior Women’s race it looked to be a battle between Julia Wood (Woodville, Va.), Khloe Pointer (North Chesterfield, Va.) and Archana Shekharan (Moseley, Va.), who all entered with strong resumes. Wood and Pointer placed 3rd and 4th respectively, separated by only two seconds, in the 2014 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last December in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Shekharan placed 32nd and collectively the three led their Richmond Track & Field Club to a runner-up spot in the national team championships among 15-16 year olds last December. 
On this morning Julia Wood didn’t want it coming down to the end. Like her male counterpart she started fast with the open women’s leader and continued to press during the race. As she came down to the final stretch to the finish line she held a commanding lead over Pointer and finished comfortably in first in a time of 19:00. Pointer finished second in 19:44 followed by Shekharan in 20:06 to round out the top three podium spots.
In the Women’s Junior Team Championship it was a sweep for the Richmond Track & Field Club as Wood, Pointer and Shekharan claimed the top 3 junior women’s places for a perfect team score.

In the masters divisions titles were won by Stefan Calos (men 50-54), Clark Jackson (men 55-59),  Brenda Barrera (women 50-54), and  Ethel Guerrero  (women 60-64).       
Overall, the USATFVirginia Cross Country Championships were met with high praise by participants and race directors alike. In its second year at Pole Green Park, the event expanded significantly both in the amount of participants and in the competitiveness within the age groups.
“We were really excited to host the USATF Virginia Championships again this year”, said University of Richmond Head Men’s Cross Country Coach and Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder Steve Taylor. “This Pole Green Cross Country Course is one of the best. It is spectator friendly and as nice of a running surface as I’ve seen. The Hanover County Parks & Recreation staff do a great job throughout the year in maintaining this facility.”
“We like watching this event grow and hosting in conjunction with our annual Spider Alumni Open” said Taylor. “Last year there were no complete teams and this year three categories were awarded. We are avid supporters of USATF Virginia and the officials. There were so many USATF Virginia officials out here today. They were amazing and we want to publicly thank them for their efforts, not just today but throughout the year.”
The Collegiate Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles through running, once again served as the presenting sponsor for the championships. “The CRA is happy to be the presenting sponsor of the races today’, said CRA Co-Founder Jon Molz. “We recognize the importance of being a support organization not just for our national championships events, but also for our local communities. As we grow as an organization, Richmond remains our home and it’s exciting to watch great races and be part of events like this.”