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Liberty Captures First IC4A Title Since 1996; Lady Flames End Up Seventh in ECAC Meet
The Flames tallied 77 points and held off a hard-charging Virginia squad, which finished second with 66.5 points. Manhattan came in third among the 44 scoring teams, totaling 51 markers.
On the women's side, the Lady Flames' day of action was highlighted by the 4 x 400 relay team's school and conference-record effort. Liberty, which had never placed higher than 12th at the ECAC Championships, ended up with 36 points. The Lady Flames edged Duke, who took eighth with 35 tallies. Georgetown recorded 79 points to capture the team championship. Pittsburgh and Virginia shared runner-up honors, with 63 points each.
McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.), who had won both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events Friday evening, crossed the line first in the 1,500-meter final on Sunday, becoming the first athlete in the 131-year history of the IC4A Championships to win all three of those events at the same meet. His winning time of 3:44.56 edged out Pittsburgh's Tim Konoval, who clocked a 3:45.00. No Liberty athlete had ever won three event titles at a single IC4A meet before Sunday.
Tim O'Donnell (Jr., Hurst, Texas) ran a personal-best time of 51.75 to capture third place in the 400-meter hurdles. He later anchored the Liberty 4 x 400 relay squad to seventh place, in a time of 3:12.89. The other three legs were run by Josh Gilreath (Jr., Reidsville, N.C.), Philip Leineweber (So., New Freedom, Pa.) and the only senior who competed for the Liberty men's team this weekend, Travis Campbell (Candler, N.C.).
Highlighting the Flames' field event performers was Clendon Henderson (Jr., Meadow, Texas). The junior took sixth in the shot put with a personal-best heave of 55-4.25. He actually tied with Northeastern's Nate Hunter, but Hunter was awarded fifth place on the basis of a better second throw. Henderson's mark qualifies him for the NCAA East Regional Championships, where he will also compete in the discus and hammer. He had previously placed second in the discus and seventh in the hammer at this weekend's IC4A meet.
For the second straight day, the Liberty women's 4 x 400 relay team of Marie Williams (Jr., Tampa, Fla.), Tra' Screen (So., Lynchburg, Va.), Charlene Hibbert (Jr., Mississauga, Ontario) and Chenoa Freeman (Fr., Laurel, Del.) broke the Liberty and Big South Conference record in the event. The quartet's time of 3:41.00 nipped Seton Hall for the runner-up position, behind race champion Georgetown. The Lady Flames also qualified for the NCAA East Regional Championships with their Sunday performance.
In the 4 x 100 relay final, the Lady Flames ended up fourth in a time of 46.46. Competing in the event were Andrea Beckles (So., Lynchburg, Va.), Hibbert, Screen and Arlene Zelinskas (Sr., Dayton, Ohio).
Zelinskas added another point to the Lady Flames' total by clearing 5-7 for eighth place in the women's high jump final. She was one of three competitors to top out at 5-7.
The Liberty men's track & field/cross country program has now won four conference titles during the current academic year. In addition to the IC4A outdoor track & field championship, the Flames won Big South cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field trophies.
Four members of the Liberty coaching staff have ties to the 1996 IC4A title-winning team. Brant Tolsma was the head coach and Lance Bingham served as an assistant coach that season. Additionally, current assistant coaches Pete McFadden and Michael Prettyman were athletes for the 1996 Flames.
A sizable contingent of Liberty male and female athletes will now prepare for the NCAA East Regional Championships. The meet, which will determine the field for the NCAA National Championships, is scheduled for May 25-26 at Florida's James G. Pressly Stadium at Percy Beard Track, in Gainesville, Fla.