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Junior Men

Fernandez moves to 25th to lead, just ahead of Heineking; Williams 35th

John Nepolitan story and photos

The start of the men's junior race with Team USA members visible in and near the middle

Like in the opening race of the day, the Junior Men would start out in a huge pack with no real race leader. The one thing that was for sure, this was shaping to be a tri-meet between Kenya vs Ethiopia vs Uganda. Through the early stages, those three nations dominated the front pack with a few runners from other nations sprinkled in.

 Finishes: Fernandez 25th, Heineking 26th and Williams 35th.
At the end of the opening lap, Lucas Rotich, 2nd at the World Youth 3000 in 2007 and with a 3000 best of 7:59.61, was leading a 1-2-3-4 Kenyan sweep. Emil Heineking was right at the back of the lead pack in 22nd place, while his teammates German Fernandez and Ryan Sheridan were just 3 seconds back in 34th and 35th place. Team USA’s 4th scorer, Kevin Williams, was right with them in 39th place while Robert Moldovan (55th ) and Ben Johnson (80th) were working their way through the field after a conservative start. Team USA sat in 4th after one loop behind Kenya, Ethiopia and Canada.

During loop two, there may have been a little shuffling at the front, but Kenya still held onto the team lead with Titus Mbishei leading the way. The first 21 places were all present or former East African runners, with Charles Koech, a former Kenyan now running for Qatar, the lone non East African nation in that group. Heineking continued to lead the Americans in 24th place, now 22 seconds off the lead. Behind him the pack of Fernandez, Sheridan and Williams were working together, holding down places 33-34-35. Both Moldovan and Johnson had improved their places, moving up to 48th and 74th, as now the runners would attack Haggis Knowe for the final two loops. The USA was still in 4th place, but the Ugandan team had slipped ahead of them as Canada started to drop.

Up and over Haggis Knowe, the Kenyans had given up control of the lead as now Ben Kipagat of Uganda was the race leader. But Kenya still had a hold of the team lead with runners in 3-4-6-8-9. The big move by the front pack in the race was starting to have its effect of the rest of the field, as Heineking had held his place in 24th, but was now 56 seconds behind the leaders. Of all the Team USA members, Fernandez was moving best of all having climbed into the top 30 coming by with one loop to go in 27th. Williams also was moving well, crossing in 34th, while Sheridan began to struggle and had fallen off from the pair now in 44th position. Moldovan and Johnson were still fighting to pick up runners, coming past with one loop to go in 57th and 72nd.

The last time up Haggis Knows would determine the race winner as Ibthim Jeilan, who was 7th with just one loop to go, blasted away from the field to claim gold by 2 seconds over his teammate Ayele Abshero. Jeilan was the 2006 World Junior 10,000 meter champion and holds bests of 27:02.81 for 10,000 meters and 13:09.38 for 5,000 meters.

Ben Johnson fights for 72nd. 
Through the last loop, Fernandez continued to moved up and eventually caught Heineking down the last stretch as the pair finished 25th and 26th in 24:15 and 24:16. Williams (35th) in 24:34 and Sheridan (52nd) in 25:03 finished out the scoring for the USA, as the team finished 6th. Johnson (25:37) in 72nd place and Molovan (25:49) in 86th place rounded out things for the USA in junior competition in Edinburgh. As expected, Kenya claimed team gold with Ethiopia and Uganda earning silver and bronze.

Team Quotes:

Ben Johnson – “It was a hard course. I was hurting pretty bad at, like, only 2k or 3k and I was trying to hold on. I got out too slow, and then got stuck in no man’s land, and then people started to die from the hills. International competition is the same and different. It is the same as it is a race like any other race, and different in that it goes out fast and does not let up.”

German Fernandez – “My strategy was to move as a team, to try to help each other, and pick people off, one by one. It was pretty muddy, but thank God, I did not fall today. Not too many people get to compete internationally and I feel kind of special. Being here was a great experience for me and I am going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

Kevin Williams – “I think I ran well. German, Ryan and I ran together through like 4k or 5k; we were just trying to work with each other. I think it was just an awesome experience, hanging out with the older guys on the team.”

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