From ‘City of Champions’ in Kenya, UND is taking Fighting Hawks to new heights in its second year

“My hometown is known as the city of champions,” said Kipkemboi.

Eliud Kipchoge, the world record holder in the marathon, comes from Eldoret, as does the two-time Olympic gold medalist Kipchoge Keino.

Kipkemboi made his hometown proud in his first season at UND this spring.

After winning the Summit League Cross Country title in Western Illinois last weekend, Kipkemboi was officially announced as one of 38 people selected to compete in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, which will take place in Oklahoma on Monday will be held.

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Kipkemboi is the first AND distance runner since Jason Kruger, who finished 71st in 1999 and competed individually in the NCAA Cross Country Championship.

Kipkemboi won the Summit League title on March 5, becoming the first Fighting Hawk to win a Summit League title a week after setting an AND record and on the 5,000-meter indoor track and field championship the Summit League had finished second.

He will only be the third Summit League runner since 2012 to compete in the NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championship. In addition, Kipkemboi will be the first person from any North Dakota institution to compete in the NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championship.

The men’s 10K race, held on the Oklahoma state track, starts at 12:40 p.m. on Monday.
The race can be seen on ESPNU or on an ESPN online stream.

As a freshman, Kipkemboi joined Lubbock Christian and finished 11th in the Cross Country Championship of the NCAA Division II South Central Region.

“The reason I chose AND was because I found my major here and wanted a Division I competition,” said Kipkemboi. “I went to a Division II school and found that the competition wasn’t as high as it was in Division I.

“I like my (AND) teammates and coaches and everything, regardless of the weather and snow.”

The 25-year-old Kipkemboi came to the United States in 2019.

“It was interesting,” he said of his time at Grand Forks. “I’ve been making progress and in good shape since I went to my first meeting, just as I was before I came to the US.”

AND athletics / cross country trainer Christine Engel said Kipkemboi had improved a lot during his year at UND.

“He had a nice transition to university,” she said. “He’s got into the team pretty well. He’s super optimistic and has an incredible work ethic. He’s super respectful and has big goals.”

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