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Liberty Preparing for IC4A and ECAC Championships
Head coach Brant Tolsma is sending a sizable delegation to New Jersey, including 16 male athletes and 13 female athletes. The Liberty participants will be competing with representatives from approximately 70 Division I institutions spanning the eastern United States. George Mason is the defending men's team champion, and Pittsburgh captured last year's women's title.
The Liberty men's squad is primed for a strong performance after tying for 13th place a season ago and finishing eighth at the IC4A Indoor Championships in March. Liberty has not won the IC4A team championship since 1996, when the Flames captured their first IC4A title.
"We would really like to win the IC4A meet, and I believe we have a team which could do it if we can rise to the occasion," stated Tolsma.
A pair of current Flames, Brandon Hoskins (Jr., Garden City, Texas) and Josh McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.), have captured IC4A outdoor titles in the past, as Hoskins won the decathlon as a freshman in 2005 and McDougal was the 10,000-meter champion in 2006.
Hoskins, who has battled numerous injuries since his freshman year, is once again healthy and recently won the Big South decathlon title. He is one of three Liberty decathletes entered in the IC4A field. Joining Hoskins in the event which will kick off the meet, at Noon on Friday, are Clarence Murray (Jr., Birdsboro, Pa.) and Daniel Newell (So., Roanoke, Va.).
McDougal figures to score some points for the Flames later on Friday, as he kicks off a busy night with the 5,000-meter final at 6:40 p.m. and comes right back with the 10,000 meters, 40 minutes later. McDougal won the 1,500 meters, the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters at the Big South Championships and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 meters.
McDougal will not be alone on the track during the distance-heavy Friday evening competition. Brother Jordan McDougal (So., Peru, N.Y.), who finished fourth at 10,000 meters as a freshman at this meet, will compete in the 5,000 meters and freshman Josh Edmonds (Cooperstown, N.Y.) will run the 10,000-meter final.
Another Friday highlight will be the beginning of what Tolsma hopes will be a banner meet for his talented pair of junior throwers, Jon Hart (Wyomissing, Pa.) and Clendon Henderson (Meadow, Texas). Henderson, ranked No. 24 in the nation in the discus, will throw the implement Friday evening. Both athletes will then compete in the hammer throw Saturday and the shot put Sunday. Hart is listed No. 20 nationally in the hammer.
The Lady Flames should get off to a nice start on Friday as well, as Piper Newby (Jr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) will kick things off with the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Ashley Osborne (So., Bristol, Va.) will follow in the 5,000 meters and Carol Jefferson (Jr., Schwenksville, Pa.) will wrap up the evening at 10,000 meters.
Newby, the Big South steeplechase champion, has dipped under 10:55 in the event three times this year. Osborne has lopped over a minute off of her personal-best 5K time, lowering her school record to 16:42.79 at the Penn Relays. Jefferson was the top Lady Flame finisher at last year's ECAC meet, placing sixth in the 10,000-meter final. She has already run 1:40 faster than she did that evening and is listed No. 35 in the nation.
Yet another Liberty storyline will inaugurate on Friday, when Arlene Zelinskas (Sr., Dayton, Ohio) and Marie Williams (Jr., Tampa, Fla.) begin the heptathlon. Zelinskas, one of only three Liberty seniors at the meet (also Travis Campbell [Candler, N.C.] and Caitlyn Sutterfield [Murfreesboro, Tenn.]), will have a full slate of events before her. The fourth-place finisher in March's ECAC indoor pentathlon, Zelinskas will attempt to improve her spot on the NCAA provisional list for the heptathlon on Friday and Saturday. She will also anchor the Lady Flames' 4 x 100 team, high jump Sunday afternoon and serve as an alternate for the 4 x 400 relay unit.
These athletes and the other Liberty female qualifiers hope to help the team move up from last year's ECAC finish, which saw the Lady Flames tie for 34th place. "I think our women are capable of their best finish ever [12th], so we are very excited about this competition," explained Tolsma.
"God has certainly blessed us this year and this is a great way to conclude the team portion of the season," Tolsma continued. "Fifteen of these athletes are also qualified for regionals, so this weekend will be a great tune-up for that as well."
As previously mentioned, the three-day event will kick off with the IC4A decathlon, at Noon Friday. The decathlon will also start Saturday's competition, at 9 a.m. Sunday's final-day action is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., with the ECAC javelin and the IC4A high jump and shot put.
Liberty's IC4A Entrants
Dominic Bolden – 4 x 100
Travis Campbell – 800, 4 x 400
Josh Edmonds – 10,000
Josh Gilreath – 400, 4 x 400
Jon Hart – Hammer, Shot
Clendon Henderson – Discus, Hammer & Shot
Brandon Hoskins – Decathlon
Phil Leineweber – 400, 4 x 100, 4 x 400
Donald Manns – 4 x 100
Josh McDougal – 1,500, 5,000 & 10,000
Jordan McDougal – 5,000
Clarence Murray – Decathlon
Daniel Newell – Decathlon
Tim O'Donnell – 110H, 400 H & 4 x 400
Matt Parker, 110H, High Jump
Oronde Vassell – 4 x 100
Liberty's ECAC Entrants
Andrea Beckles – 100, 4 x 100
Lacey Cunningham - Javelin
Chenoa Freeman – 400, 4 x 400
Charlene Hibbert – 200, 4 x 100 & 4 x 400
Carol Jefferson – 10,000
Piper Newby - Steeplechase
Ashley Osborne – 5,000
Rebekah Ricksecker – 800, 1,500
Tra' Screen – 4 x 100, 4 x 400
Caitlyn Sutterfield - Discus
Jaime Watson – 800, 4 x 400
Marie Williams – Heptathlon, 4 x 400
Arlene Zelinskas – Heptathlon, High Jump, 4 x 100 & 4 x 400