From Staff Reports
Three years ago, Fidelis Mutiso set foot on the Clayton State campus with two goals in mind - earn his degree and earn NCAA Division II All-American honors in men's cross country.
During this time, Mutiso has produced tremendously both in the classroom and on the cross country course. This weekend, he gets the final opportunity to realize a goal when he competes in the NCAA Division II Men's Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The men's race takes place at 11 a.m. CST at Louisville's E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park.
"I've had a great experience here at Clayton State," said Mutiso, a native of Nairobi, Kenya. "I'm so grateful for the opportunity here. These last three seasons have been wonderful. I just want to finish this season on a strong note."
Garnering NCAA Division II All-American honors would be the final icing on the cake for a tremendous career. Mutiso had the opportunity last season when he competed in the NCAA Division II National Championships in Evansville, Ind. He finished 82nd overall with a time of 33:25.1 in the 10K event.
To earn Division II All-American honors, Mutiso needs to finish in the Top 40 overall. However, according to Clayton State head coach Mike Mead, that is a great possibility if Mutiso equals his time set in the recent NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals. In that race, Mutiso finished eighth overall with a time of 31:14.1.
Mead says the courses at both the regional and national meets are very similar, which should bode well for Mutiso's chances. He would become Clayton State's first ever All-American in men's cross country.
"I believe Fidelis can make All-American if he can duplicate his region race," said Mead. "Unlike last season, our region and national courses are fairly similar. They are fast!"
"It will depend upon course conditions and the weather on how well he'll make out. I think he has an excellent chance!"
Unlike previous off-seasons when he stayed in the United States, Mutiso returned home to Kenya this past summer to train. Because of that, he has improved his times considerably this season, setting the Clayton State four-mile and 10K marks and posting the second-fastest 8K time in Clayton State history.
This season, he garnered All-Peach Belt Conference and Division II All-Southeast Region honors for a second straight season, while winning two races in the process. For his career, Mutiso has posted four career victories and was the 2009 Peach Belt Conference co-Runner of the Year.
"Fidelis has had a fantastic cross country season this year," Mead said. "He ran with more determination and was more focused in his approach to practice and racing than his previous two seasons with us."