Sam Chelanga, shown here winning his first NCAA track & field national championship in 2010 at Hayward Field, will return to Eugene to be a part of Oregon Track Club Elite. (Photo by Brian Mason)
Upon returning from his honeymoon, former Liberty cross country/track & field standout Sam Chelanga will join his first professional track & field club. Chelanga will train with and compete for Nike-sponsored Oregon Track Club (OTC) Elite, based in Eugene, Ore. OTC Elite's roster boasts a wide array of top-level athletes, highlighted by decathlete Ashton Eaton, high jumper Jesse Williams and mid-distance stars Nick Symmonds and Andrew Weating. Chelanga's primary coaches with OTC Elite will be Mark Rowland and Vin Lananna. Chelanga has positive memories of Eugene, after winning his first NCAA Division I track & field national title at Hayward Field. On June 10, 2010, he won the men's 10K final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. After the race, he stated, "This place is awesome. The crowd was amazing and cheered for me a lot. That means a lot to me." Hayward Field will also play host to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, from June 22-July 1. Chelanga is still in the process of seeking U.S. citizenship, and it is uncertain whether or not he will be able to compete at the Olympic Trials. Chelanga has run three road races since wrapping up his sensational collegiate career, which featured four NCAA national titles and 14 All-America honors. He made his professional racing debut June 26 in Boston, placing fourth in the inaugural B.A.A. 10K. His official time of 28:31 placed fourth overall, trailing only the top three finishers from the 2011 Boston Marathon. On Sept. 18, Chelanga headed to Providence, R.I. for the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K, which doubled as the USA 5K Championships. He clocked a time of 13:45.9, placing a close second to Ben True. Chelanga then picked up another runner-up finish on Oct. 9, in an impressive half-marathon debut. The Nairobi, Kenya native posted a time of 1:03:41 in the B.A.A. Half Marathon in Boston, crossing the line five seconds behind Ethiopia's Ali Abdosh. Less than two weeks later, Chelanga was married to former Liberty distance runner Marybeth Carlson. The wedding took place on Oct. 22 in Carlson's hometown of Plymouth, Mass.
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