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Liberty Prepares for BSC Indoor Championships
The Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will travel to Clemson, S.C., this Friday and Saturday for the 2008 New Balance Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The men's squad will be in search of its 11th-consecutive Big South title, while the Lady Flames will chase their first conference crown since 2005.
The two-day event will begin Friday at 8:30 a.m., with the opening heat of the women's pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. On Saturday, the men's heptathlon 60-meter hurdles will get things underway at 9 a.m.
For a small fee, fans will be able to watch live video streaming of the meet via the Big South EDGE. Click here for more information about this feature, or click "Live Video" on the track & field schedule/results page of LibertyFlames.com.
The Liberty men's track & field team has captured the Big South indoor championship all 10 times the meet has been contested, including a 75-point triumph over Radford a season ago. Head coach Brant Tolsma has his team poised to continue the string of titles in 2008.
"We're not going into the meet worrying about the other teams," Tolsma stated. "We only have to worry about ourselves. Winning is not our only goal. We would like to perform well as a full team."
Men's Events to Keep an Eye On
Mile Run (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.) – Freshman Cory Reed (Eldred, N.Y.) is the Flames' top performer so far this year, as he ranks No. 6 in the Big South at 4:19.23. However, Josh McDougal (Sr., Peru, N.Y.) is the athlete to watch. He has won the event two-straight years and could threaten his own meet record of 4:03.04.
3,000-Meter Run (Friday, 3:15 p.m.) – This promises to be one of the most anticipated events of the weekend, as 12-time All-American Josh McDougal will be running his first race in nearly three months. The three-time defending conference champion at the 3,000-meter distance, McDougal will look to improve his standing on the national performance list. The senior currently ranks No. 19 with his 7:57.90 clocking from Dec. 2.
5,000-Meter Run (Saturday, 3:55 p.m.) – Josh McDougal's younger brother Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.) will take center stage. He has captured consecutive Big South indoor 5,000-meter crowns and owns the meet record of 14:29.74. High Point junior Tamas Kovacs, who has run a time of 14:37.16 this season, figures to be among McDougal's chief competitors.
60-Meter Hurdles (Prelims-Friday, 1:45 p.m.; Final-Saturday, 1:10 p.m.) – Junior Matt Parker (Rome, N.Y.) has posted the Big South's top time this season, 8.20 seconds. He will look to become Liberty's first conference titlist in the event since the Flames took home first place six-straight years between 1998 and 2003.
High Jump (Friday, 5:15 p.m.) – Parker possesses the season's best mark, 7-0.25, among a talented high jumping field. Five men, including Liberty freshman Clarence Powell (Marianna, Fla.) have gone over 6-8.75 this season. Thus, the meet record of 6-11.5 should come under fire. Last season, Radford's Daniel Oseth won the event and Parker captured runner-up honors.
Pole Vault (Friday, 5 p.m.) – The men's pole vault has been down in the Big South for several years, but it appears Liberty freshman Kolby Shepherd (Dublin, Ga.) is spearheading a resurgence in the event. He cleared a program freshman record 16-2.75 last Saturday, at the Virginia Tech Challenge. If Shepherd can repeat his feat on Friday, he will establish a Big South meet record. Also entered in the field is Flames senior Brandon Hoskins (Garden City, Texas), who won the event in 2006.
Triple Jump (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.) – Another Liberty freshman, Powell, heads the Big South triple jump performance list by more than two feet, at 49-11.75. Powell, who has come tantalizingly close to 50 feet several times this season, will aim to break the barrier on Saturday. His top competition may be Radford junior Nic Moore, the 2007 conference runner-up who has jumped 47-8.5 in 2008.
Shot Put (Friday, 5 p.m.) – Liberty hopes to rack up some points in the men's shot put, as Clendon Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas), Jon Hart (Sr., Wyomissing, Pa.) and Andrew Bartels (Jr., Grantham, Pa.) rank 1-2-3, respectively, on the Big South performance list. Hart won the event a year ago, with a meet-record heave of 53-9.25. Henderson enters the 2008 meet as the prohibitive favorite, though. He ranks No. 7 nationally with his personal-best mark of 61-10.5.
Weight Throw (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.) – A year ago, Hart placed second in the weight throw and Henderson was third. This season, the senior duo looks to score well once again. Hart owns the Big South's best throw, 65-2, and sits No. 24 nationally. He will take aim at the meet record of 66-7 and hope to improve his shot at qualifying for the national meet. Radford's Timothy Morse, entered at 64-2.25, could also challenge.
Heptathlon (Friday, 8:45 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.) – Liberty senior Clarence Murray (Birdsboro, Pa.) has won both Big South heptathlon crowns since the event was instituted in 2006. However, he is redshirting this season. In his absence, fellow senior and two-time All-American Brandon Hoskins (Garden City, Texas) appears to be the athlete to focus on. Hoskins, who owns a season best of 5,121 points, hopes to capture his first Big South heptathlon title and eclipse his own conference record of 5,375.
