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Liberty Completes Big South Double Triple
Liberty made Big South Conference history on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon at Bagwell-Settle Track in Charleston, S.C. The Flames and Lady Flames swept the team titles at the 2010 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, successfully completing the conference's first-ever "Double Triple."
Liberty's historic feat started with men's and women's Big South cross country titles at High Point, N.C., on Oct. 31. The Flames and Lady Flames then swept the team championships at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 27-28 in Clemson, S.C., setting the stage for this weekend's accomplishments.
The Lady Flames racked up 245.5 points, outdistancing runner-up and two-time defending Big South champion Coastal Carolina by 54.5 markers. The Chanticleers finished with a score of 191.
The same two squads topped the men's team standings, in the same order. Liberty notched its fourth consecutive men's title and 15th in the last 17 years, with a final score of 194. Coastal Carolina captured runner-up honors with 117.5 points.
Liberty also garnered a significant amount of hardware during the post-meet awards ceremony, including Brant Tolsma's Men's and Women's Coach of the Year honors. The distinctions were the 42nd and 43rd such awards of his 24-year coaching career.
Individually, Meghan Burggraf was voted Women's Freshman of the Year and fellow mid-distance runner Rebekah Ricksecker was tabbed Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year, after picking up the same award at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.
On the men's side, Clarence Powell picked up his second Men's Outstanding Field Performer trophy of the year, while Evans Kigen took home the Men's Outstanding Track Performer award. Josh Edmonds was included on the Big South All-Academic team.
Women's Meet Recap
Burggraf became the Lady Flames' first-ever Big South Women's Freshman of the Year at the outdoor meet, after passing teammates Ricksecker and Jaime Watson down the homestretch to win the 800-meter run in a facility-record time of 2:12.78. Ricksecker was second in 2:13.40, with Watson third in 2:14.20, giving Liberty the second of its two 1-2-3 sweeps in Saturday's women's mid-distance races. To add icing to the cake, Rod'Esther Castor crossed the line eighth in 2:18.99, giving Liberty 25 team points in the event.
Ricksecker headlined the Lady Flames' first sweep of the All-Big South awards on the afternoon, when she became the first runner in conference history to claim three women's 1,500-meter titles, in a winning time of 4:38.93. Hailey Neal was a close second in a personal-best 4:39.04, with Jennifer Klugh crossing the line third at 4:39.80. Liberty tallied 27 big points in the 1,500, after Betel Yosef added a sixth-place finish in a personal-best 4:50.51.
Liberty nearly posted another 1-2-3 finish in the next-to-last event of the meet, the women's 5K. Ashley Osborne complemented her 10K championship from Thursday evening with a second distance title. Her time of 17:51.93 put the redshirt senor a second and a half in front of Klugh, who nabbed runner-up honors with a personal-best 17:53.43. Ricksecker, in her third race of the day, briefly took over third place before finishing sixth in a time of 18:11.08.
Watson provided one of the meet's highlights, smashing her own school record and the meet record with a stellar 53.61 clocking in the 400-meter dash final. Chenoa Freeman joined her teammate on the podium, with a season-best 55.00 effort for third place.
Freeman later went on to place sixth in the 200 meters, qualifying for the ECAC meet with a personal-best 24.66 clocking.
Wrapping up the track events, sophomore Olivia Charnuski garnered two All-Big South awards in the hurdles. She started her day by posting her second straight third-place finish at this meet, finishing the 100-meter hurdles in 14.24 seconds. The Canadian later posted a personal-best 1:02.99 for the runner-up spot in the 400 hurdles. Following Charnuski across the line in the event was fellow sophomore Melanie Sims, whose 1:03.14 effort garnered third place.
Highlighting Saturday's field events was a 1-2 Liberty finish in the triple jump, led by Mia Aghaji. The redshirt sophomore became the first Lady Flame to win the event at the Big South meet since 1999 with a season-best 38-9 leap. Alyssa Pegues followed her teammate in second place, sailing out to 38-2.75, setting a season-best distance as well.
A couple of Liberty's busiest athletes this weekend also made Saturday point contributions. Heptathlon champion Krystle Matthews finished sixth in the 100 hurdles final in 14.75 seconds. For the meet, she completed 11 disciplines and summed 22 team points.
Heptathlon runner-up Christina Mitchell came home fifth in the 400 hurdles, stopping the clock at 1:05.38. She also performed in 11 events, contributing 15.5 points.
