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Chelanga to Make Outdoor Season Debut

April 30, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga will compete in the Kim McDonald Memorial section of the men's 10K at Saturday's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

Sam Chelanga will compete in the Kim McDonald Memorial section of the men's 10K at Saturday's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

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Seven-time All-American Sam Chelanga will make his 2010 outdoor track & field season debut Saturday evening, competing in the Kim McDonald Memorial 10K at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif. He is one of seven Liberty mid-distance and distance runners entered in the high-quality meet at Cobb Track and Angell Field.

Liberty's other competitors at Stanford include Jaime Watson in the women's 800, Jennifer Klugh and Rebekah Ricksecker in the women's 1,500, Ashley Osborne in the women's 10K, Evans Kigen in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase and Josh Edmonds in the men's 10K. A chronological meet preview follows below.

How to Follow the Flames
Live video streaming for all of Saturday's races will be provided, free of charge, on will also be on hand at Stanford, conducting post-race interviews with many of the top performers and archiving the race videos after the conclusion of the meet.

Finally, live results will also be available through

8:02 p.m. Eastern – Jaime Watson – Women's 800 (Section 1)
Watson, who qualified for the 2010 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in the 800, will look for her first fast time of the current outdoor season. The redshirt senior will also take aim at Liberty's outdoor school record in the event, a 2:08.00 clocking by Heather Sagan in 2002.

Watson will be part of a USA vs. Canada battle in the event. Top American entrants include Nikeya Green, an 800-meter finalist at the 2008 Olympic Trials, and UC Riverside senior Brenda Martinez, last year's NCAA national runner-up in the 1,500.

On the Canadian side, four of the top seven finishers from the 2009 Canadian Track & Field Championships women's 800 final are entered in Watson's heat, led by the winner of that race, Rebecca Johnstone. Helen Crofts of Simon Fraser, who placed eighth of that race, has been on a roll this year, recently running a 2:04.51 at the Mt. SAC Relays.

8:37 p.m. – Jennifer Klugh – Women's 1,500 (Section 4)
Klugh has been a consistent performer for the Lady Flames, and she was the only women's runner to earn All-Big South honors in all three legs of Liberty's conference "Double Triple," (cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.) The third-place finisher in the Big South 1,500-meter final hopes to lower her personal-best time of 4:38.63 and give chase to the ECAC qualifying standard of 4:31.44.

Klugh figures to be pushed by a pair of freshmen and a 39-year old. Utah freshman Amanda Mergaert (4:26.56) and San Francisco freshman Eva Krchova (4:27.23) own the two fastest times among the dozen entries in Klugh's heat. Meanwhile, 39-year-old Kris Paaso of New Balance has recently run a 4:31.

8:43 p.m. – Rebekah Ricksecker – Women's 1,500 (Section 3)
Ricksecker will be running the 1,500 for the first time since the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where she became the first runner in conference history to win the event three times. The Delaware native has already qualified for the ECAC meet with her 4:30.48 at the Raleigh Relays, but will attempt to improve her chances at reaching the NCAA Preliminary Round meet.

Ricksecker's top competition may come from a pair of 800-meter specialists and two runners who have clocked stellar 5K times this season. Renisha Robinson and Lea Wallace both ran the 800 at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in March, representing Sacramento State. Meanwhile, Colorado's Laura Thweatt and Rice's Britany Williams have each run 16:11 for the 5K this spring.

9:32 p.m. – Evans Kigen – Men's 3,000 Steeplechase (Section 2)
Kigen was very impressive in his most recent outing, posting dominant victories in the steeplechase and 5K events at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships and earning Men's Outstanding Track Performer honors. The redshirt junior will now begin his drive toward his second career appearance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the steeplechase.

Kigen redshirted the entire 2009 season, leaving VMI senior Donnie Cowart to take the mantle as the Big South Conference's top steeplechase runner. Cowart earned All-America distinction in the event during his final season with the Keydets and is now continuing his racing career with the Ragged Mountain Racing team in Charlottesville, Va. Cowart will face off with Kigen in his heat Saturday evening.

Other names to watch include Derek Dutille, Ryan Gasper and Steve Strickland. Dutille finished second in the steeplechase at last weekend's Penn Relays, Gasper is the two-time defending Big 10 steeplechase champion from Wisconsin and Utah State's Strickland is projected to finish sixth in this event at the NCAA national meet by Track & Field News.

12:08 a.m. – Ashley Osborne – Women's 10K (Kim McDonald Memorial Section)
Osborne, the Big South 5K and 10K champion, hopes to build upon her breakthrough 10K performance at the Raleigh Relays. That evening, the redshirt senior sliced more than two minutes off of her previous personal best time, posting the fastest Division I time in the nation at that point, 35:35.65.

Osborne will have plenty of competition on Saturday, as she is one of only nine collegiate competitors in the 32-member race. Top professional entries include three-time U.S. Olympian Jen Rhines, 2009 World Championships 10K qualifier Katie McGregor and 2010 USATF cross country runner-up Molly Huddle.

Among the collegians, Tennessee's Jackie Areson and Tulsa's Alex Becker should be top contenders. Areson owns the NCAA's fastest 5K time this season, 15:51.56, and Becker is sixth on that list at 15:58.01.

12:45 a.m. – Sam Chelanga – Men's 10K (Kim McDonald Memorial Section)
Chelanga, the NCAA 10K record holder at 27:28.48, makes his first career appearance in one of the premier events of the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational each year, the Kim McDonald Memorial men's 10K. Chelanga has enjoyed success at this meet before, though. During his redshirt season of 2008, he clocked a 28:15.99 to win section 2 of the 10K. Last year, Chelanga finished third in the top section of the 5K at this meet, notching a 13:28.31.

Chelanga has not competed since March 12, when he finished as the 5K runner-up at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. His last 10K race on the track also took place in Fayetteville, when Chelanga placed third at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The top four finishers from last year's NCAA 10K final are entered in Saturday evening's race, also including national champion Galen Rupp, runner-up Shawn Forrest and fourth-place finisher Patrick Smyth. Rupp intends to shoot for the American 10K record of 27:13.98 this weekend, but there is still a chance that he might make his record attempt at his home track, Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., instead.

Chelanga is the only collegiate athlete among the 28 names on the Kim McDonald Memorial 10K entry list. Six of his competitors in the event are past Olympians, and many of America's top distance runners are scheduled to compete as well. In addition to Rupp, top U.S. hopes in the race lie with Anthony Famiglietti, Tim Nelson and Chris Solinsky.

1:16 a.m. – Josh Edmonds – Men's 10K (Section 2)
The only two runners to defeat Edmonds in the 10K at the Big South meet, High Point's Jesse Cherry and Cole Atkins, both flourished on their trip to Stanford in March. Cherry ran a 28:44 and Atkins posted a 29:20 in the 10K at the Stanford Invitational. Edmonds hopes for similar results, as he attempts to improve upon his personal-best 30:25.29 effort.

Four participants in the 10K from the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will race against Edmonds, including Tulsa's John Beattie, New Mexico's Chris Barnicle, former Air Force standout Sean Houseworth and Lamar's Samuel Kosgei.

Other runners to watch include Stephen Sambu from Rend Lake, the reigning NJCAA national 10K champion, and two two-time Swiss Olympian Christian Belz.