The Biggest Winners From The 2024 U.S. Cross Country Championships

By Kyle Merber

January 24, 2024

Don’t let it being an Olympic year distract you from the fact that it is also a World XC year. Look, there wasn’t an abundance of noise about the US Cross Country Championships this year – we ARE distracted!

Is it possible that running a 10K over grass in January will impact how one performs in July at the Olympic Trials? Probably not. But it’s not just about one half-hour run. It’s the training and travel surrounding it.

A lot is going on in 2024 and therefore fields were a bit more sparse than normal, with athletes having to choose their own adventure in the way they approach this season. And since the Olympics trump all, the Marathon Trials and Sound Running 10,000m will attract the majority of athlete’s affection.

But still… USAs was a qualifying event with the top six finishers earning a bid to the World Champs in Serbia on March 30th – 10 weeks is enough time to get a stress fracture, some PRP shots, a lobotomy, and still show up to the start of your “A” race in shape.

This was a predictable problem, so maybe USATF should have gone with a more European-style team selection – if there was ever a year to name a portion of the athletes to the World XC team by committee, then this would have been the one to do it. But we’re American, dammit. And we love a good trial, be it OJ Simpson’s, Gwyneth Paltrow’s, or the Olympic Marathon team selecting one.

It’s not necessarily where World XC fits in the schedule that is the issue, it was this qualifying race specifically. Surely if spots were offered to Alicia Monson and Grant Fisher to bypass this race in Virginia and instead get a direct flight to Serbia they’d consider it.

Weini KelatiWeini Kelati

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

So credit where credit is due. Having a full schedule did not prevent Weini Kelati from showing up one week after setting the American record in the half marathon. Her legs must have recovered quickly because this was a glorified tempo. Kelati finished 21st at Worlds last year and is committed to returning to improve on it after struggling with some injuries in the lead-in to that race.

Rounding out the qualifiers [if they choose to go] will be a team of international rookies led by Emma Hurley, Katie Camarena, Allie Ostrander, Cailie Logue, and Abby Nichols.

Okay, maybe my above suggestion that more athletes would be willing to race internationally if they didn’t have to run the qualifier is not a perfect solution. That’s because the men’s champion Cooper Teare has already shared that he will not be competing. The goal coming in for him seems to have been to get a huge boost of confidence in his first race back training under coach Ben Thomas out of Virginia Tech. (Hocker skipped World Indoors in Serbia during the 2022 season… Ben, if you’re reading this: let the boys go to Serbia!)

Cooper TeareCooper Teare

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

This meet is a qualifier in nature, though it is also a national championship and it should be appreciated when athletes show up to win one of those. Teare’s last cross country race was struggling across the finish at the 2021 NCAA XC championships – so yes, this was some sweet redemption!

With a couple of kilometers left it looked like a triathlete might steal the whole thing, which had me conflicted. Like, we should be rooting for the pure runners to win the running races, right? Granted Morgan Pearson has run 1:01 for the half… but if he is suddenly better at running than all the runners, what does that mean for us – do we all have to start smelling like chlorine and going bankrupt buying bike gear too? The former Buff finished fourth, but will not be heading to Belgrade as he has already qualified for Paris in the triathlon.

With those two opting out, the team will likely include Anthony Rotich, Ahmed Muhumed, Emmanuel Bor, Christian Allen, Reid Buchanan, and Anthony Camerieri. And before you can email me, Reid Buchanan is running the Marathon Trials, which further invalidates the earlier point I was trying to make. You are killing me, Christian and Reid! (Full results)

For more of the top stories and analysis from the biggest stories in track and field from the past week, subscribe to The Lap Count newsletter for free. New edition every Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. ET.

Kyle Merber

After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.