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Kenyans dominate Clarksburg 10K

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

Kenya's Reuben Cheruiyot didn't panic. At the five-mile mark of Saturday's Greater Clarksburg 10K, Cheruiyot had the field right where he wanted -- in front of him.

With less than 500 meters left, Cheruiyot made his move and went around fellow countryman John Gwako to win the race with a time of 28:57.

"That's the way I like to run," Cheruiyot said. "I like to stay back and be tactical and then go forward. I knew I could go out in front at the end.

"I wasn't worried (about Gwako). When I'm out front, I feel like a pace (runner). I don't like to run in the front a lot."

In the front is where Cheruiyot has been a lot this summer. The 26-year-old has won six races this summer, including Saturday's 10K and the Peach Tree Classic on July 4 in Atlanta. Like Saturday, Cheruiyot won during the final stretch, making his move in the race's final leg.

Unlike Cheruiyot, Kenya's Naomi Wangui had little difficulty winning the women's division. Wangui dominated her field, winning with a time of 33:36. Wangui got out to an early lead and was never seriously threatened. Her closest competition came from the Netherlands' Wilma Van Onne, who was second at 34:15.

It was both Cheruiyot and Wangui's first appearance in the Greater Clarksburg 10K.

"I thought the course was very tough," Wangui said. "It was good that I won the race, because the course had a lot of hills and there were some good runners.

"I was not aware of where any of the (women runners) were. At first I had some other runners with me, but I started to open at the hill (on Main St.)."

Wangui, 22, said next week she plans on running in the Beach to Beacon outside of Portland, Maine. The win was Wangui's third of the season. She won the St. Louis 10K and the Crazy 8's 8K earlier this month. Both she and Cheruiyot said they would like the opportunity to return next year and defend their titles.

"I like the hills," Cheruiyot said. I'm used to that. I liked the course and I hope I can come back next year."

As in the past, Kenya dominated the men's field. Kenyan runners took four of the top five places, and seven of the top 10.

Gwako finished second in the men's division with a time of 29:00. Gwako also finished second in the 1998 Clarksburg 10K. Kenya' Lazarus Nyakeraka (29:02) and Ronald Mogaka (29:06) and Ethiopia's Nigussa Urge (29:11) rounded out the top five.

At 17, Kenya's Martha Komu finished third in the women's division at 34:32. Great Britain's Marian Sutton (34:51) was fourth and Carol Zajac-Tynan (35:00) of New Mexico was the top American women's finisher and completed the women's top five.

North Carolina's Jeff Campbell was the top American men's finisher. Campbell finished 11th overall with a time of 30:00. Jimmy Hearld of Kentucky (30:07) was 12th, while Phillimon Hanneck (30:15) of Oregon was 14th. In all, 635 runners completed the 6.2-mile course.

Morgantown's Heather Bury finished seventh and was the first West Virginian to cross the finish line. Nitro's Mikey Guinn finished 22nd overall. He was the highest finishing West Virginian in the men's competition.

Kenya's Andrew Masai was eighth overall and first in the Men's Masters division at 40 years of age.

"Actually I wasn't going to come and at the last moment I decided to," Masai said. "I'm glad I did. A lot of my friends were here and the people we've met have been very nice. They welcomed us."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444.

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