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Chelanga Takes 7th in USATF Men's 10K Final
2011 Liberty graduate Sam Chelanga led throughout most of the senior men's 10K final before ultimately finishing seventh on a scorching opening day of the 2017 USATF Junior and Senior Outdoor Championships. Meanwhile, current Liberty freshman Markus Ballengee sits in sixth place in the junior decathlon standings through Thursday's five events at Hornet Stadium, where the thermometer reached triple digits.
Chelanga crossed the finish line in 29:08.29, leaving him 5.65 seconds and four places away from qualifying for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.
Team USA will consist of Thursday night's top three finishers, including champion Hassan Mead (29:01.44) and two of Chelanga's training partners, Shadrack Kipchirchir (second place, 29:01.68) and Leonard Korir (third place, 29:02.64). Notably, eight-time defending U.S. men's 10K champion Galen Rupp placed just fifth in 29:04.61.
After the 24 participants crawled through the first 2,000 meters in 6:30, Chelanga took over the pacing duties. He led the pack for the next four miles, speeding up the pace and surging away from the other runners on numerous occasions.
Chelanga's efforts were successful in whittling the lead pack down to eight runners with one mile remaining. The four-time NCAA Division I national champion for the Flames clocked 4:15.45 for the last four laps, including 60.06 seconds for the 25th and final circuit. However, he could not hold off the other fast finishers.
Ballengee totaled 3,491 points during the first day of the junior decathlon competition, putting him sixth out of the 11 entrants. Texas freshman George Patrick (4,113 points) and Germantown Academy (Pa.) junior Kyle Garland (3,819) own the top two spots at the halfway mark. The decathlon champion and runner-up will earn the right to compete for Team USA at the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships.
Ballengee got off to a slow start, residing in 11th place after an 11.63 clocking for the 100 and a 20-5.25 long jump.
The Commonwealth native then recorded the fifth-best shot put mark of the competition (42-4.75), setting the stage for his best event of day one.
Ballengee high jumped 6-6, marking his best effort of the outdoor season and equaling his lifetime-best clearance. It also matched Arkansas State's Luke Hampton for the best clearance among the decathletes on the day.
Ballengee closed out his afternoon with a time of 52.98 in the 400, keeping himself within 328 points of a coveted top-two finish at this stage of the competition.
Ballengee will begin day two of the decathlon competition Friday at 12:45 p.m. Eastern with the 110 hurdles.