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Chelanga to Make Pro Debut in BAA 10K Sunday
Just two weeks removed from his final collegiate race for the Liberty Flames, Sam Chelanga will make his professional running debut. He is entered in the inaugural Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) 10K, to be contested Sunday morning on the streets of Boston.
Chelanga and his agent (1998 Liberty graduate Josh Cox) have certainly selected a most challenging debut race. The star-studded B.A.A. 10K field features the top three finishers from April's Boston Marathon—champion Geoffrey Mutai, runner-up Moses Mosop and third-place Gebre Gebremariam.
The race, which begins at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, includes a prize purse of $30,000. The male and female winners will each collect a $5,000 check.
Chelanga will hope to rekindle the magic from his final collegiate race, which saw him win the men's 5K title at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 11 in Des Moines, Iowa. The performance capped off a stellar collegiate career, which included four NCAA national championships and 14 All-America honors.
Three of those national titles came in the 10K, which has proven to be Chelanga's strongest racing distance thus far in his career. He also owns the NCAA all-time 10K record of 27:08.39.
The city of Boston holds special significance to Chelanga for numerous reasons. His older brother Joshua Chelanga took third place in the 2001 Boston Marathon, jumpstarting a successful career of marathon racing.
It was in Boston where Chelanga first met and interacted with former Liberty standout distance runner Josh McDougal, prior to the men's 5K final at the 2007 IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Most recently, Chelanga set the Liberty and Big South Conference indoor 3K record in Boston, clocking a 7:48.24 to place third at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Feb. 5.
Finally, on a more personal note, Boston is near Plymouth, Mass., the hometown of Chelanga's fiancée, former Liberty distance runner Marybeth Carlson.