Liberty's Chelanga Wins USTFCCCA Southeast Region Award

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LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty redshirt junior Sam Chelanga has only run four races this season, but that’s all it took to earn the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Southeast Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive year. The honor, announced today, was voted upon by the region’s track & field coaches.

Chelanga is now a five-time USTFCCCA Region Athlete of the Year during his career. In addition to his pair of outdoor track laurels, the Nairobi, Kenya native has captured the regional award three times in cross country (2006, 2008 and 2009).

Chelanga did not compete outdoors until May 1, after being hampered by a foot injury during the early stages of the campaign. When he finally opened his season, he did so in impressive fashion, shaving 20 seconds off of his own NCAA 10K record. Chelanga’s new record time of 27:08.39 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif., ranks as the third-fastest 10K effort in the world in 2010. It is also more than a minute faster than any other collegiate runner has clocked in the 10K this season.

The redshirt junior’s next race was his second straight victory in the IC4A 5K final, May 14 in Princeton, N.J. Most recently, Chelanga became one of only three runners in the nation to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in both the 5K and 10K, by virtue of his efforts at the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet last weekend in Greensboro, N.C. His times (13:52.49 for the 5K and 29:27.20 for the 10K) were the fastest qualifying performances at either NCAA Division I Preliminary Round venue.

Chelanga, a seven-time All-American, will have two chances to win his first-ever national title on the track, at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. He will run the 10K Thursday at 10:25 p.m. Eastern, and then come back for the 5K June 12 at 2:21 p.m., live on CBS.