NEW YORK, N.Y. – There will be a familiar face in this week's Sports Illustrated for the fans of Spartan athletics as USC Upstate cross country athlete, Gilbert Kemboi, has been recognized as one the features in the magazine's "Faces In The Crowd" segment.
"It is a big accomplishment and I am very happy about the recognition," said Kemboi. "I hope that this will help me to go for big things later on in this season."
As for what it means for his teammates, Kemboi said, "It will be a challenge for them when people are recognizing our program; a challenge to also work hard to get our program on the map of Division I cross country programs."
As for buying a million copies of Sports Illustrated this week? "One, I'll just buy one," says Kemboi.
Kemboi is the first current Upstate athlete that has received the recognition in the University's Division I era, and will be in this week's issue, dated Oct. 4, which has Boise State on the cover.
"This is great for Gilbert and our program," said assistant cross country coach Carson Blackwelder. "Gilbert is a great guy and athlete, it is good to see he is getting well deserved recognition."
The sophomore, from Eldoret, Kenya, started the 2010 cross country season in remarkable fashion on September 4, cruising to a first-place finish among 188 competitors at the Eye Opener Invitational in a time of 24:13, establishing a meet record and shattering the time he had set just a year ago.
The 2009 Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, Kemboi, now owns back-to-back Eye Opener titles at the Milliken Research Park, which is set to host the 2010 A-Sun Cross Country Championships on October 30.
Not one to rest on a win, Kemboi took first once again at the Clemson Invitational on September 17, winning his second race in as many showings en route to breaking another school record in 23:58.79.
On the 2010 season, Kemboi has been recognized by the Atlantic Sun Conference as the Male Runner of the Week on September 8, his first of the season, and the fourth time in his short collegiate career.
"Gilbert is an amazing young man," said head cross country coach Jimmy Stephens. "There are so many great things I can say about him not only as an athlete but also as a person. He is a great leader and teammate and his work ethic and drive has improved everyone on our team.
"Gilbert is one of the best sophomore distance runners in the nation and has really helped our program move forward. Our goal is to be competitive on a National level at Division I and Gilbert has helped us take that step to achieve our goal. His personality is infectious and his character is beyond reproach. We are very fortunate to have him at Upstate and I feel blessed to have him in my life."
The Spartans will be in competition this weekend at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky. The racing is set to begin on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Kemboi can be found on the Sports Illustrated website HERE.
Another Spartan to watch out for: Hannah Alexander, a pitcher for Upstate's softball program, who was recognized by Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd" after leading North Davidson High School to the North Carolina 4A State Championship and a No. 1 national ranking by USA Today/NFCA- HERE.