5,000m Recaps: Unheralded Leonard Korir Storms To NCAA Meet Record, Jackie Areson Impresses, Mia Behm Surprises Everyone

By: LetsRun.com
March 11, 2011

Men's 5,000m: Leonard Korir Wins A Barnburner And Breaks NCAA Meet Record In Process

The men's 5,000m was the first men's distance final of the 2011 Championships and it set the tone for what is shaping up to be an incredible distance meet as three men would break the previous NCAA meet record 13:28.93, set by Alistair Cragg 8 years ago.

The pace was fast from the start thanks to XC champ Sam Chelanga's opening 1,600 of 4:17.6. Chelanga, who has never won an NCAA title indoors or at a distance besides 10,000m, clearly believed a fast pace was his ticket to victory.

Chelanga led until the halfway point, when cross-country runner-up Stephen Sambu of Arizona took over the lead. 3,200m was reached in 8:39-flat with Chelanga back in front. A lap later, with 1,600 to go (9:13.4), NAU's Diego Estrada was in front, with Sambu, Chelanga, Korir, and Stanford's Elliott Heath in contention.

Despite the fast pace, things would only get faster on the way home. Heath was the first to crack, and with 800m (11:23.91 Chelanga) to go, it was a 4-man race. Korir then went to the front and continued to push to little effect. With 400m to go, the top 4 were still only three quarters of a second apart. A 30.35 on the next lap by Korir was enough to drop Estrada at the bell, but Chelanga was right there with Sambu just a little further back. Which of these three stars would come out on top?

It was no contest on the final lap. The unheralded Korir scorched the final circuit in a blistering 27.35 to get his first NCAA title in style. He was even able to put up his arm and celebrate in the home straight. Chelanga, despite running under the old NCAA meet record and closing in 28.3, was well-beaten but a clear second and third was Sambu, also under the old MR. Diego Estrada, despite going sub-13:30, was only 4th. The top marks continued down the line. Elliott Heath was fifth, Kevin Schwab sixth, Maverick Darling 7th, and Chris Derrick in 13:37 had his lowest NCAA finish ever in 8th. The only senior in the top 8 was Chelanga.

Afterwards, we talked to Korir, Chelanga and Derrick. Korir's transformation the last year has been pretty amazing. Korir struggled in adjusting to American college life and his best time last year was a 14:43 5k. This year, he's been fourth at NCAA XC and now beat the fastest field ever at NCAA indoors in the 5k. He said coming in that he was not focused on winning, but when in contention with a few laps to go, to give it his best effort. He said, "I was just (hoping) to get position two or three but I saw that nobody was coming after me, so I was like, 'Why don't I win this thing?'"

Sam Chelanga was frustrated afterwards as once again he was left wondering what it takes for him to win at an NCAA distance shorter than 10k. He believed a fast pace was his best way to win, but said perhaps he went too fast as he didn't have enough left for the kick. Chelanga did not seem too enthusiastic about running the 3,000m on Saturday, but by the end of our interview his spirits had lifted a bit.

Derrick has come back from injury this winter and was disappointed with his lowest NCAA finish ever - 8th, but pleased with his time (13:37), as he barely qualified for the meet.

1 Leonard Korir JR Iona 13:26.01   10       
 2 Sam Chelanga SR Liberty 13:27.34        
 3 Stephen Sambu JR Arizona 13:28.48          
 4 Diego Estrada SO Northern Arizona 13:29.01          
 5 Elliott Heath JR Stanford 13:34.54          
 6 Kevin Schwab SO Oklahoma 13:36.14          
 7 Maverick Darling SO Wisconsin 13:36.65          
 8 Chris Derrick SO Stanford 13:36.87          
 9 Andrew Poore JR Indiana 13:37.03            
 10 Ben Hubers JR Indiana 13:40.73            
 11 Mohammed Ahmed SO Wisconsin 13:41.74            
 12 George Alex JR Oklahoma 13:46.57            
 13 David Adams SR Nebraska 13:56.26            
 14 Luke Puskedra JR Oregon 14:02.26            
 15 Miles Unterreiner JR Stanford 14:33.69            
 DNF Mohamud Ige SR Arizona              
*Lap-By-Lap Splits

