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Chelanga, Klugh Star at Brooks Paul Short Run
Men's Gold Race Highlights (Courtesy of Flotrack.org)
Women's Gold Race Highlights (Courtesy of Flotrack.org)
Sam Chelanga Interview (Courtesy of Flotrack.org)
Evans Kigen Interview (Courtesy of Flotrack.org)
Sam Chelanga cruised to victory in his 2010 cross country season debut, while Jennifer Klugh broke the Liberty women's 6K school record, Friday at the Brooks Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa.
Chelanga, the defending NCAA national champion, won the men's gold 8K title by 15 seconds, with a winning time of 23:34 on the saturated course. His effort helped Liberty place eighth out of 42 teams with 308 points. No. 22 Virginia won the men's team title with a score of 132, putting the Cavaliers 17 points in front of Georgetown.
On the women's side, Klugh's record time of 20:58 trimmed nine seconds off of the previous school standard, Piper Newby's 21:07.7 at the 2007 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships in Louisville, Ky.
Klugh's performance helped the Lady Flames place 13th of 41 teams in the women's gold race, a seven-place improvement from the 2008 Brooks Paul Short Run, with 411 points. The No. 6 Georgetown Hoyas took home the team title with an impressive performance, claiming a 34-98 victory over No. 12 Virginia.
Men's Meet Recap
Chelanga took control of the men's race from the get-go, opening up a seven-second advantage at the mile mark with a 4:38 split. From there, the redshirt senior was never challenged and claimed his second Brooks Paul Short Run title in three years. Chelanga also took the 2008 championship, in a course-record time of 23:05 on a much drier surface.
The fastest 8K clocking of Evans Kigen's career, a 24:09, netted 11th place in the field of 387 runners, giving Liberty a very strong 1-2 punch from its two returning All-Americans.
Fellow redshirt senior Josh Edmonds moved up through the pack after a 5:03 first mile, ending up 53rd with a 24:54 effort. Jake Reed came in just 13 seconds after Edmonds, with a personal-best 25:07 clocking for 86th place. David Ricksecker completed Liberty's top five with a personal-best effort of his own. He came in 163rd overall in 25:33.
Freshman Josh MacDonald posted a 25:35 in his collegiate 8K debut, netting 169th place. Meanwhile, Mark Hopely was the Flames' No. 7 runner, coming in 242nd with a 26:07.
Women's Meet Recap
Not only was Klugh the first Lady Flame ever to crack the 21:00 barrier in a 6K cross country race, but Dacia Bushman and Hailey Neal joined her to comprise the first Liberty trio ever to run sub-21:30 in the same race. They also made the Lady Flames one of only seven teams to put three runners in the top 50 on Friday.
Klugh's 20:58 effort was a major improvement over her previous 6K personal best of 22:07.1 and placed the redshirt sophomore 18th out of 367 women's runners. The Buckeye State native started rather conservatively, with a 5:41 first mile, but passed nearly 50 runners during the remainder of the race.
Bushman clocked a 21:17, cutting 22 seconds off of her previous best. The third-fastest 6K time in program history claimed 27th place overall. Neal's 21:27 clocking was perhaps the most surprising of the day, as the senior took 45th place. The time was a personal best by more than a minute and a half for Neal and marked the sixth-fastest 6K effort in Liberty history.
Sophomore Khristina Kanagy and senior Rod'Esther Castor continued the Lady Flames' string of personal-best efforts, closing out the team's top five. Kanagy posted a 22:41 for 160th place, while Castor's 22:50 claimed the 183rd position.
Freshman Katie Russo, racing at the 6K distance for the first time, ended up 225th in 23:13. Meanwhile, junior Denise Troyer came in 238th at 23:20, serving as the Lady Flames' No. 7 finisher.
Liberty's next meet will be Pre-Nationals, slated for Oct. 16 in Terre Haute, Ind. The meet will be contested at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, the site of the 2010 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The first of the day's six races will begin at 11 a.m.