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Chelanga Named Regional Athlete of the Year

June 8, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga celebrates after breaking the NCAA 10K record on April 24.

Sam Chelanga celebrates after breaking the NCAA 10K record on April 24.

Liberty redshirt sophomore Sam Chelanga, currently preparing for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, picked up a piece of hardware this afternoon. He was tabbed the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA) Southeast Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year.

Chelanga (Nairobi, Kenya), who was also recognized as the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year this past fall, has not lost to a collegiate runner during the current outdoor track campaign. His most impressive performance so far this season came April 24 at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley, Calif. That evening, Chelanga won the 10K in a NCAA-record time of 27:28.48, defeating five Olympians in the process.

Chelanga took down five more Olympians just eight days later, when he clocked a 5K time of 13:28.31 to finish third at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif. That effort ranks No. 2 nationally in 2009.

The redshirt sophomore was also a key contributor to the Flames' third straight Big South title, winning the 1,500 and 5K finals. His 5K time, 14:01.89, broke former Liberty standout Josh McDougal's meet record. Chelanga claimed the 5K championship at the IC4A meet as well, cruising to victory by eight seconds.

Chelanga, a four-time All-American, will compete in the men's 10K final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, being contested this week at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. Chelanga's race is scheduled for Thursday at 10:45 p.m. Eastern.