The Champ Leonard Korir

Sam Chelanga Runner Up

Chris Derrick 8th Place

Women's 5,000m: UT's Jackie Areson Runs Away from Field Last 700m, Other UT's Mia Behm Surprised Everyone, Including Herself, In 2nd

Looking at the results, you probably wouldn't realize it, but ten women were in contention in the women's 5,000m with a half mile to go on Friday night.

Then pre-race favorite, Tennessee's Jackie Areson threw down the hammer and destroyed the field the final 700m to win convincingly. Wearing tall black socks, Areson won by nearly 4.5 seconds in her final NCAA meet to go out in style (she doesn't not have outdoor eligibility left, but is running the 3,000m on Saturday).

Coming in second behind Areson with the fastest final lap in the field was University of Texas' Mia Behm. Areson's win may have been expected, but Behm's runner-up finish was a complete shocker, even to herself. When she first crossed the finish line, she asked her coach if she finished third. In fact, she had done one better. Behm may have been totally shocked because in her last meet, the Big 12 Championships, she was 7th in the 5k and 17th in the 3,000m. Now, unbelievably, in her home state, she was second best in the nation. A true breakthrough performance.

Betsy Saina, the Big 12 Champion, was third, Anna Nosenko of Wake Forest was fourth, and Areson's teammate, Liz Costello (formerly of Princeton) was fifth.

Afterwards, Behm, a 10:56 2 miler in high school, was pretty excited with her finish. She said with a huge smile, "I feel like they calculated the results wrong. Like I didn't run the right amount of laps. (Maybe) They miscounted some girls ahead of me. I don't know ..."

Areson meanwhile had been expected to win, but was happy to have delivered and to go out on top. She said, "It's been my goal for a year. Focusing on this one race is pretty much what I've been doing for the last year."

On The Boards: LEONARD MF KORIR!!!
*5k Play-By-Play

1 Jackie Areson SR Tennessee 16:04.16     10       
 2 Mia Behm JR Texas 16:08.56          
 3 Betsy Saina SO Iowa State 16:09.12          
 4 Anna Nosenko SR Wake Forest 16:10.56          
 5 Liz Costello SR Tennessee 16:11.06          
 6 Katie Matthews JR Boston U. 16:13.21          
 7 Risper Kimaiyo JR UTEP 16:13.55          
 8 Aliphine Tuliamuk SO Wichita State 16:14.38          
 9 Pasca Cheruiyot SR Florida State 16:18.11            
 10 Ruth Senior JR New Mexico 16:18.38            
 11 Corey Conner JR Maine 16:21.61            
 12 Holly Knight JR Auburn 16:22.14            
 13 Tonya Nero SR Wichita State 16:26.42            
 14 Natalie Gray JR New Mexico 16:44.36            
 DNF Holly Van Dalen JR Stony Brook              
 DNS Ari Fisher JR Toledo
  Splits    
 

Jackie Areson After Her NCAA 5,000m Title

The Surprise Runner-Up Mia Behm


*LRC Day 1 NCAA Coverage: *5,000m Recaps: Unheralded Leonard Korir Storms To NCAA Meet Record, Jackie Areson Impresses, Mia Behm Surprises Everyone
*NCAA Day 1: DMR: Villanova's Reid Outkicks Oregon's Hasay, BYU's Miles Batty Holds Off Incredible 3:53 Anchor From Andy Bayer (video of last laps)
*Recap Of Mile Heats From Day 1 Of 2011 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
*Recap Of 800 Heats From Day 1 Of 2011 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships

*Day 1 Photos

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