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Going the Distance

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Weini Kelati appeared in the October 6, 2014, edition of FACES IN THE CROWD for winning the 5K Oatlands Invitational by 32 seconds in 18:12 as a high school freshman—despite stopping twice to tie her shoelaces. She had recently moved to Leesburg, Va., after gaining asylum from Eritrea. Kelati earned three state and four national titles at Heritage High before graduating and moving on to New Mexico. Last month, as a sophomore, she struck gold at the NCAAs in the 10,000 meters, holding off Oregon's Carmela Cardama Baez by .72 of a second in a final-lap sprint. Kelati's journey from refugee to champion has been more than she could have imagined. "I never expected that I would be a college runner," she says. "All the people that give me love and support, it makes me work hard to get what I want."