Both Goshen College outdoor track & field teams returned with an All-American from the 2023 NAIA National Championships. The meet was held in Marion, Indiana, at the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University from May 24-26. On Wednesday night, Nelson Kemboi placed fifth and was an All-American in the men’s 10,000-meter final. Mercy Chebet earned her All-American status after finishing seventh in the women’s 5,000-meter final on Friday evening.
Kemboi was among the top eight runners through the entire second half of the 10,000 meters race – which only had a final and no semifinal races. He finished fifth out of 33, with four of his five best lap times coming within the last eight laps. Since there were no semifinal races beforehand, he became an All-American with his top-eight finish. His time of 30:39.12 was within a second of Ryan Smith’s school record set in 2017, but Kemboi crushed his season-best of 31:18.20. He became the first runner in program history to be an All-American in the men’s outdoor 10,000 meters. This is Kemboi’s fifth All-American title but first in outdoor track & field. He previously has three in cross country and one in indoor track & field.
Going into the meet, Chebet had the 19th fastest time out of the 20 competitors in the two heats of races for the women’s 5,000 meters. She comfortably stayed in the back of the pack in her heat of ten runners, mostly between eighth and tenth place. She was still in eighth with a lap to go but ran a 1:18.00 in the final lap and surged to the front in the last 200 meters to win the race. Her other laps were all between 1:24.41 and 1:27.53. On Friday, Chebet placed seventh out of 16 runners in the final. For the first third of the race, she hung between 11th and 14th place while running between a minute and 24 seconds and a minute and 26 seconds each lap. Then she moved up to be the sixth or seventh place runner for the rest of the race and finished in seventh. This was just Chebet’s third race in the event – her first was when she qualified for nationals, and her second was the semifinal race on Thursday. Her final time of 17:33.40 was a personal best and just over six seconds from the school record set in 2006. Chebet is Goshen’s first All-American in the women’s outdoor 5,000 meters since Petrana Petkova in 2007.
The women’s 4×800-meter relay team finished third with a 9:20.50 time in their heat of the semifinals, less than two seconds from their school record time set this season. However, only the top two teams from each heat automatically advanced to the finals. The following three best times would also advance, and after two heats, Goshen had the second-best time. With the team on pins and needles as the runners from the third and final heat came through, the Leafs topped the fourth-place team in the heat by 0.21 seconds to earn the third and final spot in the finals. They finished ninth in the final, led by an even 2:22.00 from Mia Wellington in the second leg of the race and a 2:20.38 from Summer Cooper as the anchor. Annika Alderfer Fisher ran a 2:23.90 split, and Mercy Chebet was at 2:24.14. They were just one spot away from being All-Americans.
The men’s 4×800 team of Kevin Liddell, Anthony Roberts, Jordan Garlinger and Drew Hogan finished 15th overall among the semifinal heats for their event. Mady Axsom tied for 12th in the high jump finals, Samuel Stoner-Eby was 13th in the 400-meter semifinals, Summer Cooper landed in 18th in the 1,500-meter semifinals, and Mia Wellington came in 22nd in the steeplechase semifinals. With Goshen’s events ending, the Maple Leafs have concluded their 2022-23 athletic season. Visit goleafs.net for updates throughout the summer as teams prepare for the upcoming fall season.