Chelimo, Schnell advance to NCAA Championships 11-11-2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – UNCG's Paul Chelimo and Ashley Schnell became the first runners in school history to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as the duo led the Spartans on Saturday at the NCAA Southeast Regional.

The top two teams in each region qualified for the NCAA Championships and the top four runners in each regional not on those two qualifying teams also earned bids to nationals. 13 at-large teams and two at-large individuals will be chosen by the NCAA Division I track and field subcommittee on Sunday.

Chelimo earned runner-up honors in the men's 10k race to qualify, while Schnell finished in fifth place in the women's 6k race.

Chelimo shattered the previous school record in the 10k by a minute and 28 seconds that was set just last season by teammate Mike Koech after running a 29:52.6. Chelimo was just under three seconds behind NC State's Matt Hill for the individual title.

Teammate Joey Thompson wasn't far behind as he finished in eighth place in a time of 30:16.9. Thompson nearly qualified for nationals with Chelimo, but was the first individual runner who didn't make it. He has the possibility of being one of the two at-large bids that will be announced on Sunday.

Paul Katam also had a great showing as he finished in 15th place after running a 30:29.9. Chelimo, Thompson and Katam all earned All-Region accolades for their performances, becoming the first three men's runners in school history to earn the distinction.

"The top three guys ran great today," said coach Linh Nguyen. "Chelimo was in front battling for the win the entire time. Joey and Paul worked in the chase pack the entire time and then Joey really moved up the last 2k to put himself in the top 10. NC State is the only other team that had three guys finish in the top 15. We've never had a guy make the All-Region team before and today we had three. That's a pretty good day.

"Chelimo qualified for nationals as the top individual qualifier. Unfortunately, unless Joey gets one of the two at large spots, he will be the first non-qualifier. He ran an amazing race today and I'm extremely proud to see him take this step to the next level. As a team we were hoping for a top 5 finish but it just didn't happen for us. We finished in the top 10 for the first time ever and were only a point behind Duke and 10 behind Louisville. We have a lot to build on for next year as a team."

On the women's side, SoCon Runner of the Year Ashley Schnell continued to impress this season. Schnell broke her own school record by 25 seconds that she set last season at the same meet after running a 20:23.1. She also earned All-Region honors for the second time in as many years.

Chelsea Sumney was just six spots away from also being named All-Region as she finished in 31st place after running a 21:11.3. Kerry Hartman wasn't far behind her as she came in 48th place in a time of 21:38.3 and Shaina Sumney was eight seconds behind her to finish in 57th place.

As a team, the men finished in eighth place with 198 points, just one point shy of Duke and 10 points shy of host Louisville. The women's squad came in seventh place with 211 points, just behind Virginia Tech.

"Ashley put herself in a great position early and ran with the lead group the entire way," said Nguyen. "Over the last 1k, the group broke up and Ashley hung tough to finish 5th and earn an individual spot to nationals. The other women did great today and fought extremely hard. It was difficult to move up through the race because it was so fast today. They all went out there and battled and I'm very proud of their efforts today. Again, we wanted a top 5 finish and fell just short. I think almost all of the women ran PR's though, so we put our best out there and that's all you can ask.

"This has been a great year for both teams. It's been the best year in UNCG cross country history. I couldn't be prouder of every single one of these student-athletes. At the end of the day, we have two top 10 teams, four All-Region runners and two national qualifiers. That's not too shabby."

Chelimo and Schnell will turn their attention towards the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.



Men's results:
2. Paul Chelimo, 29:52.6; 8. Joey Thompson, 30:16.9; 15. Paul Katam, 30:29.9; 73. Abraham Kemboi, 32:01.4; 100. Mike Koech, 32:31.2; 142. Brian Carrington, 33:28.3; 186. Tyron Alston, 34:50.1. 

Team results:
1. NC State, 68
2. Eastern Kentucky, 139
3. William & Mary, 152
4. Virginia Tech, 161
5. North Carolina, 162
6. Louisville, 188
7. Duke, 197
8. UNCG, 198

9. Virginia, 238
10. Western Kentucky, 285
11. Liberty, 294
12. George Mason, 357
13. Wake Forest, 394
14. Davidson, 409
15. High Point, 419
16. Kentucky, 422
16. Clemson, 422
18. Appalachian State, 457
19. Richmond, 549
20. Norfolk State, 567
21. Charlotte, 570
22. USC Upstate, 590
23. Elon, 647
23. VMI, 647
25. Western Carolina, 761
26. Winthrop, 776
27. UNCW, 781
28. College of Charleston, 807
29. Coastal Carolina, 831
30. Morehead State, 842
31. Longwood, 996
32. Gardner-Webb, 1,008 

Women's results:
5. Ashley Schnell, 20:23.1; 31. Chelsea Sumney, 21:11.3; 48. Kerry Hartman, 21:38.3; 57. Shaina Sumney, 21:46.3; 70. Ginny Cronley, 21:56.4; 157. Kelly Montague, 23:08.6; 201. Chelsea Willette, 24:02.6.

Team results:
1. Virginia, 107
2. NC State, 113
3. North Carolina, 133
4. Clemson, 147
5. Duke, 178
6. Virginia Tech, 199
7. UNCG, 211

8. James Madison, 284
9. William & Mary, 344
10. Charlotte, 352
11. East Carolina, 362
12. Kentucky, 383
13. Wake Forest, 414
14. Richmond, 438
15. Furman, 448
16. Western Kentucky, 454
17. USC Upstate, 468
18. High Point, 506
19. Eastern Kentucky, 515
20. Appalachian State, 526
21. Elon, 539
22. Liberty, 624
23. Louisville, 634
24. South Carolina, 638
25. Coastal Carolina, 668
26. College of Charleston, 676
27. Murray State, 697
28. Davidson, 700
29. Western Carolina, 715
30. UNCW, 758
31. Winthrop, 797
32. Morehead State, 863
33. VMI, 950
34. Longwood, 967
35. Gardner-Webb, 1,048

- UNCG -

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