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Chelanga Recognized by ECAC, Big South

October 22, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Sam Chelanga has already captured quite a bit of hardware during his first cross country season at Liberty. (Photo by David Bracetty)

Sam Chelanga has already captured quite a bit of hardware during his first cross country season at Liberty. (Photo by David Bracetty)

After a dominating individual performance at last Saturday's Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., Liberty redshirt sophomore Sam Chelanga has won a pair of weekly awards. He is the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week for the third time this season, and also picked up his second Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week honor.

Chelanga (Nairobi, Kenya) raced out to a 4:18 opening mile and never looked back, Saturday afternoon at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. He finished the 8K course in 22:51.3, winning the men's 8K white race by 44 seconds and posting the fastest time of the day's three races by 39 seconds.

The clocking enabled Chelanga to break the course, meet, Liberty and Big South 8K records, all of which had previously belonged to former Liberty standout Josh McDougal, the 2007 NCAA National Cross Country Champion. McDougal ran 22:56.4 to win the men's 8K white race at the 2007 Pre-Nationals to establish all four standards.

Chelanga, now considered by many to be a contender for the NCAA individual title, broke his second course record in as many races. On Oct. 3, Chelanga shattered the Lehigh course record with a 23:05 8K at the Brooks Paul Short Run.

The Liberty men's cross country team, ranked No. 8 in the Southeast Region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), has claimed four of the eight Big South Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week honors this season. In addition to Chelanga's trio of awards (Sept. 10, Oct. 8 and 22), Jordan McDougal (R-Sr., Peru, N.Y.) was recognized on Sept. 24.

Chelanga and the Flames will be off competition this weekend. They will be back in action on Nov. 1, when Liberty hosts the New Balance Cross Country Championships presented by UCS for the first time in program history. The Flames will be seeking their fourth straight Big South title in the men's 8K championship, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The women's race will follow at 11:30, at the Campus East intramural fields.