On Sunday, twenty five (25) members of USATF Niagara competed the .US National 12K in Alexandria, Virginia and for the third year in a row Molly Huddle won the open women’s title. In the Masters championships the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH) women’s 40+ and 60+ teams also earned the top spot on the awards podium as they won national team titles. Individually, three Niagara masters athletes earned a visit to the awards podium for finishing in the top three in their age divisions.
As expected, Huddle set a very fast pace from the gun, passing through the first mile in 5:10, already three seconds ahead of the competition. The Elmira native continued to press in miles two and three, building a lead of over 100 meters before the turnaround point.
Despite the large lead, Huddle charged on, running calm and in control as each mile clicked along. With the finish line in sight and a lead of nearly 30 seconds over the rest of the field, Huddle coasted home for her third straight .US National 12K title in 38:26.
"I tried to go out around where I did last year, 5:05 to 5:10. My legs are a little tired, so I was trying to stay within myself, offered Huddle. “It was hard to grind out there alone. I was worried about them coming back on me. I slowed down a little bit.”
In addition to her race win, Huddle also earned her third straight USATF Running Circuit overall title. Accumulating another 30 points, to go along with her four additional USATF Running Circuit race wins in 2015, Huddle surpassed the 100 point mark for the season, finishing with 105 total points. She earned $20,000 for the race win and will receive another $20,000 check for the winning the year-long circuit.
Huddle was not the only Niagara athlete to have a gold medal dropped over her head as the GVH women’s masters 40+ and 60+ teams each won national team titles. The 40+ team easily out ran TNT International from the Mid-Atlantic association 2:26:55 to 3:04:53 (the top three times from each team determine the overall score). The team members were Melissa Senall (Airport), Wakenda Tyler (Rochester), and Audra Naujokas-Knapp (Rochester). The scoring members of the winning 60+ team were Sharon Moore (Rochester), Belinda O'Brien (Airport), and Cindy Ingalls (Pittsford). Both teams extended their leads in the year-long USATF Masters Club Grand Prix with only one event left - the Club National Cross Country Championships on December 12. The 40+ team is seeking their second title in a row while the 60+ team is looking for their third title in a row.
Second place GVH team finishes were turned in by the Women 50+, Men 50+, and Men 60+ teams. Both of the men’s teams are leading the grand prix but are in tight battles heading into the club championships next month.
Individually, Tony Gingello (Rochester), Al Evans (Beaver Dams), and Audra Naujokas-Knap (Rochester) each finished in the top three in their divisions and earned visits to the awards podium. Gingello finished 2nd in the men’s 65-69 division running 52:14. Evans (men 50-54) and Naujokas-Knap (women 45-49) finished third in their divisions. Evans ran 41:47 and was just 17 seconds behind the division champion Steve Kartalia of Maryland.
Evans’ age-graded score of 88.47% was the best on the day for all of the Niagara athletes. Other men over 85% were Charlie Andrews (Rochester) and Mike Nier (Rochester) who scored 86.91% and 86.82%, respectively. The top women’s scores was turned in by Ingalls (84.80%) and Moore (84.63%).