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RRCA Announces 2011 Roads Scholar Class

Six up-and-coming athletes will receive training grants.

Photo: Running USA

Six up-and-coming athletes will receive training grants.

From: Running USA

ARLINGTON, Va. — Since 1996, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) has awarded grants totaling over $360,000 through the Roads Scholar® program. The goal of the program is to assist American post-collegiate runners who show great promise to develop into national and world class road running athletes. The grants ($5000 per athlete) awarded by the RRCA go directly to the athletes to help support their goals of becoming world class distance runners. Deena Kastor (nee Drossin), the 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, was a 1997 grant recipient.

The RRCA introduces and congratulates the 2011-12 Class of Roads Scholars.

Tyler McCandless

McCandless graduated from Northampton High School where he was a District 11 Champion and record holder in the 3200 meter run with a time of 9:13.01, as well as a PIAA State Medalist in cross country and track and field. After graduating, McCandless ran one year for the University of Maryland before transferring to Penn State University. At Penn State, he flourished under Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, steadily progressing to a 29:15 personal best in the 10,000 meters and an All-American performance in that event in the spring of 2010.

McCandless quickly showed promise as a professional road racer with a 46:04 performance at the Utica Boilermaker 15K, claiming top American honors. He was also the top American finisher at the Buffalo Subaru Chase 4-Miler, and he won the San Francisco Half Marathon and set a course record with a time of 1:05:02. In his debut marathon, McCandless finished 6th at the 2010 California International Marathon in 2:17:22, qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon.

In 2011, he ran 1:05:38 at the USA Half Marathon Championships and 45:17 at the USA 15K Championships. He also won and broke the course record in Denver, Colorado at the 2011 RRCA Colorado State Championships 10 mile in a time of 52:08 at 5,280 ft elevation. He finished 8th overall and top American at the 2011 Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with a time of 1:05:09 and followed that with a 2:17:09 marathon personal best at Grandma’s Marathon to finish 11th overall. McCandless, 24, is coached by Brad Hudson and is sponsored by Mizuno and Honey Milk.

“It is a great honor to be chosen as a 2011 RRCA Roads Scholar, and I am very proud to follow in the footsteps of many great athletes who have been previously awarded this prestigious scholarship,” he said. “I am very thankful to the RRCA and all of the donors who make this award possible. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing support system of family and friends that make professional running not only possible, but a dream come true.”

Megan Duwell

Duwell is a 2005 graduate of West Bend West High School in West Bend, Wisconsin, where she was class valedictorian and won Wisconsin Division I state titles in the 800 meters as a sophomore and junior. She ran for the University of Minnesota where she graduated from the Carlson School of Management in May 2010. Duwell finished her running career at the University of Minnesota as a three-time All-American and a two-time Individual Big Ten Conference champion. She steadily progressed and improved throughout her collegiate career, leaving the University of Minnesota as a school record holder in four events.

Duwell, 24, is currently a member of Team USA Arizona, adidas-McMillan Elite located in Flagstaff, Arizona. Since joining Team USA Arizona, Duwell has achieved several top-10 finishes including the USA 10K Championship (7th), the USA Cross Country Championship (9th) and the Manchester Road Race (10th). She was a member of the winning team at the Club Cross Championship with fellow adidas-McMillan Elite runners. Her 9th place individual finish at the USA Cross Championships in San Diego to earned her a spot to race at the NACAC Cross Country Meet in Trinidad in February 2011. Duwell won silver in the women’s 6K to lead Team USA women to the team gold medal.

“I couldn’t be more honored to be a recipient of the 2011-12 Roads Scholar grant,” Duwell said. “This grant will enable me to follow my dreams on adidas-McMillan Elite and Team USA Arizona. It is grants such as these that make it possible for developing professional runners to fully focus on achieving their running goals as a career- thanks for making that happen.”

Lex Williams

Williams started running at a young age through the Hershey Track and Field program, progressed through the Ann Arbor Track Club, and ran for his middle school and high school cross country and track teams in Dexter, MI. As a freshman at Dexter High School, his cross country team made the first ever appearance as a team at the Division 2 State Championship and placed sixth. In his senior year in track, Williams won the state meet in the 2 mile, was runner-up in the mile, and was elected “Mr. Michigan Track and Field” for the state of Michigan. Also as a senior he placed third at the Nike Indoor Nationals in the mile and placed 4th at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in the 2 mile in 8:56.

Williams attended the University of Michigan where he trained under the guidance of coach Ron Warhurst. He became a Big-Ten Champion, All-American, Academic All-American and team captain in his years at UM. His collegiate personal bests included 3:42.38 for 1500m, 4:01.72 for the mile, 7:55.59 for 3000m, 13:47.57 for 5000m and 28:34.28 for 10,000m. At Michigan Williams met his current coach, Tim Broe, who was a volunteer assistant for the team. Williams now trains with Broe at In The Arena based in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Williams, 24, made his professional road racing debut at the USA 8K Championships in Carmel, Indiana, placing 8th overall. He followed that up a week later with a 7th place finish at the Steamboat Classic in Peoria, Illinois.

