TERRE HAUTE, Ind. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga distance runner Chris Berry (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) wrapped up the 2011 cross country season Monday at the NCAA National Championships at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., with a 188th overall finish.
"Chris ran a great race," UTC head coach Bill Gautier said. "He ran hard and finished out eighth or ninth out of the runners in our region. I'm really proud of the effort he gave this year and his toughness."
Berry, a four-time All-Conference performer in the Southern Conference and the 2007 SoCon Freshman of the Year, earned back-to-back all-region honors and with his eighth place finish this year at the NCAA South Region, his first qualification for the national championships.
He is the 12th UTC individual to qualify for the National Championship and just the fifth men's runner.
Berry's 2K split time was 5:58 with the runners still close together. By the 5K split time, the lead pack had pushed forward and Berry's time 15:32. At 8K, his time was 25:14 with just 2 kilometers left to run.
"When you give your all to get here, you sometimes don't have anything left to give," Gautier said. "Chris started the year injured and just when he got healthy, someone ran a red light and he was hit while he was training."
Despite scrapes and bruises from the hard brush with the car, Berry continued to run and led his team in every race this season. He placed fifth in the Southern Conference meet and followed that up with a strong eighth place finish in the South Region meet.
Berry's now looks forward to the upcoming track season where he is a two-time champion in the 5000 meter and the 10,000 meter runs. However, before training begins for track, he and women's track senior Tara Gietema (Knoxville, Tenn.) will get married this weekend.
Both have earned their undergraduate degrees and are currently working towards their MBA's. Berry is on track to graduate in May.
Arizona's Lawi Lalang won the men's individual title outdistancing the field about halfway through with a time of 28:44.1. UNC Greensboro's Paul Chelimo was 13th in the race and is the Spartan to earn All-American honors in cross country. The Wisconsin men unseated defending champion Oklahoma State by a score of 97 to the Cowboy's 139. Colorado was third with a score of 144 followed by BYU with 203 points.