Fruchey slides onto Team USA at USATF XC Championships in Oregon

Results & Photos

On Saturday, three (3) athletes from the Indiana association competed at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon.  Six championship races were held on a course that needed a mammoth community effort to remove nearly 24 inches of snow during the week leading up to the meet.  The local Bend community came out in force in the days leading up to the meet to clear the snow from the course resulting in the 2 km circuit looking more like a green carpeted tunnel framed by white walls of snow.  To add to the elements of an early morning race-day down pour and warming temperatures left the course extremely treacherous in many areas resulting in numerous falls.
The day began with championship races for masters (ages 40 and over), followed by the under-20 men and women races and then the open women and men took to a course that was well worn and anything but fast.
The top 6 finishers in the open and under-20 races earned automatic Team USA births to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 26 in Kampala, Uganda.  Additionally, athletes finishing in the top 25 were eligible for selection to represent Team USA at the North American Central America Caribbean Championships March 4 in Florida.
The story of the day was the roller roaster ride that ended in IPFWU freshman Madison Fruchey earning spots on Team USA for both the World and NACAC championships next month.  Fruchey, 19, of Huntertown competed in the Junior 6 km women’s race that traversed three circuits of the 2 km course.  Needing to finish in the top six to secure an automatic spot for the national squads and having survived a fall earlier in the race she came through 4 km in ninth place.  As she began the last of the three circuits, she trailed the sixth place runner, Kristen Garcia of Washington, by 12 seconds.  Heading up the 500m long hill on the front side of the loop she quickly moved past two runners into seventh place and had Garcia in her crosshairs.  As they began the decent towards the finish Garcia hit a muddy patch and went to the ground.  Fruchey was able to successfully navigate through the mess and moved into sixth place and was now in the “hot seat.” But as was the case all day, the course had more control over the runners than the runners had on it and Fruchey fell again as she rounded the last turn with 150m.  As Fruchey was getting to her feet Garcia was able to reclaim sixth place and ran to the finish line finishing 2 seconds up on Fruchey.  While disappointed at first, Fruchey later learned that one of the top six finishers had declined their spot on the team and was the first alternate she is expected to be added to the teams by USATF early next week. “ It was nice to have people I had just met or even people that I didn't know cheering so hard for me and the other competitors as we passed them, offered Fruchey.  “There was mutual respect for the struggle against each other and the muddy conditions that I don't think anyone had anticipated would be so difficult.  I'm looking forward to taking in the whole experience of traveling internationally, meeting new people, and making new friends. ”
In the open women’s race (10 km), Anna Weber of Indianapolis ran to a solid 20th place.  Her time was 38:06.  Charlotte Anne Portlock, 35, of Bloomington finished 47th.  Portlock a Major in the Air Force currently serving ROTC Detachment at Indiana University represented the U.S. Air Force  in the Armed Forces Championships that were held in conjunction with the USATF championships.  A Kelley Business School doctoral candidate, Portlock was the 4th scorer for the Air Force team that finished second behind the U.S. Army team.  " Considering the course conditions, I was very happy to finish within a minute of the time I ran there last year when I finished in the top 25, offered Portlock upon returning to Bloomington.  "The city of Bend was a great site to host the championships the past two years."  
The 2018 and 2019 championships are scheduled to be held in Tallahassee, Florida.

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