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LU Men's Track Defends Big South Title

April 19, 2008
|  Rock Hill, S.C.
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The Liberty men's outdoor track & field team won its second straight Big South title and claimed its 13th crown in 15 years.

The Liberty men's outdoor track & field team won its second straight Big South title and claimed its 13th crown in 15 years.

Big South Day 3 Blog

For the second consecutive year and the 13th time in the last 15 seasons, the Liberty men's track & field team won the outdoor conference team title, Saturday at the 2008 New Balance Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames came in third at the meet, hosted by Winthrop at the Irwin Belk Track.

The Flames rolled to victory, scoring 232 points and defeating runner-up Coastal Carolina by 76 points. Liberty completes its second straight Big South "Triple Crown," after the Flames previously won the Big South men's cross country and indoor track titles this season.

On the women's side, Liberty totaled 154 points. The defending Big South champions took third place, finishing behind Coastal Carolina (230 points) and Charleston Southern (186 points).

Liberty took home a number of individual honors at the conclusion of the meet. For the second year in a row, Jon Hart (Sr., Wyomissing, Pa.) was voted Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer. He won the hammer and shot put competitions, setting meet records in both. On Saturday, he placed fifth in the discus.

Clarence Powell (Marianna, Fla.) was one of Liberty's six event winners on Saturday, sailing out to 50-0.75 on his final triple jump attempt. That effort, coupled with sixth-place finishes in both the high jump and long jump, earned him Men's Freshman of the Year laurels. Powell was also the Big South Men's Freshman of the Year indoors.

Brant Tolsma was tabbed Big South Men's Coach of the Year, garnering his 38th career conference coach of the year award in his 22nd year at Liberty.

Finally, Clendon Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas) claimed the Big South Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, just as he did at the Big South Indoor Championships. Henderson was another of Saturday's victors for the Flames, capturing the discus crown for the second consecutive season. His winning toss of 183-0 eclipsed his own meet record. Earlier in the meet, the kinesiology major with a 3.71 GPA was second in the shot put and fifth in the hammer.

For the Lady Flames, Rebekah Ricksecker (Jr., Laurel, Del.) made the women's Big South All-Academic Team. An elementary education major with a 3.95 GPA, Ricksecker successfully defended her women's 1,500-meter title on Saturday, clocking 4:36.00. The junior then came back to claim a second All-Big South honor, claiming second in the 800 meters in 2:13.87.

Other than Powell and Henderson, the Liberty men's team won two more events on Saturday. Evans Kigen (So., Eldoret, Kenya), Friday evening's steeplechase winner, ran away with the men's 5,000-meter final on Saturday. His winning time of 14:22.40 left him 10.2 seconds in front of the runner-up, his teammate Jordan McDougal (R-Jr., Peru, N.Y.).

Kolby Shepherd (Fr., Dublin, Ga.) is now undefeated in the pole vault this season, after clearing 16-0.75 to win the Big South title on Saturday. He was also the Big South indoor pole vault champion and became Liberty's first men's pole vault winner at the conference meet since 2002.

Two additional Liberty men's performers captured All-Big South honors during the meet's final day. Brandon Hoskins (Sr., Garden City, Texas) did so four times in his five Saturday events. He claimed second-place finishes in the 400-meter hurdles (54.05 seconds) and javelin (189-9) and took third in both the pole vault (15-1) and the discus (150-7). In his fifth event, Hoskins ended up fourth in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.12 seconds. All told, he totaled a meet-best 33 points by himself.

Junior Matt Parker (Rome, N.Y.) claimed runner-up honors in the men's 110-meter hurdles for the second consecutive year. His time was 14.63, into a stiff headwind.

The women's team's two best events on Saturday were the 800 and 1,500-meter races. Jaime Watson (Jr., Ravenna, Mich.) broke away from the field at the bell to win her third straight 800-meter crown, in 2:12.28. Ricksecker won a close race for second.

In the 1,500-meter run, Ricksecker won and was followed closely by freshman teammate Kati Albright (Wake Forest, N.C.). Albright's runner-up time was 4:37.87.

Carol Jefferson (Sr., Schwenksville, Pa.) ran with the lead pack for the entire 5,000-meter run before finishing as runner-up for the second time at the meet, in 17:29.47. She was also the 10K runner-up Thursday.

The Lady Flames' other big points on Saturday came from the sprinting corps. Brittany Heath (So., Freeport, Grand Bahamas), Charlene Hibbert (Sr., Mississauga, Ontario), Chenoa Freeman (So., Lincoln, Del.) and Andrea Beckles (Jr., Lynchburg, Va.) teamed up for a second-place finish in the afternoon's opening running event, the 4 x 100 relay. The quartet's time was 46.42.

Individually, Beckles was third in the 100-meter dash, clocking 12.09 seconds. Freeman came in third at 400 meters, posting a 56.13.

The Flames and Lady Flames will be split up between two prestigious meets this coming week. Hart, Henderson and Parker will head to Des Moines, Iowa, the site of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, to compete in the Drake Relays. Other athletes will compete in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

Men's Final Team Standings:
1) Liberty – 232

2) Coastal Carolina – 156
3) VMI – 92
4) High Point – 88
5) Charleston Southern – 84
6) Radford – 81
7) Winthrop – 69
8) UNC Asheville – 15

Women's Final Team Standings:
1) Coastal Carolina – 230
2) Charleston Southern – 186
3) Liberty – 154
4) High Point – 72
5) Winthrop – 62
6) Radford – 60
7) VMI – 42
8) UNC Asheville – 7

Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer
Alonzo Spurley, Charleston Southern

Women's Most Outstanding Track Performer
Dionne Gibson, Charleston Southern

Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer
Jon Hart, Liberty

Women's Most Outstanding Field Performer
Shemelia Brandon, Radford

Men's Freshman of the Year
Clarence Powell, Liberty

Women's Freshman of the Year
Misha Morris, Charleston Southern

Men's All-Academic Team
Clendon Henderson, Liberty
Blair Paul, Coastal Carolina
Josh Morgan, High Point
Ben Switzer, VMI
Justin Meade, Winthrop
Sean Bossman, Radford
Erik Nabi, UNC Asheville
Jean Pierre Poisson, Charleston Southern

Women's All-Academic Team
Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina
Rebekah Ricksecker, Liberty
Ingrid Allstaedt, UNC Asheville
Jasmine Jones-Green, High Point
Brittany Christian, Radford
Marie Doan, Charleston Southern
Rebecca Holmes, Winthrop

Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Clendon Henderson, Liberty

Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina

Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty

Women's Coach of the Year
Tosha Ansley, Charleston Southern