Watch ESPN3 Replay of 5,000-Meter Race (Start at 1:22.35)
EUGENE, Ore. – UNCG junior runner Paul Chelimo (Chebiemit, Kenya/Chebiemit Boys School) earned First Team All-America honors and finished as the National Runner-Up for the second straight season in the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track National Championship 5,000-meter race at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon Saturday. The Spartans, who only brought two runners to the National Championships, finished 15th overall in the nation with 16 total points.
"What can you say about Paul Chelimo other than he is extremely tough and steps up on the big stage," head coach Linh Nguyen said. "He's had a tough year with injuries and less than ideal training, but he goes out and finishes second in the nation."
Chelimo's National Runner-Up performance marks the second such accomplishment for UNCG this week at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. Fellow Kenyan Paul Katam finished second overall and was a First Team All-America in the 10,000-meter race Thursday night giving the Spartans two First Team All-America honorees in the same championship event for the first time in program history.
Chelimo, who is a two-time NCAA East Regional Champion, posted a time of 13:40.41 to finish in second place overall, trailing only Arizona's Lawi Lalang, who won his sixth career track national championship with a time of 13:35.19. Chelimo's time this year was slightly faster than last season's national runner-up performance when he finished the 2012 championships in a time of 13:41.04.
The race started slowly over the first two laps but quickly picked up the pace as the top tier of runners moved to the front, including Chelimo, Lalang, Arkansas' Kemoy Campbell and Northern Arizona's Diego Estrada who owned the top time for a collegian this season. Chelimo maintained his position in the top five throughout the race and kept within striking distance as Lalang took control of the tempo.
Chelimo entered the final lap third overall as he surpassed Campbell on the second to last lap. He surged in the final lap and blew past Estrada over the final 200 meters to easily claim second place overall. He ended up almost two seconds in front of Estrada as his final lap of the race clocked in at 59.38 seconds, which was the fastest lap by any runner in the race. Estrada finished third overall with a time of 13:42.27 while Maverick Darling of Wisconsin was fourth at 13:44.56.
"Paul knew to go if one of the big names went and that's what happened," Nguyen said. "The pace of Lalang was a little too hot, but Paul hung in tough and fought and fought until he was able to use his speed to lock up the second spot. A lot of people nationally doubted him this year and he just proved them all wrong. The best thing is that both he and Katam will be back next year!"
Chelimo is now a five-time All-America recipient during his career as a Spartan. He has won two First Team All-America honors in outdoor track, one First Team All-America honor in indoor track and two First Team All-America accolades in cross country in his first two seasons at UNCG.
Last season, Chelimo earned First Team All-America honors and finished as the National Runner-Up in the pinnacle race of the season. He finished less than one second out of the top spot as he posted a time of 13:41.04, finishing behind Cameron Levins of Southern Utah (13:40.05).
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