Jan 29, 2008

Track team opens up home schedule with solid performance

by David Hunt

    Sprinting the 60-meter dash, jumping both long and high and tossing the shot put a solid 39 feet, five inches — sounds like quite the workout, but for junior Daniel Newell of the Liberty Flames track and field team, it was simply day one of the On Track Open. 
    Newell finished off the seven-discipline event in first place with strong finishes in the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and one kilometer run. Newell topped the competition with 5,155 total points.
    “He was remarkable today,” teammate senior Clint Jackson stated. “He didn’t just do well in one event, he did well in all of them.”
Newell set the pace for the Flames debut meet of the second semester as several Liberty athletes took high finishes and many more boasted personal bests. 
    The Liberty women cleaned up in several of the on and off track categories.
    The Lady Flames were led by the pentathlon competitors as Liberty scooped up three out of the top six positions.
Freshman Krystal Matthews was fourth (3,043 points), sophomore Sheronica Henton fifth (2,871) and freshman Jennifer Healey sixth (2,678).   
    Henton also had a strong performance in another event, the shotput, placing second with a heave of 37 feet, nine inches.
Sophomore Chenoa Freeman, senior Charlene Hibbert and freshman Mia Aghaji made for a powerful threesome in the women’s 400-meter dash as Freeman won the event in 57.35 seconds, followed by Hibbert, (third) in 58.09 and Aghaji (fifth) in 1:00.57.
Aghaji doubled up, competing in the long jump and finishing fourth in 17-50.50. 
    The men proved again that their team effort can sustain a challenge as runners, jumpers and throwers all teamed up to gather up points.
    Sophomore Durell Cull led the charge in the 60-meter run, finishing third. Cull crossed a few ticks behind the leader as he finished in 6.92 seconds (the race was won in 6.84). 
    Junior Phil Leinweber put on quite the show himself in the sprints, giving his legs and those following his steps quite the workout. Leinweber captured first in the 200 and 500-meter races finishing in 22.53 in 200 and 1:06:06. 
    Leinweber was followed closely by a pair of Flame harriers in the 500-meter race as junior Ben Handon and senior Tim O’Donnell finished third and fourth, respectfully. Handon finished in 1:09.75 and O’Donnell in 1:09.98.
    Seniors Jon Hart and Clendon Henderson teamed up to show why the Flames throwing squad is among the best in the Big South as they grabbed first (Hart) and second (Henderson) in the weight throw and second (Hart) in the shotput.
    Hart tossed the weight throw 63 feet, seven inches while Henderson managed a deep 58 feet, eight inches. In the shotput, Hart settled only six inches away from the winner, heaving 53 feet, one inch. 
    Other strong performances on Saturday were turned in by junior Matthew Parker (second place in high jump and fourth place in 60 hurdles) and freshman Kolby Shepherd (third in the pole vault).
    Freshman Clarence Powell turned heads with a first place performance in the  triple jump. Powell fell just short of the facility record of 50 feet but did manage to break his own school record with a a jump of 49-11.75.
    “Outside of a few lane violations and close disqualifications, the races went smoothly,” official Jake Reed said. “Everyone seemed to have fun, and the race looks like a preview for what Flame fans can expect this year.” 
    “We’re excited to see what’s going to happen as the season progresses,” Head Coach Brant Tolsma stated.
    The Flames look forward to their next meet, the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup at University Park, Pa., this weekend.

Contace David Hunt at dhunt@liberty.edu

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