Chelanga breaks own NCAA record

California may be 10,000 miles and 10 time zones away from Sam Chelanga’s native Kenya, but he certainly feels at home in the Golden State. The redshirt junior shattered his own NCAA 10K record at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University, trimming 20 seconds off last year’s record set at the Brutus Invitational in Berkeley, Calif.

Chelanga’s 27:08.39 time was the third fastest in the world this year. The record-breaking run was even more unlikely considering Chelanga’s effort was his first of the outdoor track season. Chelanga was rehabbing a foot injury and had not raced since March 12 before his electrifying debut.

“I’m really excited, I didn’t come here for that. I had a problem with my foot so I was just coming here to get a good opening,” Chelanga told

The seven-time All-American  highlighted a field of the nation’s best, including Olympian and former Oregon star Galen Rupp. Rupp, who managed to get the best of Chelanga more than once a year ago, cruised past the American record but still finished fourth. The field was paced by Chris Solinsky, a five-time NCAA champion at Wisconsin who ran a blistering 26:59.60, a new American record.

The star-studded field was designed to give Solinsky a chance to make a run at the record. For Chelanga, the race gave him another crack at Rupp. Despite almost no training over the past few weeks, he chased Rupp down on the final lap, posting a 60 second split to earn his first head-to-head victory against Rupp.

“My foot wasn’t doing anything, so I was like, you know what, I think I have a chance,” Chelanga told

Photo by Wesley Hitt, Arkansas Athletic Media Relations

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