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Cumings, Smith, Wendland Bound for Eugene

June 3, 2013
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(L-R): Mychelle Cumings, Isaac Wendland and Ryan Smith will compete in the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Wednesday through Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Meet Schedule (Times Listed are Pacific)

Pac-12 Live Video Streaming

ESPN3 Live Video Streaming

Live Results

@LibertyFlames Twitter

Start Lists

Eugene Weather

Hayward Field Information

NCAA.com Meet Information Page

GoDucks.com Meet Information Page

Track & Field News' Men's Predictions

Track & Field News' Women's Predictions

For the 10th year in a row, Liberty will be represented at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The trio of Mychelle Cumings (women's discus), Ryan Smith (men's shot put) and Isaac Wendland (men's 1,500) will all compete in the 2013 edition of the meet, slated for Wednesday through Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

All three Flames will be making their NCAA national meet debuts this week, beginning on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern when Smith throws the shot put. On Thursday, Cumings will throw the discus at 5 p.m. Eastern, followed by Wendland in the men's 1,500 semifinals at 7:45. If Wendland advances to the final, he will race again Saturday at 5:31 p.m. Eastern.

How to Follow Mychelle, Ryan and Isaac
The Pac-12 live video stream will cover all of Wednesday's action, starting at 3 p.m. Eastern, and most of the field events during the remainder of the meet.

ESPN3 will broadcast Thursday's running events, including Wendland's men's 1,500 semifinal race, beginning its coverage at 6:50 p.m. Eastern. The Thursday ESPN3 broadcast may also feature highlights from Cumings' women's discus competition.

If Wendland reaches the men's 1,500 final, that race would be part of ESPNU's Saturday broadcast, which is set to run from 5-7 p.m. Eastern.

Live results, including throw-by-throw updates in the field events, will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.

LibertyFlames.com will be on hand at Hayward Field, providing CoveritLive blog coverage during each of Liberty's events.

Additionally, periodic updates will be posted to the official Liberty Flames Twitter account, @LibertyFlames.

Eugene Weather Report
The weather forecast calls for nearly ideal conditions in Eugene during the four days of competition, with high temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to low 80s. Sunshine is projected to be abundant with a minimal chance of precipitation.

About the Facility
Hayward Field, which first opened in 1919, is one of the most storied track & field venues in the United States. The stadium, which boasts a permanent seating capacity of 10,500, hosted the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and is slated to do so once again in 2016.

The facility most recently hosted the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2010, a meet which saw Liberty's Sam Chelanga claim the men's 10K national title. Ironically, Chelanga now calls Hayward Field his home track, as he lives in Eugene and trains with the Oregon Track Club Elite.

The track at Hayward Field was completely rebuilt by Beynon Sports Surfaces in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Trials. The same company reconstructed Liberty's Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex in 2012.

Summarizing the Streaks
This will be the 10th consecutive year that Liberty is represented at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The streak began in 2004, when Chad Wilson long jumped and Danielle McNaney competed in the heptathlon in Austin, Texas.

Cumings and Smith extended Liberty's streak of qualifying throwers to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to seven straight seasons. Current assistant coach Clendon Henderson initiated the run in 2007, throwing the discus in Sacramento, Calif.

The Liberty men's squad has scored points at each of the last six NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and is one of only 26 men's teams in the nation which can make that claim.

NCAA Championship Event Capsules (Organized Chronologically)
Men's Shot Put
Event Schedule:
Final – Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Ryan Smith (R-Sr., Winder, Ga.)

How He Got Here: Smith equaled his second-longest shot put mark of the 2013 outdoor season when he uncorked a 59-4.75 throw in the second round at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet on May 24. The Georgia native sat in ninth place entering the final three rounds of throws but then had to suffer a few moments of trepidation. He slipped to 10th after the fourth round and 11th after the fifth round before ending up as the 12th and final Eugene qualifier from the East Region.

Sizing Up Smith: Smith's qualification to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships was especially gratifying because of how close he had come in previous years. Smith placed 16th in the men's shot put at the 2010 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, followed by an 18th-place finish in 2011 and a 17th-place showing in 2012.

Smith is the first Liberty men's shot putter ever to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Assistant coach Clendon Henderson threw the shot put at the 2008 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships for the Flames but never did so at the NCAA outdoor meet.