Men's Meet Recap
Kigen put an exclamation point on Liberty's victory, winning the 5K by more than 200 meters. The redshirt junior, who had celebrated his 26th birthday with a steeplechase champion Friday evening, crossed the line in a facility-record time of 14:34.66. This is the second time Kigen has completed the steeplechase/5K double at the Big South outdoor meet, after winning the same two races at Winthrop in 2008.
Powell capped off a busy and successful weekend with a runner-up finish in the triple jump at 48-0. One of three Flames to place in the top eight, he previously won the long jump and took third in the high jump during the three-day meet, scoring a total of 24 points. Liberty's other point scorers in the triple jump included sixth-place Anthony Bryant at 46-10.25 and eighth-place Aaron Johnson at 45-9.25.
Edmonds did not compete on Saturday, but posted a third-place finish in the 10K at the meet, clocking a personal-best 30:25.29 in Thursday afternoon's steamy conditions.
Liberty took first place in two of Saturday's field event finals, highlighted by a dominating performance in the pole vault. After finishing 1-2-3-4 in the event at the Big South indoor meet, the Flames went 1-2-4 on Saturday, tallying 23 team points.
Leading the way was sophomore Cody Fridgen, who cleared 15-5.5 to become Liberty's 11th men's pole vault champion in the 17 years of the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Geren Woodbridge, who took third place in the decathlon this weekend, matched Fridgen's winning height but claimed runner-up honors on misses. Getting up for a fourth-place finish was newcomer Spencer McCorkel, who sailed over 13-11.75.
Redshirt junior Elliot Galeone held off Winthrop's Billy Pearce to win the discus crown by three inches with his 159-3 heave. Galeone's title was Liberty's 11th all-time Big South discus championship.
As he did at this year's Big South indoor meet, sophomore Isaac Wendland captured runner-up honors in the 800-meter final. His time was a personal-best 1:52.87.
Liberty newcomers claimed third-place finishes in both of Saturday's men's hurdles finals. In the 110 hurdles, it was Chris Herbst crossing the line in 14.60 seconds to claim All-Big South honors. Freshman Taylor Courtney posted his best 400 hurdles clocking, 52.85, but was edged out of second place by Radford's Brett Olinger by two-thousandths of a second.
In both the 200 and 400-meter dash events, Flames runners ended up fourth. Jacey Bailey's 21.57 earned the spot at the 200-meter distance, while freshman Andre Washington clocked a 48.87 for fourth in the 400.
Liberty will return to action on Thursday, when the Flames and Lady Flames begin competition at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
Final Men's Team Scores
1) Liberty - 194
2) Coastal Carolina - 117.5
3) Radford - 100
4) VMI - 95.5
5T) High Point - 88
5T) Charleston Southern - 88
7) Gardner-Webb - 55
8) Winthrop - 50.5
9) UNC Asheville - 28.5
Final Women's Team Scores
1) Liberty - 245.5
2) Coastal Carolina – 191
3) Charleston Southern - 90
4) Winthrop - 73
5) High Point – 69
6) Radford - 56.5
7) Gardner-Webb - 39
8) UNC Asheville – 37
9) VMI - 16
Men's Outstanding Track Performer
Evans Kigen, Liberty
Women's Outstanding Track Performer
Ikeiylah Brown, Coastal Carolina
Men's Outstanding Field Performer
Clarence Powell, Liberty
Women's Outstanding Field Performer
Brittany Connor, Coastal Carolina
Men's Freshman of the Year
Josh Pelletier, High Point
Women's Freshman of the Year
Meghan Burggraf, Liberty
Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Josh Morgan, High Point
Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Rebekah Ricksecker, Liberty
Men's All-Academic Team
Josh Edmonds, Liberty
Matt Dobson, Radford
Paul Steinke, Gardner-Webb
Matt Satterwhite, VMI
Josh Morgan, High Point
Simon Haake, UNC Asheville
Jason Jensen, Coastal Carolina
Adam Freudenthal, Winthrop
J.P. Poisson, Charleston Southern
Women's All-Academic Team
Carrie Long, Gardner-Webb
Brittany Christian, Radford
Christina Fenske, High Point
Mikaela Terry, Coastal Carolina
Rebekah Ricksecker, Liberty
Natalie Pearson, UNC Asheville
Hannah Granger, VMI
Tia Habersham, Charleston Southern
Amami Antia-Obong, Winthrop
Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty
Women's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty