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The senior will compete in the mile and 5,000M at the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend

Written by Taylor Wilson, Texas Tech Media Relations
March 13, 2009

LUBBOCK, Texas – Senior Sally Kipyego will finish her college career at Texas Tech this next week as the most-decorated athlete in school history and arguably the greatest distance runner in NCAA history.

A sport that has seen such greats as Vicki Huber (Villanova), Suzy Favor Hamilton (Wisconsin) and Kim Smith (Providence), can now add Kipyego to the top of the ranks.

  Kipyego, who is majoring in nursing, finished her college cross-country career with one of her school's most impressive athletic records ever. She went undefeated in her three years at Texas Tech and is the most decorated female student-athlete in NCAA Division I cross-country history.

Kipyego has placed herself among the top female collegiate runners in the history of the sport in such a short period of time. She began her career at Tech just two and a half years ago and now ranks among the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen. She has been a huge contribution to Tech athletics as this past fall Kipyego led the Red Raiders to their first-ever regional and conference championship.

Kipyego is a ten-time All-American, second only to Favor Hamilton who boasts 14 All-America honors.

Kipyego is an eight-time NCAA Champion, placing her in a tie for second all-time with Huber. Only Favor Hamilton has collected more, with nine NCAA Championships. Smith won just four NCAA titles.

The United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named Kipyego the 2008 Division I Women’s Cross Country National Athlete of the Year after winning her third-straight NCAA Cross Country Championship. Kipyego became the first woman to win three NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, when she ran a time of 19:29 to set the championship and course record last year in Terre Haute, Ind.

She is a three-time USTFCCCA Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year. In 2008, the honor became Kipyego's third-straight Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year and her third-straight USTFCCCA honor for track or cross country. She also swept the 2008 indoor track, outdoor track and cross country awards.

Kipyego is currently the NCAA record holder in the indoor 3,000M (8:48.77) and the outdoor 10,000M (31:25.45). In the history of collegiate distance runners, her two NCAA records tie her at the top with Smith and Huber. Favor Hamilton holds only one NCAA record.

From 2006-2008 Kipyego was a three-time Mountain Regional Champion and was named the Mountain Regional Female Athlete of the Year.
The Kenyan native is 12-time Big 12 Conference Champion with titles in cross country, indoor mile, indoor 3,000M, outdoor 1,500M and outdoor 5,000M. Kipyego is a two-time Big 12 Conference Female Athlete of the Year. She ranks third in the history of top-female collegiate runners behind Favor Hamilton who leads with 23 Conference Championships (Big Ten) and Huber who has 17 Conference Championships (Big East).

In 2008, Kipyego was named the Honda Award winner as the top woman in cross country. The eight-time NCAA Champion became the first in the history of the Collegiate Women Sports Award to win three-straight awards in cross country. Huber won the cross-country award once and the track & field award twice and Favor Hamilton brought home the award once in 1990. In 33 years, only seven other athletes besides Kipyego and Huber have ever won the Honda Sports Award three times.

This year Kipyego is on pace to end her career with even more records and accomplishments. She has qualified for the mile, 3,000M and 5,000M at the NCAA Championships, running a personal-best and school record time of 4:27.19.

Just a few weeks ago Kipyego put on an NCAA record-breaking performance at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. The All-American ran an 8:48.77 in the 3,000M breaking the previous NCAA record of 8:49.28 set by Smith in 2004. The time is a personal-best, school-record time and the second fastest in the world. She finished second to 2008 Olympian Kara Goucher by only two seconds.

After such a decorated collegiate career, Kipyego will be compared to some the of the greatest women athletes the sport as ever seen. She has accomplished what many could argue the best collegiate career by any female athlete.

Kipyego will look to continue her dominance, as she will compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13-14.


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