Running with a purpose

Liberty freshman cross-country runner enjoying instant success with Flames

In college sports, it is unusual for a freshman to step into a program and contribute heavily from day one. It is even more unusual for a freshman to win awards for their accomplishments from day one.

Excellence — Born and raised in Kenya, Azaria Kirwa strives to stand out in whatever he does. Photo credit: Joel Coleman

Excellence — Born and raised in Kenya, Azaria Kirwa strives to stand out in whatever he does. Photo credit: Joel Coleman

For Liberty Flames freshman cross-country runner Azaria Kirwa, he has managed to accomplish both of those feats.

In his very first event — the UVA Duals Men’s 4K — Kirwa led for several stretches of the race. He finished second out of the 28 runners competing in the event, which was especially impressive considering it was his first ever collegiate competition.

Kirwa’s journey to Liberty’s cross country team is particularly notable. He was born and raised in Eldoret, Kenya, where he lived until he came to America to attend Liberty.

“Growing up in Kenya, I just grew up like a normal child,” Kirwa said. “I went through primary school, then high school, then I had to look for a college. I was searching for a college so I had to continue what I loved doing: running for fun and for fitness. Then this chance came of a scholarship so I had to train for it. I tried and I did well so God brought me here to Liberty.”

After graduating from Uasin Gishu High School in Kenya, Kirwa knew what he was looking for in a college. For Kirwa, receiving a scholarship to Liberty was one of the things that made the school an easy choice, but it was not the most important.

“It’s a Christian school,” Kirwa said. “That’s why I came over.”

Kirwa’s faith resonates in every aspect of his life. His faith is especially evident in his prioritizing of his goals for his time here at Liberty.

“The first thing actually is to have a good relationship with God,” Kirwa said. “Then secondly of course to do well in my pre-med major. Thirdly, is to do well in my athletics.”

David Cheromei, Kirwa’s coach, also hails from Eldoret, Kenya. He praised Kirwa for what Kirwa brings to the cross country team.

“It’s really good to have somebody who can just go for it,” Cheromei said. “It’s so helpful that we know that we have a lead person out there.”

Kirwa recently competed in the Division I Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky on Oct. 17. With a time of 24:15.1 in the 8K, he placed tenth, posting the best time among all of the freshman entrants. Kirwa’s efforts helped the Flames win the unseeded race, as the Flames outran the other 30 teams.

After such a strong start to his career, Kirwa and his coaches have high hopes for the future.

“I think he’s really had a good start,” Cheromei said. “I feel like he has the potential to go to nationals this year, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Husker is a sports reporter.

One comment

  • Praise God always Azariah those days u used to practice every morning and evening uasin gishu high skul field God had stored ua talent in a special place

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