Matt McClintock was more concerned about finishing strong than winning at the NCAA East Preliminary.

He did both, and earned his first trip the NCAA Championships in the process.

McClintock, an Athens native and Madison Memorial High School product, won the 10,000-meter run Thursday night, finishing in a time 29 minutes, 47.98. The Purdue University junior qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which are June 10-13 in Eugene, Ore.

After winning the Big Ten 5-kilometer title and finishing second in the 10k two weeks ago, McClintock said he was merely going to do enough to finish in the top 12 at regionals and qualify for the NCAA championships.

The race was the final event of the first day of prelims, starting at 9:40 p.m. in 80-degree weather in Jacksonville, Fla. McClintock lurked between third and fifth place for most of the race, then made his move in the bell lap and not only assumed first place but pulled away, beating runner-up Brandon Lord of Georgia by 4.99 seconds.

A two-time All-American in cross country, this will be McClintock’s first trip to NCAA track championships, outdoors or indoors. The 10,000-meter final is scheduled for June 10 at 9:43 p.m. McClintock, who was named a District 5 Academic All-American will be seeded 10th. The top eight finishers earn All-American status.

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