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Trio of Spartans head to NCAA Championship

Courtesy: UNCGSpartans.com
         
Release: November 17, 2011
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UNCG at NCAA Cross Country Championship, Nov. 21, Terre Haute, Ind.

Storylines:

- UNCG's Paul Chelimo, Joey Thompson and Ashley Schnell will represent the Spartans this weekend as they compete at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Monday afternoon. The race will be run at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center.

- The men's 10k race will begin at 12:08 p.m. with the women's 6k race to follow immediately at 12:58 p.m. The awards ceremony will begin shortly after the women's race concludes. The top 40 runners in each race will earn All-America honors.

- A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from noon to 1:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.

- Fans can follow the UNCG cross country coaches on Twitter for updates during the meet by clicking here.

- The three Spartan runners qualified for nationals on Nov. 12 at the NCAA Southeast Regional. Chelimo automatically qualified after earning runner-up honors at regionals with a time of 29:52.6, which broke the school record by a minute and 28 seconds. Schnell came in fifth place in the women's race in a time of 20:23.1 to break her own school record and secure the final automatic bid. Thompson was one of just two at-large selections who were chosen nationally after being the first runner to miss automatically qualifying at regionals.

- On Oct. 29, the Spartans went to Charleston, S.C. for the 2011 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships. Paul Chelimo and Ashley Schnell claimed top individual honors in the men's and women's races, respectively. It was the second year in a row for Schnell and both student-athletes were named the SoCon Runner of the Year.

- In addition to the individual titles at the SoCon Championships, the men's and women's teams also won the team titles in commanding fashion. The men's team won by 47 points and the women's team claimed its championship by 45 points. Head coach Linh Nguyen was also named the SoCon Coach of the Year on both sides.

- The men's and women's squads are ranked in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) regional rankings. The women's team moved up three spots in the latest rankings and are now No. 5 in the Southeast Region and the men's team is No. 10 in the region. Both are the highest rankings for each program in school history.

- On Nov. 3, Schnell picked up a pair of Southern Conference awards for her efforts at the SoCon Championships. She received SoCon Runner of the Month honors and was also named the SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week. Schnell currently has a perfect 4.0 GPA in music with a concentration in instrumental performance.

- On Oct. 14, UNCG traveled to Charlottesville, Va. to run in the Panorama Farms Invitational. Paul Chelimo once again took home top individual honors in the men's race and Ashley Schnell did the same in the women's race. Joey Thompson and Paul Katam both turned in top-10 performances on the men's side, as well. For her efforts, Schnell was named the SoCon Runner of the Week on Oct. 19.

- Last year at the SoCon Championships, the men's team had a school-best second-place finish and the women's team came away in third place, also tops in program history. Individually, Schnell took home top individual honors on the women's side and was named the SoCon Runner of the Year. Shaina Sumney, Kerry Hartman, Joey Thompson, Mike Koech and AJ Savoia all earned All-SoCon honors, as well.

- On Oct. 5, sophomore Paul Chelimo was named the Southern Conference Runner of the Week. It was his second time winning the award as she also took home the same honor on Sept. 21. Just a day later, Chelimo was recognized as the SoCon Runner of the Month for the month of September.

- On Sept. 30, Paul Chelimo led wire-to-wire to claim top individual honors at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa. in a race that featured seven top-25 programs. Chelimo finished 17 seconds ahead of second place with a time of 23:55. Paul Katam, Joey Thompson and Abraham Kemboi all turned in top-100 finishes, as well. On the women's side, Ashley Schnell finished in 15th place with a time of 20:58. That was the second-fastest 6k time in school history.

- Back on Sept. 17, the Spartans had an incredible performance at the Elon Invitational. Paul Chelimo shattered the school record in the 8k by 40 seconds to finish in first with a time of 23:40. The Spartan men had the top four finishers as they ran away with the team title. On the women's side, Ashley Schnell also claimed top individual honors as she bested her own school record by 18 seconds after running the 5k in 17:19.

- For their performances at the Elon Invitational, Chelimo and Schnell were named the Southern Conference men's and women's Runners of the Week. Schnell also earned the SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week award on Sept. 21 as she holds a 4.0 GPA in music.

- On Sept. 3, the Spartans had a great opening weekend as the women placed first and the men earned runner-up honors at the Guilford College XC Carnival. Kelly Montague took top individual honors in the women's race as she was one of six Spartans to finish in the top eight at the meet. On the men's side, Tyron Alston came in second place as all five male runners finish in the top-15.

- Prior to the season, the women's team was picked to finish first in the Southern Conference by the head coaches in the league, while the men's squad was selected to earn runner-up honors. The women picked up 10 of a possible 12 first-place votes as they nearly earned unanimous honors. The men picked up one first-place vote and were picked to finish behind Appalachian State, who has won the SoCon title the past six years.

- The men's team returns many of the runners who helped propel them to a runner-up finish at the 2010 SoCon Championship. Joey Thompson, who was runner-up in the meet and named first-team All-SoCon, returns for his senior season, along with Mike Koech, who also earned first-team All-SoCon honors a season ago.

- The men's squad will add a trio of runners from Kenya that should bolster the Spartan lineup in 2011. Paul Katam, who redshirted the cross country season in 2010, qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the 10k during the 2011 outdoor track season and nearly advanced to nationals. Joining the team this year is Paul Chelimo, who was an NAIA All-American in 2010 after finishing in third place at the NAIA National Championship, and Abraham Kemboi, who also made it to the NAIA National Championship.

- UNCG returns four runners on the women's team that finished in the top-20 at the 2010 SoCon Championship, highlighted by Ashley Schnell who claimed top honors at the meet and was named the 2010 SoCon Women's Runner of the Year. In addition to Schnell's first-place finish, Shaina Sumney (fourth), Kerry Hartman (15th) and Ginny Cronley (17th) also finished in the top-20. The Spartans will also have the services of Chelsea Sumney this fall as she redshirted the 2010 season with an injury.

- UNCG -

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