Sam Chelanga became the first Liberty athlete to qualify for the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, winning the men's 10K on Thursday.
Day 1 Blog Liberty redshirt junior Sam Chelanga won the men's 10K at the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round track & field meet, punching his ticket to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The seven-time All-American's qualification highlighted a warm, muggy Thursday of competition at North Carolina A&T's Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro, N.C. The start of the men's 10K was delayed by 45 minutes, due to the day's oppressive heat and humidity. When the gun finally went off though, Chelanga took the lead from the get-go and never looked back. He covered the first 5K in 14:33, building a 12-second lead by that juncture. Chelanga's advantage eventually ballooned to half a minute, before he coasted home to victory in a time of 29:27.20. That put him 17 seconds ahead of runner-up Ben Cheruiyot of Auburn and safely into the NCAA men's 10K national final, to be contested June 10 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. However, Liberty seniors Josh Edmonds and Ashley Osborne were not able to able to adapt to the unfavorable conditions as well. Edmonds dropped out of the men's 10K about halfway through and Osborne placed 40th in the women's 10K with a 37:14.92. Earlier in the day, the Flames' long jumpers thrived in the heat and nearly sent two athletes to Eugene. All four of Clarence Powell's attempts measured 24-5 or longer, capped off by a 24-7.25 on his finale. That effort earned the junior 14th place, leaving him a tantalizing two inches shy of the 12th and final qualifying berth to Eugene. Meanwhile, Anthony Bryant jumped a career-best 24-5 on his second try, closing his redshirt sophomore campaign with an 18th-place finish out of 48 competitors. Teammate Oronde Vassell ended up 38th at 23-6.25, while Aaron Johnson followed in 45th place, with a top mark of 22-8.5. Returning to the track, redshirt senior Jaime Watson moved on to Friday's quarterfinal round in the women's 800. She finished fourth in her heat with the second-fastest outdoor time of her career, 2:07.72. The clocking ranked 17th out of the 24 quarterfinal qualifiers. Fellow female mid-distance runners Rebekah Ricksecker and Jennifer Klugh failed to make the women's 1,500-meter quarterfinal. Ricksecker placed 31st overall at 4:28.09, while Klugh came in 42nd with a 4:36.09. Finally, Isaac Wendland posted the 39th-fastest time in the men's 800 prelims, 1:51.19. He was just added to the field for this meet Tuesday afternoon, after a last-minute scratch by another athlete. Friday's competition will begin at 10 a.m., when Elliot Galeone participates in the men's javelin. Running events will follow at 4:30 p.m., and sophomore Olivia Charnuski will be the first Liberty athlete to take the track, in the opening round of the women's 100-meter hurdles.