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Quartet of Current and Former Liberty Athletes to Compete at USA Track Championships
Liberty juniors Brandon Hoskins and Josh McDougal and 2005 LU graduate Danielle McNaney are scheduled to participate in the AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, in Indianapolis, Ind., this Wednesday through Sunday. Lady Flame freshman Chenoa Freeman will also be in Indianapolis, competing in the Finish Line USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The concurrent events will be contested at the Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium, on the campus of IUPUI. The junior championships will be used to select the United States' delegation to the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships, July 6-8 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The senior event will determine the U.S. team at the 2007 IAAF World Championships, slated for Aug. 25-Sept. 2 in Osaka, Japan.
Five hours of television coverage are planned for the meet, including 8-9 p.m. Friday evening and 7-8 p.m. Saturday evening on ESPN2. NBC will broadcast Saturday's action from 2-3 p.m. and Sunday's final-day events from 1-3 p.m.
The four current and former Liberty student-athletes who are entered are previewed below, in order of competition.
Josh McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.) – Men's 10,000 Meters
When: Thursday at 8:20 p.m.
How He Got Here: McDougal qualified for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with his personal-best 28:27.65 clocking at Stanford's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29. The time ranks him 16th fastest out of 24 race entrants. McDougal has enjoyed his most successful year of competition at the 10,000-meter distance. Most recently, the 11-time All-American placed third in the event at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, one day before taking fourth at 5,000 meters. McDougal captured Big South and IC4A titles in the 10K earlier in the year.
Who to Watch: McDougal is entered in the 10,000-meter national final for the second straight season. A year ago, Jorge Torres was a surprise winner in his first-ever 10K race on the track. He is scheduled to defend his title this year. The top entrant is Abdi Abdirahman, at 27:22.81, while Oregon's Galen Rupp, the collegiate record holder (27:33.48), is also entered. Track & Field News has tabbed former Colorado standout Dathan Ritzenhein as the favorite in a deep field.
Danielle McNaney (2005 Liberty Graduate) – Heptathlon
When: Day one action opens Friday at 10 a.m. Day two action starts Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
How She Got Here: McNaney, who still holds the Liberty and Big South Conference heptathlon records (5,504 points), scored a personal-best 5,673 points to place sixth at the 2006 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The mark was good enough to earn McNaney a return trip to the national meet, where she is seeded 13th out of 19. She also helped Team USA defeat Germany in the Nike Combined Events Challenge last August, by scoring a team-high 5,475 points.
Who to Watch: GiGi Johnson, the 2006 national champion with 6,183 points, is back to defend her crown. She is Track & Field News' pick to win again. Johnson will be challenged by Diana Pickler, who just graduated from Washington State. Pickler, the top entrant with a personal best of 6,205, was disqualified in the 200-meter dash at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships two weeks ago, costing her a chance at the national title.
Brandon Hoskins (Jr., Garden City, Texas) – Decathlon
When: Day one action opens Friday at 10:30 a.m. Day two action starts Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
How He Got Here: Hoskins became an All-American in the decathlon for the first time, placing seventh with a career-high score of 7,561 at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, two weeks ago. The junior from the Lone Star State, who was injured for much of the year, won the other two decathlons he entered this spring, claiming the Big South and IC4A crowns. He is making his first trip to the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and is seeded 17th of 17.
Who to Watch: Bryan Clay, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, is heavily favored to win the decathlon. He scored 8,493 points in May at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Gotzis, Austria, finishing third in the event. Tom Pappas, a four-time U.S. decathlon champion who placed fifth at the 2000 Olympics, is returning to defend his 2006 title. Also entered in the event will be Jake Arnold of Arizona, who recently won his second consecutive NCAA decathlon championship.
Chenoa Freeman (Fr., Lincoln, Del.) – Women's 400 Meters (Junior)
When: Prelims on Friday at 12:35 p.m. (Freeman will run in the last of four heats) and final on Saturday at 3:05 p.m.
How She Got Here: Freeman's fastest 400-meter time of the year, 55.76, actually came as an unattached athlete, at the Lynchburg College Last Chance Meet on May 18. With the effort, she became the No. 5 performer in program history and the 29th of 31 qualifiers for the junior national championships. Freeman anchored the school and conference record-setting 4 x 400 relay squad which clocked a 3:41.00 and competed at the NCAA East Regional Championships, earlier this season. She also placed fourth in the 400 at the Big South Outdoor Championships.
Who to Watch: Texas A&M-bound Jessica Beard, the defending event champion, is a prohibitive favorite to repeat. She recently set a personal best of 51.63 seconds, while winning the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state title for Euclid High School. Freeman will also see a couple familiar faces in the field on Friday. Coastal Carolina freshmen Ikeiylah Brown and Shanta Johnson will also make the trip to Indianapolis to run the 400-meter dash.