TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Junior Patrick Kimeli finished strong today at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships in 82nd place out of 255 runners with a time of 30:39.4 in the men's 10k race at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
Kimeli is the sixth runner in the last seven years to represent the Islanders at the NCAA Championships.
"Patrick had a good solid race and it was an improvement from last year," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "He put forward a strong effort and it's the kind of progress we are looking for. It was a great way to end the season at the NCAA Championships. He did well and we are really pleased."
Kimeli improved 22 spots from last year and finished second among the five individuals competing out of the South Central Region. He placed in front of Matt Johnsen of Lamar (89th, 30:42.8), Wesley Ruttoh of Houston (130th, 31:01.6) and Daniel Mutai of Louisiana-Monroe (152nd, 31:12.6). Eric Fernandez of Arkansas (38th place, 30:10.4) finished as the top men's runner in the South Central Region.
At the 2k mark, Kimeli clocked a time of 5:47 and at the 5k mark was running with a time of 15:07. With 2k to go Kimeli clocked a time of 24:28 and finished with a time of 30:39.4, improving his 104th-place finish and time of 31:13.2 from a year ago.
"The race went well," Kimeli said. "It was cold and muddy, but I started to pick it up in the middle. I didn't have a kick though, but I'm happy."
The junior has had a successful season and finishing in the top third in the nation, at the highest level, with another year as an Islander left, only bodes for positive things to come.
After clinching the men's 8k individual race at the Southland Championships in Nacogdoches, Texas, Kimeli garnered his second consecutive Southland Male Athlete of the Year award. The native of Eldoret, Kenya, crossed the line with a time of 24:50.6 to clinch his second consecutive individual title.
With the win, Kimeli joined former Islander and current assistant coach Shadrack Songok as the only conference runners to win the Southland cross country 8k event and be named Athlete of the Year in two consecutive years. The junior helped pace the men's team to a third-place finish behind Lamar and UTSA. He also earned a place on the All-Conference team.
Kimeli then went on to qualify for the NCAA National Championships for the second straight year after finishing in seventh place in the men's 10k race at the South Central Regional Championships. At regionals, he crossed the line with a time of 30:55.9 and helped pace the No. 9 South Central Regional ranked men's team to a ninth-place finish, two points behind Stephen F. Austin.
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