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Injury slows sophomore Kemboi at nationals

Job Kemboi was on his way to All-American status at the NCAA Div. II National Cross Country Championships, but an injury got in his way.

Battling a stitch over the final half of last Saturday’s national championships race, Kemboi placed 89th at the national meet in Spokane, Wash.

A stitch is common among runners, and it is described as a sharp, localized twinge of pain just below the rib cage that usually occurs on the right lower abdomen. It has been known to slow some athletes down to a walk until the pain subsides.

Kemboi started strong at the race and was in the top 40 early in the race of almost 250 runners but fell behind after the midway point of the 10K race. He finished with a time of 32:05.9, which was still his second fastest time in the 10K.

The sophomore runner was in the 41st spot after the first 5K, running a split of 15:19.5 in the opening half of the race before being hampered by the stitch.

“Job (Kemboi) gave a valiant effort today in his first NCAA championship,” Lakers head coach Mike Mead said. “He got out strong and was in the Top 40 during the first half of the race, but he developed a bad stitch about the 4-mile mark and ran in survival mode the rest of the way. A Top 100 finish in your first national meet is something he can build on. Despite the stitch, he still ran his second-fastest 10K.”

Kemboi, from Eldoret, Kenya, qualified for the meet as an individual after setting a Clayton State record in the 10K with a time of 31:09.85 at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals earlier this month. He broke former Laker Fidelis Mutiso’s mark by more than four seconds, placing third in the region meet.

The race on Saturday concludes after a marvelous season this fall for Kemboi. He ran three of the fastest 8K times in school history in 2013, including a school record performance of 24:58.29 at the Peach Belt Conference Championships, where he finished third. Before the national meet, Job had finished no worse than third all season and won both the GSW Remembrance Run and the UWG Invitational this season.

The sophomore runner earned both All-Peach Belt and All-Region for the second straight season in 2013.