The most highly-decorated shot putter in Big South Conference history, Smith swept the Big South indoor and outdoor men's shot put titles for four straight years (2010-13). He is the only track & field athlete in conference history to win an event at the Big South indoor and outdoor championships in four consecutive seasons. Smith also set the Big South indoor (60-1.75) and outdoor (60-6) meet records for the men's shot put.

Smith will be competing at Hayward Field for the second time. He previously traveled to Eugene for the 2009 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the conclusion of his freshman year, placing 10th in the men's shot put. Two of Smith's competitors that day (Arizona State's Jordan Clarke and Wisconsin's Danny Block) will join him among the 24-member field on Wednesday evening.

A Look at the Competition: Although Georgia's Nick Vena recorded the longest throw (63-9) at either of the preliminary round meets, most of the national title contenders are expected to come from the West Region.

Arizona State senior Jordan Clarke enters as the two-time defending champion and also claimed top honors at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The Pac-12 champion boasts a personal best of 68-5.25.

However, Track & Field News has tabbed Oregon native and Texas sophomore Ryan Crouser as its pick to win on Wednesday. The reigning Big 12 champion boasts the longest personal-best mark among the 24 entrants at 69-2.5.

Serbian Bozidar Antunovic, who began his career at Arizona and now throws for Texas-Arlington, placed sixth a year ago. The WAC champion is Track & Field News' projected third-place finisher.

Both Texas Tech's Kole Weldon (second place) and Wisconsin's Danny Block (third place) will look to build upon their lofty finishes at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

How the Event Will Progress in Eugene: The 24 men's shot put competitors will each take three throws, at which point the field will be trimmed to nine finalists. Those nine athletes will conclude the competition with three more throws apiece.

The top eight finishers will score points for their respective teams and earn first team All-America honors. Placers No. 9-16 will become second team All-Americans. The rest of the men's shot putters will leave Eugene as honorable mention All-Americans.

What's at Stake for Smith: Smith will try to finish in the top 16 and join assistant coach Clendon Henderson as the only men's throwers in program history to become NCAA Division I All-Americans. (Liberty only formally recognizes first and second team honorees as All-Americans.) Henderson placed third in the men's discus at the 2008 NCAA meet.

Smith enters the meet with a personal-best throw of 60-6. If he has a great day on Wednesday, he could post a "B" qualifier (61-3) to the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Smith could also chase Henderson's Liberty and Big South outdoor men's shot put record of 61-3 from the 2008 Texas Relays.

Women's Discus
Event Schedule: Final – Thursday at 5 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Mychelle Cumings (So., Madison, Tenn.)

How She Got Here: Cumings put herself into great position to qualify for Eugene by unleashing a 164-2 discus throw during the second round at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet on May 23. That held up for ninth place and Cumings' first trip to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Cumings' Checklist: It is only appropriate that Cumings is Liberty's first women's discus thrower ever to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, because she has been making program history in the event ever since first setting foot on campus.

Last year, Cumings became Liberty's first-ever Big South women's discus champion, before successfully defending her crown in April. The Tennessee native then claimed the Lady Flames' first ECAC women's discus crown in May.

Cumings has not quite reached her discus school record of 167-0 this season. However, she has been an extremely consistent performer in 2013. Cumings' five meets of throwing the discus have seen her top out between 163-0 and 166-11 each time.

Cumings is the first Liberty underclassman (freshman or sophomore) to reach the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships since 2009. That year, freshman John Talbert threw the discus and redshirt sophomore Sam Chelanga ran the 10K.

Cumings' coach, Clendon Henderson, knows a thing or two about throwing the discus at Hayward Field. He did so at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials and at the 2009 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where he placed fifth.

A Look at the Competition: The most notable women's discus development at the preliminary round meets was that Texas A&M's Shelbi Vaughan failed to qualify for Eugene. The talented freshman was expected to be a national title contender, but her absence makes Arizona State junior Anna Jelmini the prohibitive favorite.

Jelmini, the Pac-12 champion, was the national runner-up in both 2011 and 2012. Her personal-best mark of 198-10 is the best among the 24 entrants by a wide margin.

Big 10 champion Beth Rohl from Michigan State has been a factor in this event throughout her career. The senior placed fifth in 2010, sixth in 2011 and fourth a season ago. Track & Field News tabs Rohl for third place, behind Jelmini and Kansas junior Jessica Maroszek, who won the Big 12 title.

Cumings beat two of the Eugene qualifiers at the Texas Relays, including Akron's Alexis Cooks and Northwestern State's Janae Allen.

