INDIANAPOLIS – Dathan Ritzenhein has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after winning the men’s race Sunday at the 2004 Reebok Cross Country Challenge in Belfast, Ireland.
A 2004 Olympian, Ritzenhein (Boulder, Colo.) held an 18-second lead over the field with 1,800 meters to go before roaring to the finish in 29 minutes, 26 seconds over Kenyans Ernest Meil (2nd, 29:34) and Barnabas Kosgei (3rd, 29:35).
The 2003 NCAA cross country champion and 2001 World Cross Country Championships junior men’s bronze medalist, Ritzenhein will open his U.S. indoor season January 29 in the 3,000 meters at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Boston.
In another notable performance, Mary Saxer (Lancaster, N.Y.), became the first U.S., high school girl ever to clear 14 feet in the pole vault Saturday at the Dartmouth Relays. Saxer raised the National High School girl’s record to 4.15m/13-7.25 earlier in the competition, before her barrier-breaking clearance on her second attempt at 4.27m/14-0.
Now in its fifth year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2005 USATF Athlete of the Week Winners: January 4, Amy Rudolph; January 11, Dathan Ritzenhein.