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Wendland Races to Eugene Qualifier in Men's 1,500
Liberty's Isaac Wendland added to an already memorable redshirt senior season on Saturday, qualifying for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the men's 1,500 in record-breaking fashion on the final day of the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet at Aggie Stadium.
Wendland, who previously captured the Big South and IC4A men's 1,500 titles, earned the East Region's final time-qualifying berth to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., with a seventh-place finish in his quarterfinal heat and a sterling time of 3:43.91.
Wendland's clocking breaks his own school record of 3:44.06 from Thursday's heat. It also eclipses the Big South Conference all-time standard of 3:43.99, which was set by High Point's Taylor Milne in 2002.
Wendland became Liberty's first men's 1,500 runner ever to reach the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships thanks to a powerful final lap charge. At the bell, the Hawkeye State native stood in 10th place in a fast race, thanks in large part to the aggressive pacing work of defending national champion Andrew Bayer of Indiana up front.
Wendland passed Indiana's Adam Behnke and Georgetown's Bobby Peavy down the backstretch to move into eighth. The redshirt senior and Binghamton's Jesse Garn then waged a back-and-forth duel down the home straightaway. In the end, Wendland out-leaned Garn by 0.07 seconds for what proved to be the event's second and final Eugene time qualifier and Wendland's first visit to the NCAA national meet.
Caleb Edmonds very nearly joined Wendland in qualifying for Eugene during the men's 5K, finishing just one spot and 0.68 seconds out of the final berth in his section. The Empire State native took sixth place in his heat in a time of 14:09.38, which put him 15th overall out of the 46 entrants.
After a dawdling early pace, Edmonds was one of a handful of runners who stepped on the accelerator during the closing stages. He clocked 4:12.45 for the last 1,600 and 2:02.97 for the final 800, enabling him to move into fifth place during a good portion of the last lap. However, Columbia's Mark Feigen edged past Edmonds on the final straightaway, claiming the fifth and final qualifying spot in the section.
Mychelle Cumings, who had qualified for Eugene in the women's discus on Thursday, threw the shot put Saturday afternoon. She topped out at 48-4.75 for 29th place.
Christina Mitchell wrapped up her successful collegiate career as a seven-time Big South event champion on Saturday. She placed 36th in the women's javelin, with a top throw of 140-3.
Reigning Big South men's triple jump champion Chris Johnson went 48-1.75 on his second attempt on Saturday, placing 39th overall in the event.
Kyle Wheeler, competing at this meet for the second year in a row, made it over 6-6.75 on his second high jump attempt. However, that's as high as the sophomore would go on the evening.
Liberty will send three athletes to Eugene, Ore., for the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, including Cumings in the women's discus, Wendland in the men's 1,500 and Ryan Smith in the men's shot put. Smith will throw on June 5, with Cumings and Wendland set to compete on June 6 at historic Hayward Field.