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McDougal Runs 13:45 5K at Liberty Kickoff

December 1, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Josh McDougal runs by himself in the late stages of his 13:45 5K, Saturday at the Liberty Kickoff.

Josh McDougal runs by himself in the late stages of his 13:45 5K, Saturday at the Liberty Kickoff.

Less than two weeks after winning the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, Liberty senior Josh McDougal returned to action at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center, on the second day of the season-opening Liberty Kickoff. McDougal won the Asics men's 5,000 meters in a facility record and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 13:45.16, highlighting Saturday's competition.

On a day when four Tolsma Indoor Track Center records and three Liberty standards were eclipsed, McDougal stole the show. Pulled along by David Cheromei through the early laps, the Liberty senior split 4:16 for the mile and 8:35 for two miles. McDougal then cruised home to victory, eight seconds ahead of Liberty student Sam Chelanga's 13:53.16.

Jon Hart (Sr., Wyomissing, Pa.) got his final season started in fine fashion in the day's opening event, the men's weight throw. Hart's winning mark of 65-2 broke his own school record and provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Teammate Clendon Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas) followed in second place with a career-best heave of 60-7.75.

Henderson later added another runner-up finish in the men's shot put, setting a Liberty record in the process. His best throw, 59-9.75, earned provisional qualification to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Junior Phil Leineweber (New Freedom, Pa.) was the lone men's 400-meter runner to dip under 50 seconds, in a large field of 50 participants. His winning time was 49.58.

Liberty found success in the women's 400-meter dash as well. Jaime Watson (Jr., Ravenna, Mich.) and Chenoa Freeman (So., Lincoln, Del.) swept the top two places. Watson was victorious in 57.20, the fastest clocking by a Lady Flame quarter-miler in 15 years. She now ranks No. 2 on Liberty's all-time indoor list.

Watson and Freeman were joined by Charlene Hibbert (Sr., Mississauga, Ontario) and freshman Mia Aghaji (Chester, Va.) on a victorious 4 x 400 relay team, in the final running event of the afternoon. The quartet opened the year with a 3:56.44, pulling away from James Madison for a four-second triumph.

A number of Liberty freshmen posted solid performances in their collegiate debuts, headlined by Clarence Powell (Marianna, Fla.). Powell set a school record in his first collegiate event, the men's triple jump. His top mark of 48-10.75 nabbed second place in the event. The Floridian then won the high jump, clearing 6-10.25.

Aghaji not only ran on the Lady Flames' first-place relay unit, but also finished second in the women's triple jump, just one-half inch behind event champion Candace Nelms of James Madison. Aghaji's distance of 39-0.5 already makes her the third-best performer in program history.

Jeff Ferris (Culpeper, Va.), also a Liberty rookie, was the runner-up in the men's 60-meter hurdles, clocking an 8.31. His time of 8.30 in the prelims was the fastest by a Liberty hurdler since 1999.

Freshman Kati Albright (Wake Forest, N.C.) completed the mile in 4:58.53, finishing third in the event. She is now Liberty's No. 3 all-time performer in the indoor mile.

The Asics men's heptathlon wrapped up on Saturday, with the final three events. Liberty's Brandon Hoskins (Sr., Garden City, Texas) moved up one spot during the day and finished second, totaling 5,121 points. Stephen F. Austin's Aaron Harlan captured the heptathlon title with 5,246 points.

Also placing second for the Lady Flames on Saturday were Lacey Cunningham (So., Spring Hill, Kan.) and Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.). Cunningham began her sophomore campaign with a personal-best shot put distance of 40-5.5. Jefferson then stopped the clock at 17:38.66 in the women's 5,000-meter run, finishing just ahead of teammate Rachel Valliere's (Sr., San Luis Obispo, Calif.) third-place effort, in 17:42.21.

Four Tolsma Indoor Track Center facility records were eclipsed on Saturday. In addition to McDougal's record-breaking men's 5,000-meter performance, Ashley Early of Virginia Tech, competing unattached, cleared 13-7.25 to win the women's pole vault. The men's pole vault standard went down as well, when unattached athlete Brian Mondschein boosted his own record to 17-6.5. Anthony Bryant, also unattached, sailed to 50-0 in the men's triple jump.

The Liberty Kickoff meet has one remaining event, the men's 3,000 meters, which will go off at 4:15 p.m. Sunday. McDougal will compete in the race and attempt to gain another automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. A 7:55.80 or better will be necessary to secure his spot.

The rest of the Liberty student-athletes will take an extended Christmas break from competition, before resuming the 2007-08 indoor season on Jan. 11, at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The two-day meet will be held at Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Va.

Asics Men's Heptathlon Final Scores
1) Aaron Harlan, Stephen F. Austin – 5,246
2) Brandon Hoskins, Liberty – 5,121
3) Raffael Craig, Shore AC Track Club – 5,020
4) David Lewis, Virginia – 4,997
5) Daniel Newell, Liberty – 4,878
6) Geren Woodbridge, Unattached – 4,626
7) Keith Gaines, Unattached – 4,451
8) Logan Brelsford, Unattached – 4,338
9) Michael Munson, VMI – 4,026
10) Matt Tarr, Liberty – 3,554
11) Kyle Ligafelt, Unattached – 3,338
DNF) Ravanno Ferguson, Unattached; Tyler Tucker, Unattached;
Chad Andrews-Stephen F. Austin