April 2, 2003
AVENCHES, Switzerland - Meb Keflezighi placed 11th in the men's long-course race Sunday (March 30) at the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships to lead Team USA to 7th in the team standings. Also on Sunday at the Institut National Equestre Avenches in Avenches, Team USA finished eighth in the junior men's race and 13th in the senior women's short course event.
A two-time U.S. cross country champ, Keflezighi ran aggressively throughout 12 km race to finish 11th, improving upon his previous best-ever World Cross Country finish of 13th in 2001. Keflezighi moved immediately into the lead pack at the start and stayed between 11th and 13th to finish in 37:16. Ahead of Keflezighi, Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele successfully completed a short course/long course double for the second straight year, winning the 12 km by 13 seconds in 35:56.
Keflezighi teamed with Abdi Abdirahman (35th, 38:54), Edwardo Torres (51st, 39:25), and Chad Johnson (58th, 39:56) to total 112 points, good enough for 7th in the team standings. Dave Cullum (40:24) and Nick Rogers (41:01) finished 71st and 79th for Team USA.
"I felt really good, but I went out a little bit too fast," said Keflezighi. "The team plan was to get out fast and hold our position, and the more I'm out front , the better the team score's gonna be. There were two Kenyans coming up on me at the finish, and I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I had to compete."
For complete Team USA coverage from the 2003 World Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org; for complete results, visit www.iaaf.org.
SENIOR MEN'S 12 km
Individual Standings: 1, Kenenisa Bekele, ETH, 35:56; 2, Patrick Ivuti, KEN, 36:09; 3, Gebre-egziab Gebremariam, ETH, 36:17; 4, Richard Limo, KEN, 36:39; 5, Paul Koech, KEN, 36:42. USA Finishers: 11, Meb Keflezighi 37:16; 35, Abdi Abdirahman 38:54; 51, Edwardo Torres 39:25; 58, Chad Johnson 39:56; 71, Dave Cullum 40:24; 79, Nick Rogers 41:01.
Team Standings: 1, Kenya 17; 2, Ethiopia 23; 3, Morocco 51; 4, Spain 68; 5, Portugal 85. United States finished 7th with 112 points.