Deena Drossin (USA) runs next to Britain's Paula Radcliffe in Dublin World Cross- 2002 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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USA women have golden World Cross aims in Lausanne

Defending women’s long course silver and bronze medallists Deena Drossin and Colleen De Reuck lead the US squad at next weekend's 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne-La Broye, Switzerland (29-30 March) aiming to move up a notch from last year's surprise silver medal team performance.

Drossin, who won her sixth national 8 km title last month in Houston, returns as the top medallist, and is among the favourites for the World long course championship. At the Gate River Run two weeks ago in Jacksonville, Florida, the 30 year-old Californian proved her fitness after winning her fourth straight national 15 km road title in 47:15, the second fastest performance ever. Drossin, whose first appearance at the World Cross Country Championships was as a junior in 1990, is aiming to become the first American to win the long course title since Lynn Jennings won her third straight race in Boston in 1992. Drossin was 12th in both the 2000 and 2001 races. In the former, she fell during the race after swallowing a bee.

The South African-born De Reuck, who finished just behind Drossin at the national championship, and third in the Gate River race, warmed up for last month's national championships with solid performances in European cross country races in January. She won the 5.5 km Cross Ouest-France in Le Mans
(19-Jan), after third place showings in the Belfast International (11 Jan) and the Cross Internacional de Zarnotza (05 Jan) in Spain. A three-time Olympian for South Africa, De Reuck will celebrate her 39th birthday next month.

These two returning medallists are joined by Milena Glusac and Elva Dryer, 23rd and 28th last year, Katie McGregor, and Sara Wells. The silver medal performance by the 8 km squad in Dublin last year was the best by an American team since 1992, while Drossin and De Reuck's 2-3 finish was the strongest individual finish since 1970.

The men's long course team is led by veterans Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman, fourteenth and eleventh last year, who guided the 2001 squad to a bronze medal finish at Ostend, and fifth in Dublin.

Keflezighi, who won his second 12 km national cross country title in Houston, arrives in Lausanne on the back of his commanding 43:31 win in the 15 km championship, where he outdistanced the 26 year-old Abdirahman by nearly 30 seconds. Joining "Meb" and Abdirahman, are collegian Edwardo Torres, third in Houston's national championship; Nick Rogers, fourth in Houston and a member of the 2001 team; Chad Johnson and David Cullum. Johnson and Cullum will make their first appearances in a World Cross Country Championship.

National championships runner-up Dan Wilson, who finished third in last weekend's Rás na hÉireann cross country run in Ireland, leads the men's short course squad. Joining Wilson is Collegian Luke Watson, a recent addition to the sub-4 mile club, who was third in the mile and 11th in the 3000m at last weekend's NCAA indoor championships; 2002 US Marathon champion Dan Browne; steeplechaser-turned-miler Ian Connor; Sandu Rebenciuc and Karl Savage. The 4 km team finished fifth last year, and fourth in Ostend.

The women's short course team, fifth last year and tenth in 2001, is a blend of experience and youth, led by veterans Collette Liss and Amy Rudolph. Liss, who finished second in February's national championship, was a member of the US team at the World Indoor Championhips in Birmingham, while Rudolph, who was 31st in last year's long course race, divided her winter between track and cross country this year. A two-time Olympian, Rudolph was ninth in the short course race at the 1998 World Championships.

The Junior squads are led by Bill Nelson of the University of Colorado, and Duke University's Clara Horowitz. Nelson was a member of last year's team in Dublin, which finished seventh. The women's squad was fifth last year after an 11th place showing in 2001.

National long course champion Alan Culpepper, and his wife Shayne, this year's women's short course champion, have opted not to compete in Lausanne. Short course champion Robert Gary, a coach at Ohio State University, also will not compete.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

USA team for Lausanne -

Senior Men 12 km -
Abdi Abdirahman, Tucson, Ariz.
David Cullum, Cupertino, Calif.
Chad Johnson, Portland, Ore.
Meb Keflezighi, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Nick Rogers, Eugene, Ore.
Edwardo Torres, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.

Senior Men 4 km -
Dan Browne, Portland, Ore.
Ian Connor, Columbus, Ohio
Sandu Rebenciuc, Lafayette, Colo.
Karl Savage, Lenoir, N.C.
Luke Watson, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
Dan Wilson, Lenoir, N.C.

Junior Men 8 km -
Brett Goucher, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
James Hower, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Tim Moore, University. of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
Bill Nelson, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
Bret Schoolmeester, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo. Andrew Weilacher, Flagstaff, Ariz.

Senior Women 8 km -
Colleen De Reuck, Boulder, Colo.
Deena Drossin, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Elva Dryer, Albuquerque, N.M.
Milena Glusac, Fallbrook, Calif.
Kathryn McGregor, Minneapolis, Minn.
Sara Wells, Edina, Minn.

Senior Women 4 km -
Molly Austin, Boulder, Colo.
Ann Marie Brooks, Boulder, Colo.
Collette Liss, Indianapolis, Ind.
Amy Rudolph, Providence, R.I.
Heather Sagan, Lynchburg, Va.
Sarah Toland, Boulder, Colo.

Junior Women 6 km -
Amy Hastings, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
Laura Hodgson, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
Angela Homan, Auburn University,  Auburn, Ala.
Clara Horowitz, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
Julia Lucas, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. Rebecca Walter, University of Michigan,  Ann Arbor, Mich