Chelimo earns All-America honors at NCAA Championship 11-20-2011

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – UNCG sophomore Paul Chelimo came in 13th place to become the first runner in school history to earn All-America honors on Monday afternoon at the NCAA Championship on the Gibson Championship Course.

Chelimo, who ran amongst the lead pack all afternoon, completed the 10k course in a time of 29:39.1. His time broke his own school record he set at the NCAA Southeast Regional by 13 seconds. His 13th place finish made him the first All-American runner in school history as the top 40 runners earned All-America status.

"The strategy for Paul today was to get out front like he has all season," said coach Linh Nguyen. "At regionals, he stayed with the pack and we felt that didn't work out as well. Today, he got back to what he did all year and it worked out very well. For him to be 13th as a sophomore and in his first NCAA race is an amazing result. He ran really tough today and proved himself to be one of the best runners in the country today."

Teammate Joey Thompson also competed for the UNCG men's team after earning an at-large selection and turned in a time of 31:37.3 to finish in 189th place. Thompson, who sports a 3.96 GPA in finance, claimed the NCAA Elite 89 award following the race.

The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA championships.

"When I recruited Joey four years ago, I told him we were going to build the program around him and that I thought he would be a national level runner," said Nguyen. "Here we are in his senior year and both things have happened. He's been so good and so consistent. He has gotten progressively better each year and proved this year to be a national level talent. What a great cross country season he's had. I'm very proud of him this year. He ran hard today and should be proud of his race."

On the women's side, Ashley Schnell finished in 66th place after running the 6k course in 20:46.2. Her time was the second-fastest in school history in that distance after her time of 20:23.1 she turned in at the NCAA Southeast Regional. She missed becoming an All-American by 16 seconds.

"Ashley has proven over and over that she is not only talented, but amazingly tough," said Nguyen. "She wanted to run for All-American honors and that's what she went after. She got out hard and was fighting for the top 35 the whole way. For her to finish 66th is a great result. If you run this race 10 different times, she is probably an All-American at least four of those times. She's had just a phenomenal season and has proven herself over and over."

Freshman sensation Lawi Lalang from Arizona easily won the men's individual title by 13 seconds as he ran a 28:44.1 after running away from the rest of the pack about midway through the race. The Wisconsin men's team was able to walk away with the team title, as well.

Sheila Reid from Villanova claimed her second-straight individual title in the women's race after running a 19:41.2 to edge out Oregon's Jordan Hasay by just .6 seconds. Georgetown won the women's team title by just eight points over Washington.



Men's results: 13. Paul Chelimo, 29:39.1; 189. Joey Thompson, 31:37.3 

Women's results: 66. Ashley Schnell, 20:46.2

- UNCG -

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