2021 USA update

14 November, 2021 Tulsa and New York

Athletics fans in Kilkenny are always keen to know how their athletes are doing globally. Last week saw the Regional conferences take place across the USA. Racing for Tulsa were KCH’s Peter Lynch and Shay McEvoy. Tulsa who are ranked 10th nationally finished 3rd behind Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Oklahoma are ranked 3rd Nationally and Iowa 4th, thus making this one of the most competitive regional conferences across the USA.

The Tulsa men claimed six of the top 25 places, with Peter Lynch finishing in 13th place in a time of 30.31 earning him an All American. Shay McEvoy finished 21st in 30.49 a considerable improvement from last year. Shay has been running very well this year and joins Peter (now a Senior) for most of his training sessions. Joining them this year in Tulsa is Michael Power from West Waterford who finished in 17th place.

A little over two weeks ago the team gained qualification for the regionals when they had a convincing win at the American Athletic Conference Championships at Lakeland, Florida. On that occasion Peter Lynch finished 2nd and Shay McEvoy finished 5th.

With the top two teams from last week’s regionals going through as automatic qualifiers, Peter and Shay had to wait a tantalising 24 hours to learn if their team would be accepted for the NCAA on the basis of their 3rd placing in Iowa. The team was accepted as a result of an at-large-bid. An at-large-bid is the only other option to gain entry into the NCAA for a team that does not gain an automatic qualifying spot. After all the regionals have been run off, a selection committee convenes to decide which other teams were impressive enough to be invited to the NCAA. With Oklahoma State and Iowa State being ranked 3rd and 4th and Tulsa only a few points behind them in the Iowa meet, it was inevitable that they would get the first invite.

The NCAA championship is scheduled for Saturday, Nov 20th in Tallahassee, Florida. The men’s 10km will be held at 3pm Irish time. This is one day before the Irish National Championships are due to take place in Santry. The Irish Nationals are used as a trial for the impending European Cross Country, which will be held in Dublin on Sunday 12th December. While many USA based athletes will be flying home for the Santry event, those competing in the NCAA will be hoping that a good run at Tallahassee might impress the Irish selectors enough to gain selection onto the team. In 2019 both Peter and Shay qualified for the European Cross Country which was held in Portugal. Peter competed in the u23 event and Shay in the Junior event. With both athletes no longer eligible to compete in these categories, Peter will have to look towards Senior selection and Shay towards u23.

New York New York

Meanwhile in New York, Aoibhe Richardson is making her way into the American post college athletics world. Having graduated from the University of San Francisco this summer with a Master’s in Public Health, Aoibhe is no longer eligible to compete in the NCAA. This can be a difficult time for many former scholarship athletes. The structure of college and the scholarship fund leave you with four years to develop your athletic talent, worry free. Post college is a totally different affair. First athletes must find a means of support. Getting a job can mean lesser focus on athletics, while getting an athletics contract can often be almost impossible. Many Irish athletes end up returning to Ireland and trying to pick up their training regimes locally. Some do stay on in the USA and all too often can only do so with the financial support from home.

For Aoibhe Richardson, an offer to stay in American came from a rather unusual source. Mary Cain a former American athlete had set up a not for profit organisation called Atalanta. Based in New York elite athletes would train in the morning and in the afternoons work for the not for profit organisation. They would also be paid a salary. Aoife is now part of the Atalanta team and is being coached by Jon Green. Green is the coach to Molly Seidel, the American who finished 3rd in the Olympic Marathon in Tokyo.

Aoibe had suffered a hip injury shattering her NCAA track dreams earlier this year. After a 12-week layoff she finished 2nd in a 10km race in Minnesota. Last weekend she won the Abbot road race series in Central park in 16.35. Aoibhe will be back in Ireland racing the National Seniors next Sunday. She will be hoping to earn a spot on the Irish ladies’ team to compete in the Europeans in Dublin. With so many excellent performances from the Irish ladies in the past few months, places on that team will not be easy. For Aoibhe it will be the hardest test she has had since for two years.

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