BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – UNCG senior runner Paul Chelimo (Chebiemit, Kenya/Chebiemit Boys School) won his third straight Southern Conference Cross Country Championship Saturday morning at Veterans Park in Birmingham, while junior Paul Katam (Eldoret, Kenya/Sacho) placed second in the race for the second straight year. Their showing led the Spartans to a fourth place team finish overall as Furman won the team title with 48 total points.
Chelimo becomes the second straight runner in SoCon history to win three straight individual titles, joining Chattanooga’s Emmanuel Kirwa who won the event from 2007-2009. He posted a time of 24:19.72 to win by almost 15 seconds over Katam and by 55 seconds over his closest non-UNCG competitor, Luis Vargas of Elon.
Chelimo has been named the SoCon Runner of the Year for the third straight season as well, becoming the third person in SoCon history to win the award three times. He joins the likes of Kirwa from Chattanooga and Nic Crider of Chattanooga (1996-98).
Katam picked up his second straight second-place finish in the SoCon Championship race, posting a time of 24:34.52. He beat Vargas of Elon by 18 seconds to earn All-SoCon honors for the second straight year. He has placed in the top four all three years he has competed in the event, as he was fourth as a freshman when he earned SoCon Freshman of the Year accolades.
Junior Dylan Belles (Denver, N.C./East Lincoln) turned in his best career performance in the SoCon Championships, placing eighth overall with a time of 25:24.88. His time was a personal-best, trimming less than a second over his previous top time of 25:25.70 set earlier this year at the Panorama Farms Invitational. His eighth place showing is his highest finish in the SoCon Championship, surpassing his 43rd place showing last year. He earned Second Team All-SoCon honors with his eighth place showing.
Senior Abraham Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kipkabus) finished in a time of 25:58.92 to place 26th overall in his final SoCon Championship race. Senior Tyron Alston (Mebane, N.C./Eastern Alamance) rounded out the Spartans’ top five performers as he finished in a time of 26:35.82 to place 37th overall.
Furman won the SoCon Team Championship with 48 points as its five counting runners all finished in the top 16 led by Tripp Hurt in fourth place with a time of 25:01.56. Appalachian State was second with 63 points, Chattanooga third with 73 and UNCG fourth with 74 points.
UNCG Individual Times
1. Paul Chelimo, 24:19.72
2. Paul Katam, 24:34.52
8. Dylan Belles, 25:24.88
26. Abraham Kemboi, 25:58.92
37: Tyron Alston, 26:35.82
42. Brandon Cain, 26:53.87
45. Josh Crawford, 27:00.74
SoCon Championship Team Standings
1. Furman, 48 points
2. Appalachian State, 63 points
3. Chattanooga, 73 points
4. UNCG, 74 points
5. Davidson, 124 points
6. Samford, 148 points
7. Elon, 167 points
8. Western Carolina, 221 points
9. The Citadel, 269 points
10. Wofford, 282 points.
- UNCG -