The University of Alabama standout is a two-time NCAA champion and school record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., August 3, 2023 – HOKA Northern Arizona Elite announced today that the team has added Mercy Chelangat to its roster. Chelangat, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Alabama, was one of the top collegiate distance runners for the last several years—ending her career at Alabama with a third-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships earlier this summer.

Chelangat, who was born and raised in Kericho, Kenya, came to the United States in 2018 to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, Texas. After spending her freshman year competing for the UTRGV cross country and track teams, she transferred to Alabama in 2019 and made an immediate impact for the Crimson Tide. She was the SEC cross country champion in the fall of 2020 before winning the NCAA Championships—held in the spring of 2021. A little over a year later, she added a title on the track as well when she won the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. All told, Chelangat was a ten-time NCAA first team All-American, an eight-time SEC champion, and leaves Alabama as the school record holder at 5,000 meters (15:17.28) and 10,000 meters (31:55.80).

She will join an NAZ Elite roster on the women’s side that includes several other recent NCAA graduates including Krissy Gear, Abby Nichols and Katie Wasserman. During the 2023 track season, Wasserman set personal bests of 8:49.65 for 3,000 meters and 15:13.81 for 5,000 meters. Nichols set team records at 3,000 meters (8:48.58), 1500 meters (4:07.47) and the mile (4:26.08). While Gear, who competed against Chelangat many times in college while at the University of Arkansas, was the U.S. champion in the steeplechase and will compete later this month at the World Track and Field Championships.

Chelangat said she was excited to join the team and get going.

“I chose HOKA NAZ Elite because it just felt right during my visit,” Chelangat said. “Everyone was super friendly and made me feel right at home. I love that the team has a number of amazing and very experienced runners who I look forward to learning from. I’m excited and eager to start contributing to NAZ Elite’s rich tradition as I continue growing as a long distance runner.”

HOKA NAZ Elite’s interim head coach, Jenna Wrieden, said she was thrilled to add Chelangat, a two-time NCAA champion, to the NAZ roster.

“Not only is Mercy another high-caliber athlete, but she has the heart of a champion and the drive to match,” Wrieden said. “She is such a positive addition to the culture of our group.”

Chelangat received a degree in public health from the University of Alabama and added a minor in communication studies this summer. She will visit family members in Colorado this month before moving to Flagstaff in September. Her first race representing HOKA NAZ Elite will likely be on the roads in early October.

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