Redshirt junior Matt Llano earned All-America honors Thursday night in the 2010 NCAA National Track and Field Championship hosted by the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.
Llano's time of 29:10.27 in the 10,000-meter dash placed him ninth in a field of the nation's top-24 collegiate distance runners. He was the first University of Richmond distance runner to compete in the NCAA championship event since 1978.
Llano, from Arnold, Md., won the Atlantic 10 Conference championship with a record time of 29:43.12 He earned a berth in the championship field by finishing fourth at the NCAA East Regional.
Llano ran the first half of the race in 14:46 and improved his time to 14:23 in the second half, but still had mixed feelings about his finish.
"I finished a half second out of eighth place, and one-point-one seconds of seventh place," Llano said. A top eight finish would have secured Llano a place on the championship podium.
"I'm glad I have another year to improve on my finish," he said. "It gives me that much more motivation."
Llano admitted that the slow start to the race was not ideal for him.
"The way I prefer to run a race is to have a fast consistent pace," he said. "It would have been nice to get out there and run nice even splits, but the reality is a championship race is never going to be like that."
Steve Taylor, head coach of the University of Richmond men's track and field team, noted the physicality of an NCAA championship race as one of the biggest obstacles for a runner. Llano suffered spike cuts on his shins and quads from competitors running so close and fighting for position.
"It was his incredible talent and work ethic that allowed him to do so well," Taylor said.
Taylor said that Llano's experience in the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships was also a contributing factor to his success.
"Matt has matured incredibly over the last two years," Taylor said. "He was impatient his first two years of college. He made mistakes, but he's learned from them."
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Taylor said that great runners always look back for ways they could have done better, and Llano is no exception.
"He's one of the best in the country," Taylor said. "He's put our program on the national stage."
Llano will spend the remainder of the summer training before returning to the University of Richmond on Aug. 15 to prepare for the cross country season.
Contact Collegian reporter Zak Kozuchowski at email@example.com
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