Four-time national champion Micah Chelimo suffered a season-ending injury during the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference track and field championships in Oregon.
The UAA senior from Kenya will need surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon he injured after clearing the race's water hazard, head coach Michael Friess said by cellphone. This marks Chelimo's final meet for UAA as it's too late for him to redshirt.
Friess said Chelimo cleared the barrier and landed cleanly, then he fell and had to be carried off the track.
"It was just kind of a freaky thing," Friess said. "He just kind of landed and that was it.
"With those types of injuries there's no warning," Friess said.
While Chelimo hasn't had an issue with his Achilles or the steeplechase in the past, it's an event that causes concern for Friess every time one of his athletes competes in it.
"I'm always squeamish in the steeplechase," he said.
Chelimo, who was moving around on crutches Friday night, was just 14 points shy of becoming the highest scoring man in GNAC championship history. He currently owns the top NCAA Division II times in both the 5,000 meters and 10,000 and is fifth among all collegians in the latter.
Chelimo, who recently became the third person in history to be named UAA's top athlete twice, won four national titles -- two indoor track and field championships, the 3,000 meters this year and last year's 5,000, and two titles in 2012, an outdoor 5,000-meter title and a cross country championship.
Those incredible athletic accomplishments will outweigh the unfortunate end to Chelimo's career, Friess said.
"This part won't be much of a blip in our memory bank," he said.
Chelimo was slated to compete in the 1,500 meters and 5,000 at the GNAC championships, where UAA was in fourth place in both the men and women's team standings Friday.
UAA's men swept the 10,000 meters led by Victor Samoei, who finished first in 31 minutes, 14.59 seconds. He edged teammate Dylan Anthony by five-hundredths of a second and Dominik Notz took third in 31:15.39.
Joyce Kipchumba won the women's 10,000 in 35:43.38. Bryn Haebe (third in 3,000 steeplechase) and Karolin Anders (third in long jump) also reached the podium for UAA.
In preliminary action, Jamie Ashcroft had the fastest times in the 100-meter dash (12.34 seconds) and 200 (25.2). The GNAC championships continue Saturday.
Reach Mike Nesper at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By MIKE NESPER