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Liberty Men's, Women's Cross Country Teams Defend Big South Titles; McDougal Becomes First Four-Time Champion

October 27, 2007
|  Hendersonville, N.C.
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Josh McDougal became the 10th runner in NCAA history to win four-consecutive conference cross country crowns.

Josh McDougal became the 10th runner in NCAA history to win four-consecutive conference cross country crowns.

Saturday morning's results at the New Balance Big South Cross Country Championships must have incited a bit of déjà vu among the conference's coaches. For the second-straight season, Josh McDougal led a 1-2-3 Flames finish on the men's side, helping Liberty win its third-consecutive conference title. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames earned a narrow victory over Coastal Carolina for the second-straight time, in the meet hosted by UNC Asheville at Jackson Park.

McDougal (Sr., Peru, N.Y.) won the men's 8K championship by 1:07 on a challenging course, becoming the first runner in Big South history to win four individual cross country titles. Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.) and Jarvis Jelen (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) followed McDougal across the line, enabling Liberty to defeat High Point, 27-58, for its ninth Big South men's cross country title. Winthrop came in third, with 75 points.

The Lady Flames saw four runners claim All-Big South honors, paced by conference runner-up Piper Newby (Sr., Hayden Lake, Idaho). Liberty held off Coastal Carolina by three points, 36-39, after defeating the Lady Chanticleers by five markers last season. The triumph was the fifth in school history.

Brant Tolsma, in his 22nd season at Liberty, swept the Big South Men's and Women's Coach of the Year awards for the second-consecutive year. His men's and women's cross country and track & field squads have now won seven of the last eight possible Big South titles, dating back to the 2006 Big South Cross Country Championships.

McDougal's winning time was 24:11.7, which garnered him Big South Men's Cross Country Runner of the Year distinction for the fourth-straight year. He also became the 10th runner in NCAA history to win four-consecutive individual conference cross country titles. Jordan McDougal came in at 25:18.6, while Jelen recorded a 25:22.7, finishing second and third, respectively. Each of the three runners won All-Big South recognition. Jelen, the 2006 conference runner-up, became Liberty's eighth three-time All-Big South performer in program history.

Joshua Edmonds (So., Cooperstown, N.Y.) was the top underclassman on Saturday, coming in sixth to earn All-Big South accolades for the second-straight year. Edmonds, who clocked a 25:43.7, was also a member of the Big South All-Academic Team. Freshman Cory Reed (Eldred, N.Y.) completed the Liberty top five, finishing 15th out of 64 runners in a time of 26:58.9.

Fellow freshmen Jordan Whitlock (R-Fr., Elmhurst, Ill.) and Kyle Davidson (Charlotte, N.C.) completed the Liberty top seven. Whitlock finished 32nd in 28:05.6, and Davidson was 39th in a time of 28:33.9.

Newby moved up a spot from 2006, finishing second to Coastal Carolina's Diana Jepchirchir in a personal-best 5K time of 17:45.6. She won All-Big South distinction and was included on the Big South All-Academic Team. Then, a pack of runners in the top 10 played a key role in Liberty's victory for the second-consecutive year at the Big South meet.

Dacia Bushman (Fr., Castalia, Iowa) led the next group of Liberty finishers, earning Big South Women's Freshman of the Year honors with her sixth-place finish and time of 18:04.5. Rebekah Ricksecker (Jr., Laurel, Del.) came in seventh at 18:07.1, with freshman Kati Albright (Wake Forest, N.C.) right on her tail in 18:07.5. All three won All-Big South recognition and all three ran collegiate 5K personal bests.

Rachel Valliere (Sr., San Luis Obispo, Calif.) closed out Liberty's top five, finishing 13th out of 73 in her second race in a Lady Flames uniform. Her official time was 18:37.7. Ashley Osborne (Jr., Bristol, Va.) finished right directly behind Valliere, taking 14th place in a time of 18:41.6, for her best performance of the season.

A pair of Liberty seniors also merit mention. Jo Welch (Castro Valley, Calif.) was the Lady Flames' seventh finisher, coming in 22nd in a time of 19:02.9. Sarah Roberts (Zeiglerville, Pa.) returned from an injury, which had sidelined her all season. The three-time All-Big South honoree finished 51st, in a time of 21:13.7.

Some of Liberty's runners will return to action next Saturday, at the Hokie Open Race, scheduled for 9 a.m. at Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, the top Flames and Lady Flames harriers will now set their sights on the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The meet, which will determine the qualifiers for the NCAA Division I National Championships, will be hosted by Louisville at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m.

Men's 8K Championship

Individual Finishers (64 total finishers in race):
1) Josh McDougal, 24:11.7
2) Jordan McDougal, 25:18.6
3) Jarvis Jelen, 25:22.7

4) Jesse Cherry, High Point, 25:35.4
5) Tamas Kovacs, High Point, 25:40.3
6) Josh Edmonds, 25:43.7
15) Cory Reed, 26:58.9
32) Jordan Whitlock, 28:05.6
39) Kyle Davidson, 28:33.9
46) Mark Brucker, 28:56.5

Team Standings (8 total teams in race):
1) Liberty, 27

2) High Point, 58
3) Winthrop, 75
4) Radford, 100
5) VMI, 110
6) Coastal Carolina, 118
7) UNC Asheville, 205
8) Charleston Southern, 232

Women's 5K Championship

Individual Finishers (73 total finishers in race):

1) Diana Jepchirchir, Coastal Carolina, 17:07.2
2) Piper Newby, 17:45.6
3) Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina, 17:49.7
4) Zsanett Kis, High Point, 17:58.7
5) Kali Burt, High Point, 18:00.5
6) Dacia Bushman, 18:04.5
7) Rebekah Ricksecker, 18:07.1
8) Kati Albright, 18:07.5
13) Rachel Valliere, 18:37.7
14) Ashley Osborne, 18:41.6
22) Jo Welch, 19:02.9
35) Rod'Esther Castor, 19:53.0
44) Carol Jefferson, 20:17.9
51) Sarah Roberts, 21:13.7

Team Standings (8 total teams in race):
1) Liberty, 36
2) Coastal Carolina, 39
3) High Point, 68
4) Radford, 127
5) VMI, 143
6) UNC Asheville, 146
7) Winthrop, 162
8) Charleston Southern, 240