RISA FOUNDER, DAVID CHEROMEI " COACH ZION"
David Cheromei served as head cross country/track & field coach at Emory & Henry College. He will manage all aspects of the cross country and track & field programs. A native of Eldoret, Kenya, Cheromei - also known as Coach Zion. Cheromei recently served as an assistant cross country and track & field coach at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Cheromei was responsible for creating the training program for both teams. He also assisted with day-to-day operations including academic advising for both squads. David Cheromei will serve as an assistant cross country and track & field coach for the second season in 2015-16.
Cheromei, who primarily coached the men's distance runners, oversaw the development of a youthful squad in 2014-15. Titus Koech placed fourth at the Big South Cross Country Championships and 28th at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships as a freshman. Cheromei previously served as Liberty's cross country/track & field graduate assistant between 2007-09. During that time, Josh McDougal became the Flames' first NCAA Division I men's cross country national champion in 2007 and Sam Chelanga earned the first three All-America honors of his tenure at Liberty. Since then, the native of Eldoret, Kenya founded and has been operating the Grace of God Children's Project, along with his wife, Laurel. The non-profit organization provides education, spiritual teaching and basic needs for orphans and needy children in Kenya. The project is currently providing care and education for 17 children in Eldoret. Cheromei’s own competitive career was highlighted by receiving an invitation to compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2008 Kenya Olympic Trials, thanks to a personal-best time of 8:21 that summer. Cheromei finished in the top 20 of an event in which Kenyan athletes have won the gold medal at each of the last eight Olympic Games.
Cheromei won 10 NAIA national titles at Virginia Intermont, including three straight championships in his specialty, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He became the third runner in the history of the NAIA meet to capture three consecutive steeplechase crowns and set a meet record (8:40.03) as a senior in 2007.
Cheromei also won the 5,000-meter championship at the 2006 and 2007 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, earning the meet's Outstanding Performer honor both seasons. Cheromei was a part of a Virginia Intermont men's cross country squad which won three straight NAIA national team titles (2004-06). He was the individual national champion in 2006.Indoors, Cheromei took home the 2005 national title at 5,000 meters and won the 3,000-meter crown in both 2006 and 2007. He was also a part of Virginia Intermont's first-place distance medley relay squad in 2006.
Cheromei opened his collegiate career at Butler Community College in 2004. He won NJCAA indoor national titles in the mile and 5,000 meters and took the outdoor steeplechase crown in his lone year at the institution.
Running seems to be in Cheromei's blood, as his sister Lydia Cheromei finished second at the 2004 World Half Marathon Championships. Cheromei a known commodity on the local running scene. He won back-to-back Virginia Ten Miler titles in 2007 and 2008 and finished second in his marathon debut at the 2007 Richmond Marathon.
Cheromei earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Virginia Intermont in 2007. He then graduated from Liberty with a master's degree in human services in 2009. Cheromei and his wife, Laurel, have three children—Lily (8), Levi (7) and Lucy (4)