The Liberty women's track & field team won seven of the first eight Big South indoor team titles, but Coastal Carolina has taken the mantle the last two seasons. The Lady Flames and Chanticleers are expected to battle for first place again in 2008.
"We are the underdogs on paper," explained Tolsma. "However, we're not going in trying to get second place. We'll get to see the heart of our girls in competition this weekend. We always have fun competing with Coastal Carolina, a quality team with a classy coach."
Women's Events to Keep an Eye On
60-Meter Dash (Prelims-Friday, 3:45 p.m.; Final-Saturday, 1:45 p.m.) – Junior Andrea Beckles (Lynchburg, Va.) has fond memories of last year's Big South indoor meet. She finished third, after setting the school record with a 7.62 clocking in the prelims. This season, Beckles' best time is 7.69, which makes her one of eight entrants with qualifying marks between 7.60 and 7.70. Leading the way is the defending event champion, sophomore Natalie Pearson of UNC Asheville.
400-Meter Dash (Prelims-Friday, 4:45 p.m.; Final-Saturday, 1:25 p.m.) – Chenoa Freeman (So., Lincoln, Del.) has been arguably the Lady Flames' best performer so far this season. The two-time Big South Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Week, Freeman set a Liberty and Big South record by running the 400 in 55.70 seconds at the Virginia Tech Challenge, last Saturday. Charlene Hibbert (Sr., Mississauga, Ontario) ran a personal-best 57.01 at the same meet and is No. 3 on the Big South performance list.
800-Meter Run (Prelims-Friday, 5:45 p.m.; Final-Saturday, 2:05 p.m.) – The 800-meter run promises to be one of the best, most competitive events of the women's championships. Liberty has three entrants—Kati Albright (Fr., Wake Forest, N.C.), Rebekah Ricksecker (Jr., Laurel, Del.) and Jaime Watson (Jr. Ravenna, Mich.)—who have run faster than 2:16 this season. Watson, the best of the three at 2:14.61, is the two-time defending conference 800-meter titlist outdoors. High Point features Andrea Bolyki, who set a conference record with a 2:12.10 last weekend, and defending champion Sumiyya Hunter, entered at 2:12.36.
Mile Run (Saturday, 11:50 a.m.) – The chief protagonists from the 800-meter run will reunite in the mile event. The group is headed by Albright, whose 4:58.53 time in her collegiate debut has held up as the conference's fastest of the season. Coastal Carolina junior Felicitas Mensing, who has run 5:02.38 this year and was the 2007 champion, will also be a contender.
3,000-Meter Run (Friday, 2:30 p.m.) – For much of the season, this event has been dominated by Coastal Carolina. Diana Jepchirchir tops the conference performance list at 9:55.45 and Mensing won the event in 2007. The Lady Flames' Ashley Osborne (Jr., Bristol, Va.) burst onto the scene by running 9:57.93 last weekend, stamping herself a contender for the 3,000-meter crown.
5,000-Meter Run (Saturday, 3:10 p.m.) – The next-to-last running event on the schedule is one of Liberty's strongest. Four of the top six runners on the conference performance list are Lady Flames, led by two-time defending conference champion Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.). VMI freshman Hannah Granger has run the fastest 5,000 meters in the Big South this season, though, a 17:31.94.
4 x 400 Meter Relay (Saturday, 4:25 p.m.) – If the race for the team title comes down to the women's 4 x 400 relay, it will add even more excitement to an already-anticipated showdown between Liberty and Coastal Carolina. Both squads have run under 3:50 this season. Most recently, the Lady Flame quartet of Freeman, Brittany Heath (So., Freeport, Grand Bahamas), Hibbert and Watson broke the Big South record by crossing the line in 3:47.16, last Saturday at Virginia Tech. The existing meet record of 3:49.10 was set by Coastal Carolina in 2006.
High Jump (Friday, 7 p.m.) – Liberty freshman Mia Aghaji (Chester, Va.) has only high jumped once this year, but her 5-4.5 clearance at Virginia Tech on Jan. 12 is still the conference's best. Her top competition may come from another freshman, Coastal Carolina's Kandisa Allicock, entered at 5-3.
Triple Jump (Saturday, 2 p.m.) – Aghaji currently ranks No. 3 on the Big South triple jump list, at 39-1.25. She will give the Lady Flames a chance for some good points in a competitive event. Coastal Carolina's LeAuna Sistrunk is the lone Big South athlete who has gone past 40 feet this season, reaching 40-5.5.
Pentathlon (Friday, 8:30 a.m.) – 2007 Big South pentathlon champion Marie Williams (Sr., Tampa, Fla.) is redshirting, but the Lady Flames still hope for some high finishes. Liberty holds three of the top four spots on the conference performance list. Ranking first is freshman Krystle Matthews (Chesapeake, Va.), with a top score of 3,043.