GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men's and women's cross country teams head to the NCAA Southeast Regional race Friday afternoon at McApline Park in Charlotte, N.C. The women's race 6,000-meter race starts noon Friday with the men's 10,000-meter race beginning at 1:15 p.m. McApline Park is located off of Monroe Road on the Southeast side of Charlotte.
"We will be a little short-handed on the men's side in this race, but we are going to try and do the best we can tomorrow," head coach Linh Nguyen
said. "I think we can be a top-15 team, especially with two low scores up front. This is just the women's second chance at a 6k and it will more experience young runners while hopefully Chelsea can be up front challenging for a spot at nationals."
The men's race includes 40 teams from the region that includes programs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. The Spartans enter the race ranked 15th in the region by the USTFCCAA in the latest poll with Eastern Kentucky entering the competition as the top-ranked team. UNCG pulled a box draw position of 19 out of the 40 teams.
The Spartans are led by Southern Conference Runner of the Year Paul Chelimo
(Chebiemit, Kenya/Chebiemit Boys School). Chelimo ran away with the SoCon championship as he owned the top three times in the league this season in the 8,000-meter race, including a career-best time of 22:59.62 at the Greater Louisville Classic (9./29/12).
"We would like Paul (Chelimo) to win the race, that was the goal last year and he got beat by a strong guy in Matt Hill from NC State," Nguyen said. "Our region is extremely strong with a lot of tough runners, but Paul will definitely be running for the win tomorrow."
Last season, Chelimo finished second in the NCAA Southeast Regional in Louisville, Ky., shattering the previous school-record in the 10,000-meter race by a minute and 28 seconds. He finished just three seconds behind NC State's Matt Hill for the individual title, posting a time of 29:52.6. He advanced to the NCAA Championships last season and posted a 13th place finish to earn All-America accolades.
Sophomore Paul Katam
(Eldoret, Kenya/Sacho) returns to the NCAA Southeast Regional looking to improve on his 15th
place finish in the race last year as a freshman when he posted a personal best time of 30:29.90. Katam is coming off a second place finish in the SoCon Championship when he posted a time of 23:57.50 in the 8,000-meter distance. Junior Abraham Kemboi
(Eldoret, Kenya/Kipkabus) rounds out the Spartans' top-three performers this season as he turned in a ninth-place finish at the SoCon Championships.
The women's race includes 42 teams from the same region as the men's race and UNCG has drawn the 20th position in the start. The Spartans are led by senior Chelsea Sumney (Washington, Pa./Trinity) who finished third in the SoCon championship race at the Laurel Hill Plantation. Sumney posted a 5,000-meter time of 17:27.47, which was her top mark this year. Last year, she placed 31st at the NCAA Southeast Regional with a time of 21:11.30 in the 6,000-meter race.
Junior Kelly Montague (Garner, N.C./West Johnston) was the Spartans' second finisher at the SoCon race, posting a time of 18:43.28 to finish 41st overall. Montague set a personal best time in the 6,000 meters last year in the regional, crossing the line in a time of 23:08.
- UNCG -