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McDougal Races to Fourth Place in NCAA 5,000-Meter Final
Liberty junior Josh McDougal bumped his magic number up to 11 Friday evening at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. He placed fourth in the men's 5,000-meter final to earn his 11th career All-America honor and increase his point total at the meet to 11. Meanwhile, Clendon Henderson placed 10th in the men's discus final, the best-ever finish by a Liberty thrower at the national meet.
The efforts of the pair of Liberty juniors have the Flames alone in 14th place at the end of three days of competition. Liberty, which has no competitors entered in Saturday's meet-closing slate of events, scored its most points ever at a NCAA national track & field meet, 13. Defending national champion Florida State has tallied 34 points through the first 13 events and holds a slim, two-point lead over Auburn and a three-point edge over LSU atop the men's team standings.
McDougal (Peru, N.Y.), the only male runner to attempt a 5,000/10,000-meter double at this year's national championships, ended up as an All-American in both events by clocking a 13:41.03 in his third race in three nights. McDougal repeated his All-American distinction at 5,000-meters after placing ninth in the event a season ago.
Colorado's Brent Vaughn towed the field through a very respectable pace for the first nine-plus laps, including an opening mile of 4:20. Chris Solinsky, a senior from Wisconsin and the defending race champion, then broke away from the front pack of seven runners with a prolonged surge, which began just before 4,000 meters. No one could catch Solinsky, and he finished with the third-fastest winning time at the NCAA meet since 1979, a 13:35.12.
McDougal, who had been running on Vaughn's shoulder for much of the race, dropped back to sixth place, following Solinsky's move. He was able to summon a strong final kick, however, clocking 60 seconds for the final lap and 28 seconds for the last 200 meters. The junior from the Empire State passed a pair of runners during the race-ending sprint, including South Alabama senior Tonny Okello, who he nipped at the finish line by just five-hundredths of a second. Bobby Curtis of Villanova, who edged McDougal to win the NCAA East Regional Championship, was the race runner-up, finishing in 13:39.88. Louisville's Wesley Korir came in third.
Henderson (Meadow, Texas) spun his way to a 179-5 throw on his initial effort, and the mark held up as his best of the competition. The junior, making his first trip to the national meet, had improved his own Liberty and Big South record with a 198-2 heave during Wednesday's qualifying round, but the throwers started from scratch on Friday.
Seniors took the top two spots in the discus, paced by BYU's Niklas Arrhenius, whose top throw measured 206-2. Michael Robertson of Stanford finished as the runner-up, two-and-a-half feet behind Arrhenius.
The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will draw to a close Saturday at the Alex G. Spanos Track Complex. Action will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, and the meet will be televised LIVE by CBS from 1-3 p.m.
The AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the Finish Line USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held concurrently in Indianapolis, Ind., starting June 20. McDougal will be one of several Liberty representatives at the meet.