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XTERRA South Central Championships Preview

McQuaid seeking second consecutive win, Stoltz looking to defend.

Victoria’s Melanie McQuaid won last weekend at the XTERRA West Championships, and she will be looking to add another win to her collection this Sunday at the XTERRA South Central Championships in Waco, Texas.

McQuaid’s will face stiff competition from reigning XTERRA World Champion Shonny Vanlandingham, who finished second to McQuaid last week, and fellow Canadian Christine Jeffrey from Guelph, Ontario.

Stoltz is the heavy favorite to defend his title – the second of six regional championships in the U.S. Pro Series.

“This is one of the most technical of all the courses. It has short climbs and requires a lot of power so it suits me really well,” said Stoltz at today’s pre-race press briefing. “What makes this year even more exciting is the weather. Last year we had the heat,¬† and I didn’t enjoy the race as much as I should have because it was so hot. This year the weather is perfect, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Indeed, this year’s race is a full month earlier in the season than last year’s race date and the weather in Waco has been beautiful – nice and cool in the mornings with highs in the low 80s in the afternoon.

While Stoltz may be the favorite, nobody in the pro field is ready to concede the race just yet. The competition Stoltz will be up against in Waco is as good as it gets in the U.S., with nine of the top 10 racers in last year’s XTERRA U.S. Pro Series and the top four finishers from last weekend’s XTERRA West Championship on the start list.

Heading the contenders list is America’s best hope, Josiah Middaugh from Vail, Colorado.¬† Middaugh, who ran past Stoltz on a grueling climb to win the West Champs on Sunday, will be the first guy not named Stoltz to wear No. 1 on his bike plate at a U.S. Championship event since 2006. That’s because Stoltz had won the previous four season-openers and stayed ranked No. 1 en route to winning the last four Series titles.

Middaugh came out of a long winter – in which he won the USAT Winter Triathlon National Championship and North American Snowshoe Championship – in great shape and posted the fastest run in Vegas. Last year he did this race on very little rest with a 10-day old girl at home. Still, he had the fastest run and finished second, about three minutes behind Stoltz.

Frenchman Nico Lebrun, the 2005 World Champ, was third here last year and is well conditioned for the rigorous climbing on the bike and run sections of this course. And for all those who fear the speedo, watch out for Tennessee’s Craig Evans who rocked a black speedo into fourth place last year and had the fastest swim split.

SOUTH CENTRAL CHAMPIONSHIP PRO START LIST

Rank = Position in 2011 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series after first race of season – XTERRA West Championship in Nevada last Sunday. NR = Not ranked.

Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Josiah Middaugh – 32, Vail, Colorado
2 – Conrad Stoltz – 37, Stellenbosch, South Africa
3 – Branden Rakita – 30, Manitou Springs, Colorado
4 Р Nicolas Lebrun -38, Digne, France
7 – Seth Wealing – 32, Boulder, Colorado
8 – Trevor Glavin – 31, San Diego, California
9 – Cody Waite – 32, Lakewood, Colorado
11 – Craig Evans – 33, Hendersonville, Tennessee
12 – Shiloh Mielke – 31, Durango, Colorado
13 – Adam Wirth – 32, Boise, Idaho
19 – Will Kelsay – 29, Boulder, Colorado
20 – Patrick Valentine – 25, Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 – Damian Gonzalez – 34, Stockton, California
NR – Jimmy Archer – 38, Boulder, Colorado
NR – Matt Boobar – 38, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
NR – William Ross – 21, Anchorage, Alaska

Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
61 – Melanie McQuaid – 37, Victoria, B.C., Canada
62 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 41, Durango, Colorado
63 – Christine Jeffrey – 38, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
66 – Emma Garrard – 29, Park City, Utah
67 – Suzie Snyder – 29, Fredericksburg, Virginia
68 – Jessica Noyola – 28, San Diego, California
70 – Tracy Thelen – 31, Colorado Springs, CO
NR – Caroline Colonna – 46, Taos, New Mexico