It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was a great show and for many athletes competing at Fairmount Park on Sunday April 11, they’ll be able to hold onto that feeling in spite of the expected overcast skies and rain showers they’ll have to contend with on the 1 km loop course.
A field of 50, split over the 10 km and 20 km events will grind it out on the fast and flat loop in the City of Brotherly Love, looking for a spot on Team USA tentatively scheduled to compete in Guayaquil, Ecuador on the weekend of May 8-9. Whether the Pan Am Cup occurs is dependent upon all of the logistics with Covid protocols and international travel, along with whether the host nation is permitted to stage the event and USATF allows the team to travel.
In addition to needing to achieve finishing place for selection to the roster, athletes will need to meet a performance standard in the race, or have one in the qualifying period, as outlined in our previous article on RW Performance Standards. Selected athletes will also need to contend with USADA testing. U20 athletes/coaches are usually new to this and should read about the Antidoping Process prior to the race.
The U20 10 km event will be a combined race, starting at 8:00am. 4 men and 7 women are entered. It’s not likely that a full team will be selected, as most of the entrants are new to the distance. Realistically, the likeliest to achieve a qualifying time are Samuel Allen, Jacob Lawson and Grace Endy.
A combined 20 km race will see 36 walkers toe the line at 9:15am looking to make Team USA. 3 invited guests will also be racing. These races are hard to pick a team from because of the relative depth and balance in both fields.
Nick Christie (Newfeel/Decathlon) should be the favorite for the men and is already selected for the 50 km should be want to race that event. After him, Emmanuel ‘Natos’ Corvera (NYAC) is the one most likely to upset, with the improving AJ Gruttadauro (Shore AC) seeming the lead the younger guys coming out of the NAIA. His former teammates Dan Nehnevaj (Raleigh Walkers) and Steven Smith from WVU Tech should battle with Anthony Peters (Raleigh Walkers) to close out the top 6. Emerging elite, Jordan Crawford (Missouri Baptist) in the NAIA is making his 20 km debut and could surprise based upon a big improvement at 5000m recently.
The ladies race is a mystery, as most of the big names have not raced in over a year. Robyn Stevens (Newfeel/Decathlon) is the favorite, being the most active and also the champion from the 35 km Trials in Santee. She has a spot there, should she choose to use it. Maria Michta-Coffey (Oiselle/WalkUSA) and Miranda Melville (NYAC) should be the ones to challenge for the win. Taylor Ewert (Arkansas) is walking for the 1st time since entering college and making a name for herself in the running side of the sport. Challengers for a team spot may come from Anali Cisneros (UNA) from Judson Univ, Amberly Melendez (Harrier TC) from Northwest Univ, Celina Lepe (Team Nuun) and Stephanie Casey (Harrier TC).
One of the best things to come out of the re-emergence of competition is seeing that the tradition of walkers competing as Unattached athletes seems to be going away. More of the top athletes are finding the benefit of representing a team and training as a group. The support structures found is critical to seeing success long term in athlete development.
Live splits will be available thanks to the team at Leone Timing. You can follow them below. Use the 3 horizontal lines in the top left to open the menu. If you’re putting on a race or meet in the Northeast, they’re one of the best in the business and come highly recommended. Should info about a livestream become available, that will be posted below as well.