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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sambu dominates at nationals

The Arizona cross-country team can now boast that they have the second-fastest men’s cross-country runner in the nation.

Stephen Sambu captured the national runner-up Monday during the 2010 NCAA Cross-Country Championships to end his first year at Arizona on a high note.

Sambu wasn’t sure of his chances heading into the meet, saying, “”I am very scared and very happy. There will be a lot of fast competition.””

Sambu eventually lost to Sam Chelanga who runs for Liberty University. Many people assumed that Chelanga would dominate the race, but Sambu was able to stay with him up until the last 400 meters.

“”That guy was so fast. I tried to pull away a few times,”” Sambu said. “”He stayed with me the whole time and then went ahead.””

Sambu crossed the finish line 4.3 seconds after Chelanga. With the finish, Sambu collected the best finish for an Arizona men’s athlete since 1994 when Martin Keino won the national title.

“”I was not expecting to get second place, I was thinking maybe top 10,”” Sambu said. “”I was so happy. Everybody was so happy after the race because no one expected me to get second place.””

After his surprise finish and an outstanding season, Sambu said he has his eyes on the national championship next year.

Looking for a top four finish, the women’s team had to settle for 11th place. The team stayed consistent all year, often crossing the finish line together.

The Wildcats’ consistency helped them on Monday when they finished together in a tight scoring group that allowed them to jump over other teams with irregular finishes.

“”We probably could have done better but that’s probably what anyone would say in any situation,”” head coach James Li said. “”But to come from 30th last year to 11th this year, we’re so proud of them.””

The team was led by Elvin Kibet who finished 51st in scoring position. Kibet was followed closely by Hannah Moen, Megan Meyer and Jennifer Bergman. Those four runners finished within 24 seconds of each other.

The lone senior on the team, Maggie Callahan, scored for the first time this season and in her last collegiate cross-country meet.

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