Mar 28, 2006

McDougal earns two All-American honors

by Evan Falat
Three weekends ago while most of the Liberty student body had already departed from campus en route to their spring break destination, Josh McDougal was in Fayetteville, Ark. adding to his ever-increasing number of accolades. Competing at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in both the 5,000 and 3,000 meters McDougal added two more All-American awards to his trophy case.

McDougal’s first race of the weekend championships was the 5,000 meters on Friday night. The star-studded field took the first mile out at a considerable slow pace of 4:44, while the second mile saw the pace quicken and McDougal jumped into the thick of things as he was right with the front pack of runners.

This front pack controlled the pace for the next 1200 meters and when only two laps were remaining, five runners were still in competition for first place. Along with Liberty’s McDougal were Wisconsin’s Chris Solinsky, Iona’s Richard Kiplagat, Arkansas’ Josephat Boit, and Oregon’s Galen Rupp.

Interestingly, Solinsky and Kiplagat were two of only three runners that beat McDougal at this past year’s cross-country national championships.

By the bell lap Boit had begun to pull away and was followed closely by Kiplagat and Solinsky.  The finishing order stayed that way for the top three places while McDougal finished fourth, just ahead of Oregon’s Rupp. McDougal’s final time was 13:55.85 and he finished fourth in the field of sixteen runners.

Doubling back the next night for the 3,000 meters was a challenging move by McDougal but nevertheless something that he wanted to perform.  Again, a who’s who of premier collegiate distance runners were in the race, including many of the top performers from Friday night’s 5,000 race.

McDougal started out towards the middle of the field as he was in seventh place after the first two laps of the fifteen-lap race. By the 800-meter mark McDougal was still in the seventh position, but the pack of runners was considerable tight as less than a second separated McDougal from Iona’s Kiplagat, the race leader. 

Two laps later, however, McDougal had moved up to third place trailing Richard Cheserat of Arizona and Solinsky of Wisconsin. The leader’s pack began to break up a little bit by the two kilometer mark and at this point in the race Josh was in fifth place.

In the last kilometer of the race, Solinsky began to pull away from the pack, increasing his lead to five seconds going into the bell lap.

 

At this same time McDougal was in a race for fourth place with Kiplagat.

McDougal closed his final 200 meters in 31 seconds and earned his second All-American honors of the meet as he finished fifth place overall in a time of 8:07.35.

Liberty finished in a tie for 23 place with nine points in the overall team standings. With McDougal as Liberty’s lone representative, his performances helped Liberty finish ahead of schools such as Notre Dame, the University of Georgia, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, Ohio State, Stanford University, and UCLA.

Regarding the team standings, Liberty Head Coach Brant Tolsma said, “This is the highest finish ever by our men’s team at Nationals.  This is the beginning of a climb where we are looking to be among the top teams in the country.  That is the vision that we have for this program.”

Liberty will next compete at home as their host the Liberty Invitational and Multi-Event this coming weekend at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex.

Contact Evan Falat at emfalat@liberty.edu.
 *Track & Field News contributed to this article.

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