A County Louth native battled frigid temperatures in Iowa to win the men’s 10,000 meter National College Athletic Association cross-country championship. Keith Kelly, a student at Providence College, finished the race in 30 minutes 14.5 seconds in temperatures of 17 degrees with biting winds. “If the race had been 20 meters more,” he told The New York Times, “I wouldn’t have made it to the end. I would have been on the ground.” It is his sixth victory in six races this fall, and it is the first time a runner from Providence College has won this title.
The captain of the Providence men’s track team, Kelly began running competitively in Ireland at age six and hopes to represent Ireland in the 10,000 meter race in the 2004 Olympics.
Kelly chose to come to the U.S. to study because “I wanted to continue running,” he told The Irish Voice. “There was no decent structure to keep running and get an education at the same time in Ireland. The educational system is different over there [in Ireland]. Here you are evaluated many times during the semester, and in Ireland one exam determines your grade. I would have ignored my classes and just concentrated on running.” Kelly is one of several Irish runners competing under the tutelage of Providence coach Ray Treacy, a native of Waterford. Treacy’s active recruiting of Ireland’s finest young athletes has made Providence College extremely competitive at the N.C.A.A. level. This year there are nine Irish runners, six on the men’s squad and three on the women’s. ♦