LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Junior Paul Chelimo (Chebiemit, Kenya/Chebiemit Boys School) and sophomore Paul Katam (Eldoret, Kenya/Sacho) both recorded top 10 finishes in 2012 debuts Saturday morning to lead the UNCG men's cross country team to a 14th place finish in the ultra-competitive Greater Louisville Classic at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. The race field featured two top-10 teams and the defending individual NCAA cross country champion.
Chelimo posted a new school record and a career-best time of 22:59.37 in the 8,000-meter race to finish third overall, trailing the Arizona duo of Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu. The three runners broke away from the pack after the first mile and it became clear it would be a three person race for the finish line as the fourth place finisher was over 42 seconds off the pace.
Lalang, the defending NCAA cross country champion, won the race with a time of 22:33.57 while Sambu, the NCAA runner-up in 2010, placed second in a time of 22:36.37. Chelimo's time of 22:59.62 bests his previous top mark at 8,000-meters by over 12 seconds (23:11.56 at Southern Conference Championships) and he now owns the top four times in school history.
Katam made his debut Saturday with a seventh place finish in the race, posting a time of 24:00.90. His time ranks eighth all-time in program history and is just over a second off his personal best which was set last year at the SoCon Championships (23:59.80).
"The men's race went pretty well for us today," head coach Linh Nguyen
said. "I was really happy to see Chelimo mixing it up with Lalang and Sambu today after having missed four days of training this week. Katam also ran a great race with a top 10 finish. We looked pretty good through four men, but just need to see the next group step up a little. I am happy with where our team is right now in the season."
UNCG finished 14th as a team with a total score of 427 in the 31-team field. Eighth-ranked Iona won the event with a score of 47 as the Gaels had three runners in the top six and seven in the top 60. Columbia was second with a 110 while Georgia posted a 143 to round out the top three.
Junior Abraham Kemboi
(Eldoret, Kenya/Eldoret) finished 90th
in the race in a time of 25:11.13 while sophomore Dylan Belles
(Denver, N.C./East Lincoln) placed 163rd
in a time of personal-record time of 25:56.97. Belles' time surpassed his previous mark of 26:02 set earlier this season at the Elon Invitational.
3. Paul Chelimo, 22:59.62; 7. Paul Katam, 24:00.90; 90. Abraham Kemboi, 25:11.13; 163. Dylan Belles, 25:56.97; 215. Tyron Alston
, 26:43.84; 216. Eric Williams
, 26:45.03; 225. Taylor Day
, 26:53.56; 227. Josh Crawford, 26:55.28; 247. Brandon Cain
, 28:08.84; 252. John Elwood
- UNCG -