MARION, Ind. -- Rocky Mountain College’s Noah Kiprono took off running Saturday morning at the NAIA Track & Field Championships and didn’t stop until he had achieved All-America status.
The 25-year-old Kiprono finished third in the 26.2-mile marathon, completing the course in a school-record and personal-best clocking of two hours, 29 minutes and 19.40 seconds.
By finishing in the top eight on the cool, cloudy morning, he became Rocky’s first male All-America performer in outdoor track since the program was revived six years ago.
"It was exciting to watch," Rocky coach Alan King said. "He just ran a great race, a smart race. He knew what he had to do and went out and accomplished it.
"I was pretty confident by mile 20 he was going to be at least third."
This was Kiprono's third appearance in the marathon at nationals, with two other top 10 finishes. His previous personal time was 2:33.08.
Senior Nathan Martin of Michigan’s Spring Arbor University won the men’s marathon in a staggering meet record time of 2:19:18.70. The previous NAIA record of 2:21:08.22 was established in 1985.
Nic Penning of Dakota State, S.D., was second to Martin at 2:27:30.90.
King said that Kiprono, who was clicking off miles at a consistent 5:40 pace, was "within striking distance" of second-place Penning late in the race, but "just couldn't quite reel him in."
There were 46 finishers.
Kiprono is a 140-pound senior from Nairobi, Kenya. However, he is eligible to compete in cross country and outdoor track again this coming school year at Rocky.
"It's definitely something we've discussed," King said of Kiprono attempting to qualify for the marathon again in 2014. "We're going to go for the win next year."
In the women’s marathon, Rocky’s Megan Breeding placed 34th out of 41 finishers with a school-record time of 3:28:14.40. Breeding, a senior from Kimberly, Idaho, was running in her first marathon.
Senior Monika Kalicinska of Oklahoma’s St. Gregory’s University won the race at 2:50:52.70.
The men’s and women’s marathon runners had to meet time standards in the half-marathon during the season to qualify for nationals.
On Saturday afternoon, Rocky junior Ana Richter placed 10th out of the 14 finalists in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The 2010 Billings Skyview graduate finished with a time of 11:13.14.
Junior Sora Klopfenstein of the College of Idaho was first at 10:35.58. Sophomore Rhianna Grossman of Carroll College was third at 10:47.19.
Richter, who missed last year's outdoor season with an ankle injury, had run a personal-best and school-record time of 11:11.82 during Thursday’s preliminaries. She was an All-America miler for the Bears during the past indoor season.
The three-day national championships, held at Indiana Wesleyan University, wrapped up on Saturday.