Apr 8, 2008

Track and field turns heads in Texas

by David Hunt
A vicious heave, a blistering middle-distance race and a remarkable show of endurance capped off a successful weekend for Liberty University track and field. The men and women split up over the weekend to cover ground — literally. While some athletes traveled to the Texas Relays for field action, others took to the Duke Relays and Murray Neely Invitational.

Liberty’s great heave came from none other than senior Clendon Henderson, record-holder for both Liberty and the Big South Conference. Henderson tossed the shot put 61 feet, three inches, giving him the win. It was not the only event he would capture over the weeklong competition. Henderson also won the discus.

“Clendon is one of the best throwers in the country right now,” senior Jarvis Jelen said. “He’s throwing good.” Jelen did not have a bad day himself, although he competed halfway across the country at the Duke Relays. Jelen’s 14-minute, 30 second finish in the 5,000-meter race was good for fifth while his teammate, sophomore Evans Kigen, took second in a hot-footed 14:16.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Chelenga won the race outright in 13:55. “Our distance team did well,” junior Jordan McDougal said. “I ran slow, though (14:42, seventh place).” The Duke Relays were highlighted in many ways by senior Carol Jefferson’s debut race, a swift performance in the 10,000-meter that showed just how much endurance she has in longer races. Jefferson grabbed the overall crown in 35:57, which put her near the top of those who have qualified for the ECAC Championships in May.

Jefferson’s time was good enough to win the race by nearly a lap over Kerry Salzano of Stony Brook. At the Murray Neely Invitational, junior Jamie Watson heated up the middle-distance crowd with a speedy 2:12 run in the 800-meter dash, good for first. The race was also Watson’s first of the outdoor season and one of the fastest of her career, which previews things to come as the postseason approaches.

Two weeks remain before Liberty’s track and field teams head to the Big South Conference meet, a competition that they have dominated over the past several years. Before that challenge, the teams must first travel to Lynchburg College to take part in the Lynchburg Track and Field Classic this weekend. Contact David Hunt at dhunt@liberty.edu.
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