May 1, 2007

Track sets new records in Keystone State

by Will Luper, Sports Reporter
The Big South Champion Liberty men’s and women’s track teams traveled to University Park, at Penn State University to compete in the Penn State Regionals.

On the first day of competition, three Liberty athletes qualified for NCAA competitions.

Just a week after setting a Liberty record in the 10,000-meter run record at 35:08.35, junior Carol Jefferson set a new Big South Conference and Liberty record with a final time of 34:37.27.
Not only did Jefferson set the record, but she also qualified for the NCAA Provisional standard.
Also advancing to the NCAA Regionals was sophomore Ashley Osborne. In the 5,000-meter run, Osborne finished with a time of 16:42.79, also breaking her own school record, which had been 16:53.89, in the competition.

Sophomore Jordan McDougal also qualified for NCAA Regional competition by placing third in the 5,000-meter run. He set a new personal best with a time of 14:00.14.
“They really did something significant,” said Head Coach Brant Tolsma.

Day two saw more strong performances from the Flames, with junior Clendon Henderson leading the way.

Henderson chalked in his name at the top of the Big South record books in the men’s discus throw with a distance of 186-3.

It was also good enough to bump his name into the elite Top-25 national standings.

“It was definitely worth coming for,” said Tolsma as he commented on Henderson and junior Jon Hart. Hart finished sixth in the shot put with a distance of 54-2.

“They’re really experienced and talented athletes,” he said.

“They’re juniors now and getting in the groove and knowing what it takes. No one ever throws as far as they want to. To finish in the top five is pretty good.”

Sophomore Matt Parker had a full schedule on the day as well, competing in both the long jump and the high jump. Parker placed ninth with his season-best jump of 22-7.75 in the long-jump and was able to clear a height of 6-8.25 in the men’s high jump.

The women’s 4 x 200 meter relay team, consisting of sophomores Andrea Beckles and Tra’ Screen, junior Charlene Hibbert and senior Arlene Zelinskas finished 23rd in the preliminaries with a time of 1:39.06.

The quartet qualified for Saturday’s ECAC final but fell 0.12 seconds short of breaking the school record.

Zelinskas and Hibbert teamed up with freshman Chenoa Freeman and sophomore Jamie Watson in the sprint medley to finish 17th out of 43 teams with a time of 4:02.15.

The team ran the fourth fastest time in school history and the fastest clocked in six years.
Sophomores Phil Leineweber and Oronde Vassell, junior Josh Gilreath and senior Travis Campbell placed 23rd in the men’s sprint medley, clocking in at 3:27.92.

In the 400-meter hurdles, junior Tim O’ Donnell finished 22nd out of 58 competitors with a time of 54.37.

In the final day of action, Hart placed fifth in the hammer throw with a final distance of 203-8. The only athletes to place higher than Hart were the current top three Division-I athletes, and Division-II Kibwe Johnson from Ashland University.

The women’s 4 x 200 meter relay team finished fifth in the finals of the ECAC section with a time of 1:40.10.  The University of Connecticut won the event in 1:36.14.  

“Everything wasn’t great, but we had some really good things,” said Tolsma.

“Overall, I think we probably went beyond what we expected.”

Liberty will be sending 16 different athletes to NCAA competition, with the possibility of two more being added to the list.

“It’s been an excellent year so far,” said Tolsma.

“The most we’ve had before is five.  If you look at how many teams have 16 athletes qualified then those are the best teams.”

The Flames will return to action for the final home meet of the year on May 3 at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier.

Meanwhile in Palo Alto, Calif., junior Josh McDougal continued his assault on the record books with another spectacular showing at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

The Peru, N.Y. native competed in the 10,000-meter run, an event that featured a deep field of both collegiate and sponsored non-collegiate athletes.

McDougal shattered his previous school and conference record by 22 seconds, clocking in at 28:27.65.

The junior’s performance automatically secured him a spot in the NCAA Division-I national meet in Sacramento in June.

McDougal ran against some of the top athletes in the country with 15 of the competitors finishing under 28 minutes.

McDougal sits atop the NCAA rankings in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters and is now ranked eighth in the 10,000. Liberty’s record-breaking phenom now looks forward to the IC4As on May 11-13 in Princeton, N. J.

Among many of his accolades earned during his tenure here at Liberty, McDougal has garnered numerous All-American and Big South honors and finished 13th as a freshman in the national meet.
After finishing 27th in the NCAA national meet during the fall season, McDougal will try to win a title he has been seeking since bursting onto the collegiate running scene.

Contact Will Luper at wluper@liberty.edu.
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