Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Jayhawks’ Chesang chases third crown

Kenyan would be first KU runner to do so

October 27, 2006

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Benson Chesang today will try to become the first Kansas University runner to win three consecutive league cross country titles.

Al Frame claimed back-to-back Big Seven CC crowns in 1954-55.

"I would like to win. I am not saying I will shoot myself if I don't," said Chesang, KU's soft-spoken running machine from Eldama Ravine, Kenya.

"I never get nervous. It's just like any other race. It's the Big 12, but I don't get nervous," added Chesang, who won last year's crown in Waco, Texas, clipping Joe Thome of Texas by three seconds in the 8,000-meter run.

In 2004, Chesang beat Brent Vaughn of Colorado by just over a second at the race held by Kansas State in Topeka.

Chesang is coming off a 30th-place finish at the NCAA pre-nationals.

"I would say so," Chesang said, asked if his third Big 12 title would be his sweetest since it will be run at KU's home course, Rim Rock Farm.

The men's race will begin at 11 a.m., following the women's run at 10.

"The strategy will be just like previous years. Sit back there, wait and make my move when I feel like it. It would be nice to have a good crowd," he added. "But it's not like, if they are not there, it would hinder my performance. It would be nice to have them around, boost your ego a bit."

Chesang, who calls Rim Rock "one of the top courses in the country," said he didn't feel like he was the one runner to beat.

"I don't know how to answer that," he said. "Right now I'm just looking into helping the team. We'll see how I perform."

The Jayhawks, who are ranked 19th in the country, are hoping for a second straight berth at the NCAAs, where KU finished 12th a year ago.

A strong performance by Chesang today and at regionals would help the Jayhawks reach their goals. Colorado's men enter today's meet having won all 10 titles in Big 12 history. The CU women have won nine of 10; Kansas State was the only other women's team champion.

"I think Benson is as talented as anyone," KU coach Stanley Redwine said. "He wants to be the best. His best quality is his desire. He believes in himself. He loves the competition."

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