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Liberty Men Lead, Women Second After Day One

February 29, 2008
|  Clemson, S.C.
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Josh McDougal showed no ill effects of a three-month layoff from competition, running a meet-record time of 7:54.85 in the men's 3,000 meters on Friday.

Josh McDougal showed no ill effects of a three-month layoff from competition, running a meet-record time of 7:54.85 in the men's 3,000 meters on Friday.

In search of its 11th-consecutive Big South indoor track & field title, the Liberty men's track & field team won all six events on the opening day of the 2008 New Balance Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The Flames lead the team standings, while the women's squad is second after Friday's opening-day action at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex.

The Liberty men's team, coached by Brant Tolsma, has built a commanding, 98-44 lead over second-place Radford through the meet's first six events. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames are locked in a battle with Coastal Carolina for first place. At the end of day one, the Chanticleers own a slim, 71.5-64 edge over Liberty, which got a pair of victories from freshmen on Friday.

Josh McDougal (Sr., Peru, N.Y.) shone in his first race since Dec. 2, blazing to a 7:54.85 clocking in the 3,000 meters and winning the event by 28 seconds. His time, an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, eclipsed his own meet record. McDougal was followed by teammate Jarvis Jelen (R-Jr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) in third place. Jelen, also competing for the first time in three months, ran an 8:25.21.

McDougal, who has now automatically qualified for the national meet in both the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters, also made a bit of Big South history. The senior became the second athlete in the history of the Big South Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships to win the same event four-straight years. Josh Aydlette from Charleston Southern won the men's weight throw title four times in a row, between 1999 and 2002.

Junior Matt Parker (Rome, N.Y.) needed only one attempt to win the men's long jump. His mark, 23-2.75, is both a personal best and an IC4A qualifier. The Empire State native, who moved up one spot from his runner-up finish in 2007, has now qualified for the IC4A meet in three individual events—the long jump, high jump and 60-meter hurdles. Liberty freshman Clarence Powell (Marianna, Fla.) made a successful debut at the Big South meet, taking third in the long jump with a personal-best leap of 22-0.75.

Parker came back to record his second victory of the day in the men's high jump, unseating two-time defending conference champion Daniel Oseth of Radford. Both men cleared 6-10.25, but Parker became Liberty's first Big South high jump titlist since 2002 on misses.

The Flames continued their string of victories in the next jumping event on the schedule, the pole vault. Freshman Kolby Shepherd (Dublin, Ga.), the reigning ECAC Men's Field Athlete of the Week, added two inches to his Liberty freshman record with his winning clearance of 16-4.75. His effort, which shattered a nine-year-old Big South meet record, put Shepherd nearly eight inches ahead of his nearest qualifier.

Clendon Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas) set the Flames' third meet record of the day, throwing the shot put 58-1.75. Finishing second in the event was Henderson's teammate and 2007 Big South indoor shot put champion, Jon Hart (Sr., Wyomissing, Pa.). Hart's top effort was 52-10.75.

In the final running event of the lengthy day of action at the Clemson Indoor Track Complex, the Liberty distance medley relay quartet pulled out a five-second victory over runner-up VMI. The grouping of Mark Hopely (Fr., Carney's Point, N.J.), Tim O'Donnell (Sr., Hurst, Texas), Kevin Correa (Sr., Forestville, Calif.) and Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.) stopped the clock in 10:12.50. The time qualifies Liberty for next weekend's IC4A Championships.

Liberty senior Clarence Murray (Birdsboro, Pa.), redshirting this season, won the heptathlon the first two times it was contested at the Big South indoor meet. The Flames are in good shape to win the multi-event for the third-consecutive season, as they own the top three spots in the standings through the opening day's four events.

Senior Brandon Hoskins (Garden City, Texas), who seized control of the competition with a 22-5 long jump in the day's second event, tallied 3,088 points. He is 560 points ahead of teammate Matt Tarr (Jr., Madison Twp., Pa.), with three Saturday events remaining. Freshman Geren Woodbridge (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) is third with a score of 2,475 in his Liberty debut.

For the third-straight year, a Liberty athlete took home the pentathlon crown, giving the Lady Flames a fast start in the meet's opening event. This year's winner was freshman Krystle Matthews (Chesapeake, Va.). Matthews took over first place after high jumping 5-1 and maintained her lead the rest of the way. Her personal-best score of 3,203 gave the rookie a 137-point victory. Sheronica Henton (So., Raeford, N.C.) chipped in a third-place finish, totaling 2,903 points.

Matthews was not the only freshman Lady Flame to win an event title on Friday. Mia Aghaji (Chester, Va.) claimed first place in the high jump by going over the bar at 5-3.25. Liberty has now taken the women's high jump crown six-straight years at the Big South indoor meet.

One of the numerous Lady Flames competing in multiple events on Friday was senior Charlene Hibbert (Mississauga, Ontario). Her first effort in the long jump, which reached 17-11.75, held up for second place. She later went on to qualify, along with Chenoa Freeman (So., Lincoln, Del.), for Saturday's 400-meter dash final.

Liberty accumulated 23 team points in the women's 3,000-meter run, by sweeping places two through five. Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.) was the event runner-up for the second-straight year, in a time of 10:05.99. Coming in next was the trio of Dacia Bushman (Fr., Castalia, Iowa), Ashley Osborne (Jr., Bristol, Va.) and Rachel Valliere (Sr., San Luis Obispo, Calif.), in that order.

The second and final day of the New Balance Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles.

Men's Team Standings (Through Six Events)
1) Liberty – 98

2) Radford – 44
3) High Point – 29
4) Winthrop – 24.5
5) VMI – 22.5
6) UNC Asheville – 8
7) Charleston Southern – 4

Women's Team Standings (Through Six Events)
1) Coastal Carolina – 71.5
2) Liberty – 64
3) Radford – 35
4) Charleston Southern – 28.5
5) Winthrop – 18
6) High Point – 7
7) UNC Asheville – 5
8) VMI – 4