Feb 26, 2008

Freeman, Sheperd highlight VT Challenge

by David Hunt

Records are meant to be broken. Liberty University’s track and field program has been doing just that. Freshman Kolby Shepherd and sophomore Chenoa Freeman both dropped in impressive performances, and a plethora of other athletes notched personal records.
Both the Flames and Lady Flames traveled to Blacksburg over the weekend to compete in the Virginia Tech Challenge, where they were pitted against teams such as Georgia State, Maryland, Virginia and Marshall. They more than held their ground. 
“We got the records, a lot of guys and girls broke their own personal records and no one got injured,” teammate Kalib Wilkerson said. 
Shepherd leaped into the Liberty record books with a jump of 16 feet, 2 3/4 inches — placing him fifth in the competition and landing him the fourth highest jump in Flame history. It was also good enough to qualify him for the IC4A Championships.
Freeman excelled in several record-breaking competitions, starting with the 400-meter dash, which she ran in 55.70 seconds — good for fourth overall and a school record (surpassing her own record of 56.09 seconds earlier in the season). 
Next up for Freeman was the 4x400-meter relay, where she teamed up with sophomore Brittany Heath, junior Jamie Watson and senior Charlene Hibbert. The team finished third overall and qualified for the ECAC meet ­— also breaking the school and conference record in the event. 
The women sprinters also received help in the 200-meter dash from junior Andrea Beckles, who placed 19th overall in 25.13 seconds. Her time is the fourth fastest for a Liberty athlete.
Other notable performances on the women’s side include strong showings in the distance events. In the 3,000-meter race junior Ashley Osborne grabbed victory with an ECAC-qualifying time of 9:57 (the second fastest time in Liberty history).
“I felt pretty good,” Osborne said. “It was a neat race to come out and run with a lot of competitive runners.”
In the 5,000-meter race, seniors Piper Newby and Rachel Valliere, freshman Dascia Bushman and senior Carol Jefferson grabbed spots five through eight respectively. Newby led the charge with a 17:55 with Valliere a second behind (17:56), followed by Bushman (18:00) and Jefferson (18:01). 
On the men’s side Jordan McDougal and Jon Hart led the effort. The fleet-footed McDougal placed fourth in the 5,000-meter race, running 14:39. Liberty redshirt sophomore Sam Chelenga won the race outright with a speedy 13:52. 
Jon Hart took fifth in the weight throw with a strong 61-9.5 toss. Hart also took seventh in the shotput with a heave of 53-9.75.
“Jon knows how to throw it,” senior teammate Luke Garvey said. “He’s had a remarkable season so far, and he keeps getting past 61 (feet) in the weight throw — which is world-class.”
In other events Matt Parker tied for fourth in the high jump (6 feet, 6 3/4 inches) and freshman Clarence Powell triple-jumped to a seventh place finish in 49 feet, 3/4 inches.
“We’re ready,” senior Jarvis Jelen stated after seeing the results. “Conference is coming up, and everyone seems to be on the same page.”
Liberty will travel to the Big South Conference Championships on Friday and Saturday. The meet will be held in Clemson, S.C. and the Liberty’s men’s team is expected to be big favorites as they have taken all 10 titles in the 10-year history of the meet.

Contact David Hunt at dhunt@liberty.edu.

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