Chelimo Claims NCAA Southeast Regional Title, Katam Also Qualifies For NCAA Championships
GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the second straight year, UNCG men’s cross country program will send two runners to the NCAA Cross Country National Championships as senior Paul Chelimo (Chebiemit, Kenya/Chebiemit Boys School) and junior Paul Katam (Eldoret, Kenya/Sacho) qualified for the pinnacle race Friday afternoon, earning two of the four individual spots from the Southeast Region. The University of Virginia hosted the 10,000-meter race at the Panorama Farms course.
Chelimo became the program’s first ever NCAA Regional Cross Country Champion as he won the 10,000-meter race with a personal-record and UNCG program-record time of 28:37.30. He edged out N.C. State’s Andrew Colley by just 1.4 seconds to claim his first championship after finishing second in the NCAA Regionals the past two seasons. Chelimo held the lead after 5,000-meters, but was second at the 8,000-meter mark before tracking down Colley at the line. Last year’s, regional champion Soufiane Bouchikhi of Eastern Kentucky placed third with a time of 28:43.60.
Chelimo’s time of 28:37.30 trims almost a minute off his previous program-record time of 29:29.80 set last year at the NCAA Championships where he finished seventh overall. The two-time cross country All-America runner will be one of the top contenders in the 2013 NCAA Championships held Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
"It was a really good performance," Chelimo told the News & Record. "I'm peaking right now. I'm in good shape right now.The big difference (earning a PR by 52.5 seconds) is I'm not in pain. Last year I couldn't do any workouts (iliotibial band issues)."
Katam qualified for his second NCAA Championship race, placing seventh overall with a time of 29:00.90. He was the fourth and final individual qualifier from the region. The top two teams qualify then the next four top individuals advance to the championship race. Katam’s time of 29:00.90 set a personal-record, trimming 43 seconds off his previous time of 29:43.62 set at the 2012 NCAA Regionals. Last year, he placed sixth at the regional and turned in a 77th place showing in the National Championship.
Chelimo and Katam led the Spartans to an 11th place team showing in the NCAA Regional in the 35-team field. Eastern Kentucky won the event with 58 total points while host Virginia was second with 96 points.
Junior Dylan Belles (Denver, N.C./East Lincoln) posted his top time of his career, clocking in at 30:31.0 to place 56th overall. Senior Abraham Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kipkabus) concluded his cross country career with a 69th place showing in a time of 30:52.40. Kemboi trimmed almost an entire minute off his previous time of 31:49.35 set at last year’s NCAA Regional race.
Two teams from each of nine regionals and the four fastest individuals not on those teams qualified for the NCAA meet at Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23. Thirteen at-large teams will be chosen, and an NCAA committee also will pick two additional runners.
NCAA Southeast Regional Team Standings
1.) Eastern Kentucky, 58
2.) Virginia, 96
3.) NC State, 101
4.) North Carolina, 137
5.) Virginia Tech, 167
6.) William & Mary, 232
7.) Louisville, 236
8.) Duke, 253
9.) High Point, 264
10.) Liberty, 273
11.) UNCG, 299
UNCG Individual Times
1. Paul Chelimo, 28:37.3
7. Paul Katam, 29:00.90
56. Dylan Belles, 30:41.0
69. Abraham Kemboi, 30:52.40
173. Tyron Alston, 32:46.40
200. Josh Crawford, 33:33.3
212. Brandon Cain, 34:09.7
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