“I am very grateful for my selection to the 2011 class of RRCA Roads Scholars,” Williams said. “This prestigious grant is extremely helpful in supporting young post-collegiate runners like myself and will help immensely while at the beginning of my professional career. I am truly humbled to have been selected as a recipient, look forward to representing the RRCA, and spreading the word about the opportunity you have bestowed upon me as I continue to chase my dream.”

Meghan Armstrong

Armstrong Peyton went to high school in Tualatin, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, where she was a six-time State champion in the 1500m and 3000m. She also competed in track and cross country at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Armstrong was a four-time All American and was the 2008 Big Ten Champion in both the indoor 3000 meters and the outdoor 10,000 meters. She also holds the Iowa school record in the 1500 meters (4:17.41) and was a two-time All American in the mile with a best of 4:40.59. Additional collegiate achievements include a best of 33:28.00 in the 10,000 meters and a sixth place finish in the 10,000 at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

After graduating in the spring of 2008, Meghan was selected to be a member of the NACAC Track & Field Under-23 Team, which competed in Mexico. At NACAC, she finished first in the 10,000. She joined Team USA Minnesota in September 2008. In 2009, Meghan competed at the USA Half Marathon Championships, the USA Cross Country Championships, and the USA 15K Championships. Her outdoor track season included personal bests of 15:41.09 in the 5,000m and 33:26.75 in the 10,000.

At the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships, Meghan finished 11th with a personal best of 1:13:56. She also won the ING Miami Half Marathon. She also placed 4th in the USA 5K and 10 Mile Championships and was a member of the Chiba Ekiden team. In 2011, Armstrong Peyton, 25, was 5th in the USA 15K Championships.

“I want to extend a most heart-felt thank you to the RRCA,” Armstrong Peyton said. “To know that there are people and groups like the RRCA out there to support me and other athletes like myself is truly amazing. This grant will help me to continue to strive to reach my dream of being one of our nation’s best athletes. This support will also allow me to give back to the running community by being my best every time I toe the line, which will in turn, I hope, allow our entire sport to advance…helping us all become stronger and faster.”

Bobby Mack

Mack, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, currently lives and trains in Raleigh. He attended North Carolina State University where he ran cross country and track for Coach Rollie Geiger’s Wolfpack. An all ACC and All-American Cross Country runner, Mack set the pace for the Wolfpack leading the team to an ACC title in 2004. After a couple seasons of injuries Mack returned to top form and led the team to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2008.

Mack has continued working with the NC State team as a volunteer coach. He launched his professional running career by making the World Cross Country team and representing the USA in Poland at the 2010 World Cross Country Championships.

The 2011 season saw him drop his 10K time to 28:11 and earn his first national road racing title at the USA 8K Championships in Carmel, Indiana. Other top national finishes include first American finisher and 5th overall in the 2011 Cooper River Bridge run in Charleston, South Carolina, along with a 7th place finish at the USA 10K Road National Championships at the 2010 Peachtree Road Race. Mack, 26, currently races and works for a local running shop, The Athlete’s Foot Cameron Village in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“It is very motivating to receive the Roads Scholar grant,” Mack said. “As I continue to train and compete at the highest level possible, I want to thank the Road Runners Club of America along with their donors for helping me pursue my goals and staying active in my local running community.”

Megan Hogan

Hogan was a high school and college basketball star who left the basketball team at Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass., to transfer to George Washington University after her sophomore year. It was at GW that she launched a collegiate running career even though the school did not offer women’s track.

During her final year of collegiate eligibility in 2010, Megan posted a time of 32:34 in the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational. She finished 6th in the 10,000 at the USA Outdoor Championships, was the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Conference Champion for the second year in a row, and finished 8th overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. While at GW, Megan received the Atlantic 10 women’s Cross Country Performer of the Year Award as well as the Atlantic 10 Student Athlete of the Year Award. Her coach named her one of the most accomplished student-athletes in the history of GW athletics. She was also a two-time All-American in cross country.

Megan, 23, made her professional road racing debut at the 2011 USA 15K Championships in March, where she finished third. On the track, she posted a 40-second PR in the 5,000m at the Mt. SAC Relays with a time of 15:29.12. She joined Team USA Minnesota in 2011. She ran a personal best 5K of 15:29 and came in 5th in the Freihofer’s Run for Women.

“I am very excited and honored to have received the Road Scholars grant, and I look forward to successful performances in upcoming road races,” Hogan said.

The RRCA Roads Scholar® selection Committee for 2011 included Carl Sniffen (Chair), Mike Morgan (former Roads Scholar recipient), Joan Benoit Samuelson (Olympic gold medalist), Don Kardong (Olympian), Phil Stewart, Bee McLeod, Brent Ayer and Jean Knaack.