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Liberty Men's Track Team Breaks Into Top 25, Paced by Big South Track Athlete of the Week McDougal
The Trackwire rankings, based upon projected national meet results, listed the Flames in a tie with UTEP, Nebraska and Mississippi. Florida State, the defending national champion, is an overwhelming No. 1 for the third straight week.
After running the 5,000 meters in 13:20.43 last Friday at the Mt. SAC Relays, McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.) is projected to finish third at the national meet in the event, behind Wisconsin's Chris Solinsky and Oregon's Galen Rupp. McDougal's 5,000-meter time and his converted 1,500-meter time of 3:39.06 both rank No. 1 on the up-to-date national performance lists.
Brandon Hoskins (Jr., Garden City, Texas), though he has not yet completed a decathlon this season, is picked to place fourth nationally in the event. Jake Arnold of Arizona, Trackwire's projected national champion and Chris Helwick, the projected runner-up, are the only two collegiate decathletes who have posted a score higher than Hoskins' personal-best of 7,529 points so far this season.
The Flames have enjoyed a successful outdoor season up to this point, claiming four of the five Big South Men's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week honors, including McDougal's distinction this week. The Empire State native has now won a pair of conference athlete of the week honors during the outdoor season, bringing his total of Big South Athlete of the Week awards to nine since the start of the cross country campaign. Junior throwers Jon Hart (Wyomissing, Pa.) and Clendon Henderson (Meadow, Texas) have also been named Big South Outdoor Track Athlete of the week, winning the honor on March 21 and April 11, respectively.
McDougal's 5K effort from Friday ranks him as the No. 5 collegiate runner of all-time in the event. Only one collegiate athlete in the last 25 years (Arkansas' Alistair Cragg in 2004) has run faster for 5,000 meters. McDougal's Liberty and Big South Conference record-setting time also met the "A" qualifying standard for both this year's World Championships in Osaka, Japan and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Liberty is currently preparing for the New Balance Big South Conference Track and Field Championships Presented by UCS, which the Flames will host at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex, Thursday through Saturday. A Liberty men's team championship would complete a "Triple Crown," as the Flames previously won team conference titles in both men's cross country and men's track and field.