5 Thoughts: USATF XC 2019 Fallout

Justin Horneker
4 min readFeb 4, 2019


It’s Shelby Houlihan’s world… we’re just living in it.

Welcome back to my 5 thoughts series where I recap a race or weekend in running and give you my general musings on what the greater impact may be overall. Check out some of my last thoughts here.

1. In an ideal world, Shelby Houlihan would run IAAF XC this year.

As of this writing, it isn’t clear if Shelby will run in Denmark next month, but it would be great for the sport if she did. The way she handled this weekend’s race against arguably the deepest women’s field ever assembled was a true showing of how she has cemented herself as America’s top runner right now.

With this weekend’s XC title she has now won 5 American titles over the past year:

2018 Indoor: Mile (4:13.07), 3000m (9:00.08)

2018 Outdoor: 1500 (4:05.58), 5000m 15:31.08

2019 Cross Country (32:46.8)

If indoor was a surprise and outdoor was establishing her dominance then this weekend’s 10k was pouring salt on the wounds.

2. Bowerman Babes (Not Centro) are lightyears ahead of every other US training group

This isn’t new news but just reaffirmation that the training group including NCAA champ Karissa Schweizer, Olympic Silver Medalist Courtney Frerichs, World Championship Bronze medalist Amy Cragg, NCAA Champion Marielle Hall, and previously mentioned Shelby Houlihan, is the best that the US has seen since Athletics West. It probably isn’t a surprise that Bowerman Track Club won the meet but finishing 5 in the top 7 of what could be argued as the best USATF XC meet ever is a huge accomplishment.

BTC are the sharks in the pond right now with OTC/Brooks Beasts/NOP falling off from what they once were, and these types of races just reinforce that. Will all 5 Bowerman Babes run Worlds? I hope so… but I also doubt it, which means that Steph Bruce will make another US team…

3. Scott Fauble, Alphine Tuliamuk and Steph Bruce are closing the gap

I love Ben Rosario and what he represents in the USA running hierarchy, but it’s no secret that they/Hoka are lagging behind what the top tier of American distance running has to offer — overall talent.

They are closing the gap though, between what Bruce, Fauble and Kellyn Taylor have been able to accomplish in the past 2 years, NAZ elite has been able to have exposure in every big US event despite having 1/10th of the funding of the big programs. Meanwhile, giving talented athletes like Scott Fauble a chance to make the most out of his talent level while still being able to run professionally.

Just like what the Hansons were able to do in a past era of distance running, NAZ elite is successfully highlighting that next tier of athlete and, with Rosario’s guidance, are putting athletes in the position to make national teams. This honestly seems simple to me and many athletes/training groups miss the mark… document everything and broadcast it to the masses! NAZ elite/BTC/Tinman Elite/New Balance are all doing this very successfully right now and I think we have Ben’s group to thank because they are leading the way.

4. The Men’s race was everything we could ask for out of USATF XC

While every member in the top 5 of this year’s men’s race were members of the American Distance Project, the race came down to the wire. Shadrick Kipchirchir was able to outlast Bor and Korir by 1 and 3 seconds respectively. Meanwhile, Drew Hunter underwhelmed me in this race overall — as someone who looks to be the future of American distance running, a 9th place finish (29:36) has to be disappointing any way we look at it… but his attitude is infectious:

Scott Fauble (6th place 29:30) was another runner that made things interesting; a talented runner that outlasted the likes of Garret Heath, Drew Hunter, Reid Buchanan, and Mason Ferlic. Fauble has big aspirations for the marathon going forward and hopefully can use this 6th place finish to move forward in his spring marathon efforts.


The biggest problem I had with these Championships is that they weren’t readily available for everyone to watch!

There needs to be a better way to broadcast Track & Field because the current system just isn’t working. You don’t spread the sport by putting everything behind a paywall — either USATF+or Flotrack — and you don’t keep current fans by making every stream low quality. I’ve said for years that Flotrack and USATF+ would be worth it if the streams were of decent quality… but neither end up producing content suitable for what they’ve signed up for. Running is an exciting sport if showcased correctly… the problem is that we rarely showcase it correctly.

What would you change about the way we showcase the sport? Comment below or send me a tweet @hornekerjustin.

Happy Running,




Justin Horneker

Writing about Soccer and the current state of sports.