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Chelanga Named National XC Athlete of Year

November 24, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Sam Chelanga celebrates his second NCAA national cross country title in a row. (Photo Courtesy Jim Galen)

On the heels of his second consecutive NCAA Division I men's cross country national title, Liberty redshirt senior Sam Chelanga has been named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Male Athlete of the Year for the 2010 cross country season.

This is the second straight time Chelanga has earned this honor and the third time in the last four years a Liberty runner has been recognized. Josh McDougal captured the national award in 2007.

Chelanga, a native of Nairobi, Kenya, capped off an unbeaten cross country season on Monday, when he won the national title at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. His winning 10K time of 29:22.2 put him four seconds ahead of runner-up Stephen Sambu of Arizona.

Now a three-time NCAA Division I national champion and a 10-time All-American, Chelanga became the 10th runner in NCAA Division I men's cross country history to win back-to-back national championships. He is the first to do so since Wisconsin's Simon Bairu in 2004 and 2005.

Chelanga's final collegiate cross country season also included individual victories at the Brooks Paul Short Run, Pre-Nationals, Big South Championships and the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.

Chelanga was previously tabbed the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men's Athlete of the Year, after winning his third Southeast Regional title in a row. He also captured the Mid-Atlantic Regional crown in 2006, as a freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson.