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McDougal Runs to Third NCAA Southeast Regional Crown; Flames, Lady Flames Claim Best-Ever Regional Finishes

November 10, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Josh McDougal won the third regional title of his career on Saturday, outkicking rival Jacob Korir of Eastern Kentucky in the homestretch. (Photo by Eric Miller, Minnesota Athletic Photography)

Josh McDougal won the third regional title of his career on Saturday, outkicking rival Jacob Korir of Eastern Kentucky in the homestretch. (Photo by Eric Miller, Minnesota Athletic Photography)

Liberty senior Josh McDougal avenged his loss at last year's NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, outkicking Eastern Kentucky's Jacob Korir to win the third regional title of his career, Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, in Louisville, Ky. His first-place finish lifted the Flames to their highest-ever regional finish, fifth place. Meanwhile, Piper Newby's record-setting run helped the Lady Flames take their best regional placing in program history, seventh.

A season ago, Korir pulled away from McDougal (Peru, N.Y.) in the late stages of the regional championship on the same course in Louisville, dealing Liberty's standout his only career setback outside of the national meet. This time around, McDougal dropped the hammer with 300 meters remaining and raced to a five-second win over Korir.

The senior's winning time of 29:30.70 for the 10K course set a new Liberty and Big South Conference record. The victory earns McDougal an invite to the NCAA Division I National Championships, to be contested in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 19.

McDougal was one of three Liberty men's runners to finish in the top 20 on Saturday, and the Flames' front running paid off. Liberty jumped up two spots from its 2006 regional finish, taking fifth place out of 29 squads, totaling 168 points. N.C. State scored 69 points to edge the host Cardinals by a single marker for the team title.

On the women's side, Lady Flame senior Piper Newby (Hayden Lake, Idaho) shaved time off her own 6K school record and rookie Dacia Bushman (Castalia, Iowa) improved upon her Liberty freshman mark. A tightly-bunched pack followed the leading duo, limiting Liberty's team score to 223 and putting the Lady Flames in seventh place in the final standings. The placing was a five-place improvement from 2006 at the same meet. N.C. State won its second team title of the day, as the Wolfpack's women's team defeated Duke, 106-114.

McDougal's previous best 10K cross country time was 29:32.6, when he finished fourth at the 2005 NCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships. He earned all-region distinction on Saturday, along with Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.) and Jarvis Jelen (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.).

The younger McDougal brother lopped nearly a minute and a half off his previous 10K cross country personal best, clocking a 30:27.45 for 16th place out of 200 finishers. He may have a chance to join his brother on the starting line at the national meet, and will find out his fate Sunday evening.

Jelen also recorded a personal record (PR) on Saturday, coming in 20th in 30:32.70. Josh Edmonds (So., Cooperstown, N.Y.) dipped under 32 minutes for the first time at the regional meet. He did so in a big way, finishing 40th in a time of 31:15.95.

Kalib Wilkinson (Sr., Silverdale, Wash.), coming back off injury, closed out Liberty's scorers. He crossed the line in 94th place after running a 32:28.65. Cory Reed (Fr., Eldred, N.Y.) was 106th in a time of 32:45.50 and Jordan Whitlock (R-Fr., Elmhurst, Ill.) took 170th in 34:47.45.

For the Lady Flames, Newby's last collegiate cross country race netted her all-region honors. She also cut 15 seconds off the Liberty 6K record with her 21:07.70 effort and came in 17th overall. Her finish was the best by a Lady Flame at the regional meet since assistant coach Heather (Sagan) Zealand came in sixth at the 2001 race.

Newby was not alone in the sub-22:00 club, as she was joined by four teammates among the race's top 59 finishers. Bushman headed Liberty's second pack with a 44th-place finish and a time of 21:39.30. She was the ninth-fastest freshman on the day.

A pair of Lady Flame juniors then crossed the line nearly simultaneously. Rebekah Ricksecker (Laurel, Del.) wrapped up a breakthrough campaign by placing 52nd in 21:43.50. Classmate Ashley Osborne (Bristol, Va.) followed 1.45 seconds behind, taking 55th of 223 in her best performance of the year. She also cut a minute and a half off her 6K cross country PR.

Freshman Kati Albright (Wake Forest, N.C.) served as the Lady Flames' No. 5 runner, completing the course in 21:49.20 for 59th. Rachel Valliere (Sr., San Luis Obispo, Calif.) also ran well for coach Brant Tolsma's squad on Saturday. She stopped her watch at 22:07.35 and took the 76th position.

Josh McDougal will now shoot for his fourth cross country All-America certificate at the NCAA Division I National Championships, Nov. 19 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. He will find out Sunday at 6 p.m. on ncaasports.com if he will have any teammates in the race.

Men's 10K Championship

Individual Finishers (200 total finishers in race):
1) Josh McDougal, 29:30.70 (Liberty and Big South Conference Record)

2) Jacob Korir, Eastern Kentucky, 29:36.10
3) Wesley Korir, Louisville, 29:43.70
4) Christo Landry, William & Mary, 29:44.25
5) Cory Thorne, Louisville, 29:56.60
16) Jordan McDougal, 30:27.45
20) Jarvis Jelen, 30:32.70
40) Josh Edmonds, 31:15.95
94) Kalib Wilkinson, 32:28.65
106) Cory Reed, 32:45.50
170) Jordan Whitlock, 34:47.45

Team Standings (29 total teams in race):
1) N.C. State, 69
2) Louisville, 70
3) William & Mary, 74
4) Virginia, 116
5) Liberty, 168
6) Clemson, 188
7) Virginia Tech, 228
8) Eastern Kentucky, 231
9) Wake Forest, 282
10) Appalachian State, 284 

Women's 6K Championship

Individual Finishers (223 total finishers in race):
1) Brianna Felnagle, North Carolina, 19:52.25
2) Emily Harrison, Virginia, 20:00.00
3) Tasmin Fanning, Virginia Tech, 20:05.05
4) Maddie McKeever, Duke, 20:17.05
5) Diana Jepchirchir, Coastal Carolina, 20:22.50
17) Piper Newby, 21:07.70 (Liberty Record)
44) Dacia Bushman, 21:39.30 (Liberty Freshman Record)
52) Rebekah Ricksecker, 21:43.50
55) Ashley Osborne, 21:44.95
59) Kati Albright, 21:49.20
76) Rachel Valliere, 22:07.35

Team Standings (31 total teams in race):
1) N.C. State, 106
2) Duke, 114
3) North Carolina, 124
4) Kentucky, 141
5) Virginia Tech, 155
6) Virginia, 166 
7) Liberty, 223
8) Wake Forest, 233
9) Richmond, 257
10) William & Mary, 269