Samuel Chelanga en route to his second straight NCAA Cross Country title (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
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Chelanga and Reid Prevail at NCAA Cross Country Championships

Terre Haute, USALiberty University senior Samuel Chelanga of Kenya and Villanova senior Sheila Reid of Canada overcame blustering winds to win the men’s and women’s individual titles at the NCAA cross country championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Monday (22). 

Chelanga and Reid each secured the victories in the final homestretch running into headwinds that gusted as high as 20 mph, or 32 kph.

Chelanga sprinted away from Arizona junior Stephen Sambu of Arizona to win the men’s 10,000m race, 29:22.2 to 29:29.6, in the final 400 metres to win for the second year in a row.

Reid pulled away from Georgetown’s Emily Infeld and Jordan Hasay of Oregon to win the women’s 6000m race in the final 200 metros in 20:06.9. Infeld was second in 20:09.2 and Hasay was third in 20:13.0.
Tactical races in strong winds
Chelanga’s time of 29:22.2 was more than 40 seconds slower than his time of 28:41.3 last year. In 2009, Chelanga led from the start to win by 25 seconds. On Monday Chelanga was content to share the lead with Sambu and Luke Puskedra of Oregon through the halfway mark passed in 14:37. The race turned into a duel between Chelanga and Sambu over the final two kilometres.

Chelanga waited until making the final turn onto the quarter mile homestretch directly into the wind before surging away comfortably. Chelanga raised both arms as he approached the finish line and then lifted his right fist in celebration.

“Last year I just ran away with it,” Chelanga said. “I needed something different for this year. The wind and everything made me decide that I can’t run by myself."

In the women’s race, there were more than 50 runners within five seconds of the lead through 3000 metres. Reid, Infeld and Hasay separated themselves from the pack with 1000 metres left and ran side-by-side down the homestretch. Hasay took a small lead before being passed by Reid and Infeld. Reid took control with 200 metres to go over Big East Conference rival Infeld to win her eighth race in 10 starts this fall.

"My last kilometre has been really strong throughout the year, so I knew if it came down to it, I would have enough in the end," Reid said. "I'm really confident in my kick. I knew coming down the home straight how good I felt that I would have something left in me."
Chelanga in elite company
Chelanga is the 10th male runner to win consecutive individual national titles and the first since Wisconsin's Simon Bairu (CAN) in 2004 and 2005. It was also the third title in four years by a Liberty runner with Josh McDougal's victory in 2007.
Villanova women and Oklahoma State men repeat as team champions
The Villanova women and the Oklahoma State men dominated the team competition to defend their tiles.

Villanova, paced by Reid’s victory and the 10th-place finish of senior Amanda Moreno, beat Florida State 120-154. Texas Tech (165) and Georgetown (167) were the only other schools under 200 points in the 31-team field.

It was an unprecedented ninth overall women’s title for Villanova and the seventh time that the Wildcats won both the individual and team titles in the same year.

The Oklahoma State men beat Florida State, 73-193, buoyed by the 7-8-9 finish of Girma Mecheso (29:47), German Fernandez (29:59) and Colby Lowe (29:57). Wisconsin was third with 223 and Stanford was fourth with 237.

Oklahoma State’s margin of victory is the fourth-largest in the history of the NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships and the largest since 2003.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF
Results LINKS -
[Men’s Individual] [Men’s Team]
[Women’s Individual] [Women’s team]