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Archive for Monday, November 24, 2003

Kansas’ Chesang excited about opportunity

November 24, 2003

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Kansas University cross-country runner Benson Chesang doesn't like to talk about himself, but he's the only Jayhawk who still is running.

Chesang is KU's lone participant in today's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

"I'm very excited to go down there," said Chesang, a freshman from Kenya, who qualified based on his performance in the Midwest Regional championships. Chesang finished the 10k race in a time of 30:41 and placed second overall.

"With it being my first year of running cross country, I'm trying to just go and run a good race," Chesang said. "My goal is to make the top 30 and be an All-American."

Chesang, who participated last spring in the Jayhawk track and field program and won the 10,000 meters at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, has led KU's men all season. That kind of leadership leads KU coach Stanley Redwine to believe that a high finish definitely is not out of the question.

"I don't want to put any expectations on him," Redwine said. "You're talking about a freshman going to the NCAA championships for the first time, but obviously the guy is very competitive."

While that kind of intensity has led him to be the Jayhawks leading placer all season, Redwine said that his standout runner's sense of humor has allowed him to keep his success in perspective.

"The energy Benson has brought as an individual has been really good for our team," Redwine said. "The other guys look up to him in every aspect. He's a great guy and joy to be around."

While KU's men's team won't be there to help Chesang, there will be one very familiar face running beside him -- his brother, Mathew Chesang, who competes for Kansas State.

"We'll try to run together a little bit and help each other out," Benson Chesang said.

One thing the pair won't do is trade verbal jabs.

"No man, we're brothers -- we don't talk trash," Chesang said. "No jokes, all business."

Northern Iowa University will play host to the national meet. The men's race will begin at 11 a.m. followed by the women's race at 12:15 p.m.

Chesang is familiar with the 8k NIU course, having raced there at the Pre-Nationals Invitational Oct. 18, finishing 19th in a time of 24:03.

"It feels great that I was able to qualify for Nationals," Chesang said. "I am really looking forward to it."

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