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Chelanga, Klugh Claim Big South Honors
For the second time in the last three weeks, Liberty's Sam Chelanga and Jennifer Klugh have swept the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Men's and Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week awards.
Chelanga and Klugh, who both starred at Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday, previously swept the conference's weekly honors on Oct. 6. Additionally, Liberty seniors Evans Kigen and Hailey Neal were tabbed Big South Men's and Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week on Sept. 22.
Chelanga, who owns both the 8K and 10K course records at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, raced out to an early lead in the men's 8K white race. The redshirt senior clocked a 4:23 opening mile and went on to post a 12-second victory with a winning time of 23:19.9. It was Chelanga's second career Pre-Nationals title, and helped Liberty post its highest-ever team finish at the prestigious meet, 10th place.
Chelanga has now won both of his races in 2010, after previously crossing the finish line first at the Brooks Paul Short Run on Oct. 1. His title also gave Liberty five individual Pre-Nationals championships in the past six years. In addition to Chelanga's two victories, Josh McDougal claimed Pre-Nationals crowns in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Meanwhile, Klugh finished 36th in the women's 6K blue race, which featured 10 nationally-ranked squads. Her time (21:01.6) was the fastest performance ever by a Lady Flame in Terre Haute, bettering Piper Newby's 21:22.5 clocking from the 2007 Pre-Nationals. Klugh's effort was also the second-fastest 6K in program history, trailing only her school-record 20:58 effort at the Brooks Paul Short Run on Oct. 1.
Liberty's next meet will be the Big South Cross Country Championships, Oct. 30 at Blacksburg Middle School in Blacksburg, Va. The Lady Flames, seeking their fourth Big South title in the last five years, will get things started with the women's 5K championship at 10:30 a.m. The men's 8K race will follow at 11:30 a.m., as the Flames attempt to win their sixth consecutive Big South championship.