The performance marks Huddle's fifth USATF 5K championship title. The Olympic finalist also owns the American record in the road 5K after running 14:50 at the BAA race in 2015.
Huddle assumed the lead early on and led the top pack of runners until she broke away right before entering Central Park. Although her 11-second margin of victory over runner-up Molly Seidel was significant, Huddle said she never underestimated the depth of the U.S. field, which included 800m world silver medalist Brenda Martinez, four-time NCAA champion Seidel, breakout star Natosha Rogers, and marathon sensation Desi Linden.
"It's always hard, you have to be engaged and you can't let up. You have to watch where people like Brenda are at the finish and people like Molly Seidel who are so strong right now and Natosha Rogers. That's what I'm thinking of in every race," Huddle told reporters.
"There's always people to watch out for….I'm always on my toes and it's something that I'm proud of to pull off afterwards. I never take it for granted."
For Seidel, the performance marks her first podium finish at a senior USATF Championship. Rogers followed Seidel for the third and final podium spot when she crossed the finish line in 15:39. Saturday's race marks her second U.S. podium finish this year after she won the national half marathon championships in April.
The men's race was more of a tactical battle between a stacked group of competitors. In a field that included Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo, Olympic finalists Lenny Korir, Kipchirchir, and Hassan Mead, and U.S. road 5K record holder Ben True, the men's race was surprisingly determined by a kick in the final 100-meter stretch.
Knowing the depth and the speed of the field, Kipchirchir knew what he had to do.
"I had to be really, really patient... I mean, I'm a 10K guy but I'm also a good 5K guy, but I haven't had a chance to run a fast 5K. In training, I know I have it, but it was a matter of putting it together, the endurance and the speed. So I respect them, but I just came here to win," he said.
The first mile of the race was led by NAZ Elite standout Crag Lutz who split 4:36. What followed was a steady pace with everyone in contention through two miles in 9:12. By the time the pack entered Central Park, Curtin, Mead, True, and U.S. Army teammates Kipchirchir, Chelimo and Korir started to pull away.
An uphill battle ensued as the pack entered the final stretch down West Drive where Kipchirchir ultimately pulled away from the favorites to win the U.S. crown. Behind the Army standout, who crossed in 13:57, Curtin followed close behind for second in 13:58 and Erassa claimed third in 13:58.1. Chelimo barely missed the podium when he crossed the finish line in fourth-place.