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Chelanga Races to 10K National Championship
Day 2 Blog
Sam Chelanga Post-race Interview (Courtesy of Flotrack.org)
Liberty redshirt junior Sam Chelanga made history in Thursday night's final race at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, under the lights at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. He posted a dominating victory in the men's 10K final, becoming the Flames' first-ever men's track & field national champion.
Chelanga, whose winning time of 28:37.40 outdistanced runner-up John Kosgei of Oklahoma State by more than 18 seconds, is now an eight-time All-American and a two-time NCAA national champion. Chelanga, who previously captured the NCAA national cross country crown in November, is also Liberty's first outdoor track & field national champion in either gender.
Thanks to Chelanga's 10 team points, the Flames are tied for sixth place in the men's team standings with LSU and Brown, through five of 21 events.
"I really felt like that was an accomplishment," explained a smiling Chelanga. "It wasn't that easy, but it felt awesome!"
Chelanga was content to run with the pack for the first 2,000 meters, before breaking to the lead with a 66.4-second lap, his fastest circuit of the race. Only Oregon sophomore Luke Puskedra was willing to follow Chelanga, eliciting loud "Luke" cheers from the Hayward Field crowd, which numbered 11,172.
Chelanga's first mile after he took the lead was covered in a swift 4:27.16, and he quickly wore Puskedra down. By the race's halfway mark, which Chelanga reached in 14:22, his advantage was 10 seconds. The redshirt junior was never challenged the rest of the way, but Chelanga did not slack off his pace much.
"I try to give it all I can," he noted. "I don't go out there looking to jog."
Chelanga eventually built a 30-second lead over the chase pack by clicking off a long string of 68-second laps. He then relaxed a bit on the 25th and final lap, looking back over his left shoulder with 150 meters remaining. Realizing his substantial lead, Chelanga relished his long sought-after first track & field national title and basked in the adoration of the distance-loving crowd.
"This place is awesome," stated Chelanga. "The crowd was amazing and cheered for me a lot. That means a lot to me."
Redshirt junior Elliot Galeone made his NCAA national meet debut in Thursday evening's men's javelin competition. He battled a steady rain and headwind and was unable to get a legal throw off, fouling all three of his attempts.
Chelanga will come back for his second event at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the men's 5K final, Saturday at 2:21 p.m. Eastern. His race will be televised live on CBS, during the network's 1-3 p.m. coverage of the meet's final day.