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Liberty Men's Track Captures 10th-Straight Big South Indoor Title; Lady Flames Finish Second
The Flames ran away with first place, outscoring second-place Radford, 199-124. Liberty, coached by Brant Tolsma, has won all 10 Big South indoor team championships ever contested. The Flames also reached a program milestone, as Liberty's men's and women's cross country and track and field teams have now captured 50 Big South team championships since joining the conference in 1991.
Mid-distance and distance running was a key to the Liberty men's success, as Flames' athletes won the 800, the mile, the 3,000 and the 5,000. Three of the victories came courtesy of the McDougal brothers.
Josh McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.) added the mile championship to his first-place finish at 3,000 meters on Saturday. His winning time of 4:03.87, a NCAA provisional qualifier, outdistanced runner-up Donnie Cowart-Mikels of VMI by nearly 10 full seconds. At meet's end, McDougal was named Big South Men's Track Performer of the Year for the second-straight season.
Brother Jordan McDougal (So., Peru, N.Y.) later led a 1-2 Liberty finish in the 5,000 meters, crossing the line in a time of 14:35.63. Freshman teammate Joshua Edmonds (Cooperstown, N.Y.) was second with a 14:50.15 effort. Edmonds, who also placed seventh at 3,000 meters, became the first Liberty male to capture the Big South Men's Freshman of the Year honor.
While both McDougals won in convincing fashion on Sunday, Liberty's Travis Campbell (Sr., Candler, N.C.) took a tight 800-meter contest. He ran a 1:55.56 to prevail in a race which saw the top three runners separated by just .33 seconds.
Clarence Murray (Jr., Birdsboro, Pa.), who led after the first day of the heptathlon, maintained his advantage and defended his title from last year. Murray's meet-record score of 4,303 won by 180 points. The junior has now won the last three Big South multi-event titles, as he additionally captured the decathlon at last year's outdoor conference meet. Daniel Newell (So., Roanoke, Va.) was also an All-Big South performer in the heptathlon, placing third with 3,918 points.
The junior throwing duo of Jon Hart (Wyomissing, Pa.) and Clendon Henderson (Meadow, Texas) completed a successful weekend, after finishing first and second, respectively, in Saturday's shot put. Hart threw the weight 60-5.25 to end up second on Sunday, and Henderson placed third with a personal-best 58-11.25 effort. Henderson is now the No. 3 performer on Liberty's all-time weight throw list. Meanwhile, Hart won the Big South Men's Field Performer of the Year award, becoming the first Liberty athlete to capture the honor since Nick Anderson did so in 2002.
Two other Flames garnered all-conference recognition in individual events on Sunday, including Tim O'Donnell (So., Hurst, Texas), who was the 60-meter hurdle runner-up, with a time of 8.36 seconds. Donald Manns (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) came in third in the triple jump, topping out at 44-3.5.
Liberty capped its championship day by taking second place in the final event, the 4 x 400 relay. Josh Gilreath (Jr., Reidsville, N.C.), O'Donnell, Campbell and Philip Leineweber (So., New Freedom, Pa.) teamed up for a time of 3:18.68. Leineweber was included on the Big South All-Academic team.
The Coastal Carolina women's team totaled 204.5 points, enabling them to hold off the Lady Flames for the second-consecutive year. Liberty, the first-day leader, tallied 167.25 markers.
Arlene Zelinskas (Sr., Dayton, Ohio) totaled 36 of the Lady Flames' tallies, winning two events and taking a pair of runner-up finishes. Her second event win came on Saturday, as the senior won a fast 60-meter hurdle final, by 0.02 seconds over Coastal Carolina's LeAuna Sistrunk.
Zelinskas' time of 8.47 broke her own school record and meet record. It equals Sistrunk's time from earlier this season as the all-time fastest mark by a Big South athlete. In the two-day conference meet, Zelinskas won the 60 hurdles and high jump and was the long jump and pentathlon runner-up.
The 2006 Big South Women's Track Performer of the Year, Zelinskas shared the award with Coastal Carolina distance runner, Felicitas Mensing this season. Zelinskas also earned a spot on the Big South All-Academic roster.
Like their male counterparts, the Liberty women's distance crew enjoyed significant success over the weekend. Headlining the efforts was Carol Jefferson (Jr., Schwenksville, Pa.). After finishing second at 3,000 meters on Saturday, Jefferson won the 5,000 meters for the second-consecutive season, clocking a 17:12.83.
Jefferson was not the only Lady Flame who stood out in the 5,000-meter run. Piper Newby (Jr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) and Ashley Osborne (So., Bristol, Va.) enabled Liberty to sweep the top three places. Both runners dipped under the 18-minute barrier, with Newby coming in at 17:42.73 and Osborne at 17:59.89.
Rebekah Ricksecker (So., Laurel, Del.) added a second-place finish in the mile, clocking a 5:10.82. The Lady Flames' last All-Big South performer in the open running events was Andrea Beckles (So., Lynchburg, Va.), who had set a school record on Saturday and then finished third in the 60 meters on Sunday, in 7.69 seconds.
The Lady Flames came in second in the 4 x 400 relay, in a time of 3:55.79. The squad members included Tra' Screen (So., Lynchburg, Va.), Charlene Hibbert (Jr., Mississauga, Ontario), Sheronica Henton (Fr., Raeford, N.C.) and Chenoa Freeman (Fr., Lincoln, Del.).
Liberty will now have a weekend off before traveling to Boston for the ECAC and IC4A Championships, March 3-4.
Men's Final Team Standings
1) Liberty – 199
2) Radford -124
3) Charleston Southern – 98
4) Winthrop – 81
5) VMI – 75
6) High Point – 62
7) UNC Asheville – 20
Women's Final Team Standings
1) Coastal Carolina – 204.5
2) Liberty – 167.25
3) Charleston Southern – 69.75
4) Radford – 62
5) High Point – 51.5
6) Winthrop – 44
7) UNC Asheville – 37
8) VMI – 23
Men's Track Performer of the Year
Josh McDougal, Liberty
Women's Track Performer of the Year
Arlene Zelinskas, Liberty and Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina
Men's Field Performer of the Year
Jon Hart, Liberty
Women's Field Performer of the Year
Tiffany Evans, Radford
Men's Freshman of the Year
Josh Edmonds, Liberty
Women's Freshman of the Year
Natalie Pearson, UNC Asheville
Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Kevin Sullivan, Virginia Military Institute
Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina
Allen Batiste, Charleston Southern
Kyle Lounsbury, High Point
Philip Leineweber, Liberty
Jordany Wynder, Radford
Joel Quirk, UNC Asheville
Kevin Sullivan, VMI
Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina
Dionne Gibson, Charleston Southern
Shauna Marsh, High Point
Arlene Zelinskas, Liberty
Shauna Harris, Radford
Emily Mase, UNC Asheville
Hatley Clifford, VMI
Amanda Bolt, Winthrop
Men's Coach of the Year
Tim Langford, Charleston Southern
Women's Coach of the Year
Alan Connie, Coastal Carolina