Apr 20, 2010

Track team sprints to championships

by Daniel Martinez

It is beginning to look like the Liberty University Track & Field team is a bit selfish.

After all, they were apparently not satisfied with winning October’s Big South Conference Cross Country Championships for the men’s and women’s teams.

Nor were they satisfied with snatching both of February’s Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. This weekend in Charleston, S.C., Coach Brant Tolsma’s crew reeled in both men’s and women’s honors in the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, completing the Big South’s first “double triple.”

The newest titles came by wide margins, with the men’s team smoking second-place Coastal Carolina by 76.5 points and the women breaking Coastal’s three-year stranglehold with a 54.5-point margin of victory.

“We went from event to event watching our athletes battle and compete,” Tolsma, who was awarded Big South Track & Field Coach of the Year honors for both men’s and women’s teams, said. “(They often) won in such convincing fashion, it almost looked like it wasn’t that tough of an accomplishment.”

For the second consecutive year, redshirt junior Evans Kigen won both the men’s 5K and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. In the former, he set a facility record with a time of 14:34, beating the runner up by over 200 meters. The latter he accomplished on his own 26th birthday, and both led to his being named the Men’s Outstanding Track Performer of the event.

“I’ve been training hard,” Kigen said. “I am just trying to get ready for (the National Championships in June). For the steeplechase, I ran 9:14, which wasn’t that fast, so it didn’t take a lot of energy, and that’s why I was able to do well in the 5K. ”

Another Liberty runner who excelled this weekend was redshirt senior Ashley Osborne. Competing in the women’s 10K, Osborne listened to her coach’s advice in simply remaining with the pack for a significant portion of the race, then “kick in for the last mile, or whenever I felt good,” Osborne said. “I was a little worried about the 5K, because it was my second event.” Osborne won the event with a time of 17:51

Other outstanding Liberty runners included redshirt senior Jaime Watson, who broke school and meet records with a time of 53.61 in the 400-meter dash, sophomore Isaac Wendland’s personal best-time 1:52 in the 800-meter dash — good for second place —and Meghan Burgraff, Liberty’s first-ever Women’s Freshman of the Year winner for the outdoor meet, who provided a “real shocker” to even her own coach when she won the 800 in 2:12, a facility record.

Junior jumper Clarence Powell was another who left a big mark on the day’s proceedings. He finished a solid third in the triple jump and high jump competitions, but those paled in comparison to his victory in the long jump. On his final attempt, he cleared 24 feet, finishing in first.

“Before, I was averaging about 22 feet,” Powell said later. “This year, I hit my personal best the past two meets, so it’s a blessing. I really didn’t feel that I would do anything in the long jump.” His performance earned him Men’s Outstanding Field Performer honors.

““Even some of the people who were getting sixth, seventh, and eighth were people I was not expecting to do that (well),” Tolsma added.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of history,” Powell said.

Contact Daniel Martinez at
dpmartinez@liberty.edu.
 


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