How the Event Will Progress in Eugene: The 24 women's discus competitors will each take three throws, at which point the field will be trimmed to nine finalists. Those nine throwers will receive three more attempts apiece.

The top eight finishers will score points for their respective teams and earn first team All-America honors. Placers No. 9-16 will become second team All-Americans. The rest of the women's discus throwers will be tabbed honorable mention All-Americans.

What's at Stake for Cumings: With the way Cumings has consistently been throwing in the mid-160s this season, her school record of 167-0 is certainly in play. She could also reach the Big South women's discus standard of 168-5, which was set by Winthrop's Ashley Howard in 2010.

Cumings will attempt to become the second Liberty women's thrower to earn All-America honors in as many years. Last season, Melinda Bendik placed 16th in the women's hammer, becoming a second team All-American.

Men's 1,500-Meter Run
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Thursday at 7:45 p.m. Eastern; Final – Saturday at 5:31 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Isaac Wendland (R-Sr., Charles City, Iowa)

How He Got Here: Wendland, who entered the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet with a personal-best 1,500-meter time of 3:46.79, advanced to Eugene by running the two fastest races of his career.

In the first round on May 23, Wendland clocked a school-record time of 3:44.06 to place fifth in his heat and advance to the 1,500 quarterfinal round for the second time in his career (also 2011). The school record previously belonged to assistant coach Josh McDougal, who clocked a time of 3:44.56 in 2007.

Two days later, Wendland punched his ticket to Eugene in scintillating fashion. After sitting in 10th place at the bell, he moved his way up into the seventh and final qualifying position on the last lap, edging Binghamton's Jesse Garn by 0.07 seconds at the line. Wendland's time of 3:43.91 eclipsed his own school record and the Big South Conference standard of 3:43.99, which had been set by High Point's Taylor Milne in 2002.

Eyes on Isaac: Even before his impressive performance at the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet, Wendland was enjoying a storybook redshirt senior campaign. His season debut at the Coastal Carolina Invitational on March 9 marked his first race in a Liberty uniform since breaking his foot during February 2012. However, the Hawkeye State native has shown no signs of rust.

Wendland captured the first two Big South titles of his career on the same day, sweeping the 800 and 1,500-meter crowns on his home track on April 20. Three weeks later, he became just the second Flame (also Josh McDougal in 2007) to win the IC4A men's 1,500 championship.

However, Wendland had to sweat it out on May 16, as his season-best 1,500 time of 3:46.79 ranked just 64th in the East Region. Twenty runners ahead of him on the list failed to declare for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, opening the door for Wendland's magical run to Eugene. He is the first Liberty men's 1,500-meter runner ever to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

A Look at the Competition: Indiana senior Andrew Bayer is back and will aim to defend the national title he claimed a year ago in Des Moines. He ran in both of Wendland's 1,500 heats at the preliminary round meet, helping to set a fast pace.

N.C. State's Ryan Hill is expected to contend as well. He placed second in the mile at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships after finishing third in the 1,500 national final last season.
Sam McEntee of Villanova, one of four foreigners (Australia) among the 24-runner field, owns the fastest personal-best time of 3:36.81, achieved in 2012.

Host Oregon has three runners in the 1,500, including Mac Fleet, Chad Noelle and Patrick Todd. In 2010, Ducks Andrew Wheating, A.J. Acosta and Matt Centrowitz electrified the Hayward Field crowd with a 1-2-3 sweep in the NCAA 1,500 final.

How the Event Will Progress in Eugene: There will be two semifinal heats on Thursday, featuring 12 runners apiece. The top five finishers in each race and the next two fastest time qualifiers will advance to Saturday's 12-member national final.

The first eight runners across the line in the final will score team points and earn first team All-America distinction. The remaining four finalists and the four fastest semifinalists will become second team All-Americans. Meanwhile, the remainder of the 24 competitors will leave as honorable mention All-Americans.

What's at Stake for Wendland: With the Liberty and Big South 1,500-meter records already in hand, Wendland will try to improve his standing on the "B" qualifier list for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He would love to qualify for the meet, which will be contested in his home state of Iowa (Des Moines), June 20-23. Wendland would need to run a time of 3:41.20 or faster to hit the "A" standard and guarantee a spot on the starting line.

If Wendland is able to qualify for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, it would bring his career full circle. It was at Drake Stadium in Des Moines that Wendland became the first male in Iowa history to win four straight state 1,600-meter championships (2005-08).