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Chelanga Races to Third Place in Men's 10K

June 11, 2009  Fayetteville, Ark.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga earned the fifth All-America certificate of his career Thursday evening, finishing third in the men's 10K final.

Sam Chelanga earned the fifth All-America certificate of his career Thursday evening, finishing third in the men's 10K final.

Official Men's 10K Splits

View postrace interview with Sam Chelanga (Courtesy

Day 2 blog

Liberty redshirt sophomore Sam Chelanga led throughout much of the men's 10,000-meter final before finishing third, late Thursday evening at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His fifth career All-America performance highlighted Liberty's efforts on day two at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark.

Chelanga (Nairobi, Kenya) finished in a time of 28:35.40, trailing only Oregon senior Galen Rupp and Arkansas senior Shawn Forrest. Rupp's winning effort, 28:21.45, marked only the third time in the last 19 years the NCAA men's 10K champion has dipped under the 28:30 mark. Chelanga's third-place finish equaled the highest placing ever achieved by a Liberty men's athlete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It also capped a brilliant sophomore campaign, which also saw Chelanga finish second at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and in the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships 5K final.

The race quickly turned into a three-man showdown between Chelanga, Forrest and Rupp, as the Liberty sophomore blazed a 4:23 opening mile. No one else in the field was a factor for the remainder of the race, as fourth-place Patrick Smyth of Notre Dame finished 33 seconds behind Chelanga. Chelanga and Forrest exchanged first place numerous times, as Rupp was content to stalk the duo in third place most of the way.

Chelanga, Forrest and Rupp split exactly 14:00 for the first half of the race, before slowing the pace down a bit during the next few laps. The stage was set for a thrilling final 1,200 meters, as all three frontrunners took turns surging to the lead.

Chelanga made the first notable move, covering 200 meters in 31 seconds after he crossed the line with three laps remaining. Rupp had the last laugh, however. The senior's long, decisive drive to the finishing tape began with 650 meters left, leaving Forrest and Chelanga in his wake. Rupp covered the final 800 meters in 1:59, while capturing his fifth national championship of the year. Forrest also outkicked Chelanga to the stripe, delighting the home fans and wrapping up his second straight national runner-up showing.

Shortly after the buzz died down from the men's 10K, Daniel Newell (R-Sr., Roanoke, Va.) completed the best decathlon of his career. He kicked hard down the final straightaway of the 1,500 meters to finish off a 7,302-point competition and place 16th overall in a talented field. Newell, who joins All-Americans Henry Elliott, Brandon Hoskins and Ryan Werner (twice) as the only Liberty decathletes ever to score more than 7,300 points at the NCAA meet, eclipsed his previous career high by 47 markers.

Newell's second day, which took more than 8.5 hours to complete, featured a number of superlative marks. He started off the afternoon with a personal-best 15.31 effort in the 110-meter hurdles, giving a sign of things to come. Newell later recorded a season-best 118-7 in the discus and matched his career-best pole vault at 14-5.25, before closing the late night of competition with a gutsy season-best 1,500-meter time of 4:36.53.

John Talbert (Newton, Kan.), one of two true freshmen competing in the men's discus at the NCAA national meet, placed 23rd in the event prelims Thursday afternoon. His third attempt, which reached 174-2, was his longest of the day, but Talbert failed to qualify for Saturday's men's discus final.

Liberty is now finished competing at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will continue through Saturday. The Flames, who are tied with Florida and Kansas State for 10th place through the meet's first four events, will finish with a team score of six points.

The track & field season is not quite complete, though. A number of current and former Liberty athletes will travel to historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., June 25-28 for the USATF Junior and Senior Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Final Decathlon Standings
1) Ashton Eaton, Oregon – 8,241
2) Mateo Sossah, North Carolina – 8,044
3) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State – 7,937
4) Michael Ayers, Tennessee – 7,794
5) Lars Rise, Missouri – 7,776
6) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska – 7,689
7) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M – 7,652
8) Daniel Keller, North Carolina – 7,631
16) Daniel Newell, Liberty – 7,302