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Mitchell, Shepherd Win BSC Weekly Honors
Three was the operative number as today's Big South Conference weekly track & field awards were announced. Liberty's Christina Mitchell was tabbed Big South Women's Field Athlete of the Week for the third time this year, while Kolby Shepherd garnered his third straight Men's Field Athlete of the Week honor.
Mitchell's award came as a result of her heptathlon performance at the Texas Relays. The redshirt sophomore finished 15th with a personal-best and ECAC-qualifying 4,968 points. She now ranks No. 22 nationally in the event, after adding 312 points to her previous best score.
Mitchell's performance was the best by a Lady Flame heptathlete since Marie Williams scored 4,985 points at the 2009 ECAC meet. It also moved Mitchell up to No. 5 on Liberty's all-time heptathlon list.
Some of Mitchell's best marks included a personal-best 14.70 clocking in the 100 hurdles, a 38-6 shot put, a personal-best 26.03 effort in the 200 and a 128-7 javelin toss. She now ranks No. 10 on Liberty's all-time 100 hurdles performance list and No. 2 in the heptathlon javelin.
Meanwhile, Shepherd celebrated his 22nd birthday by pole vaulting 17-6.5 at the Texas Relays. The effort, which placed him third in the competition, tied the long-standing school record. Todd Pettyjohn had held the record by himself since the 1993 IC4A meet, marking Liberty's oldest men's outdoor track & field school record on the books.
Shepherd, a redshirt junior, made first-attempt clearances at 16-6.75, 17-0.75 and 17-6.5. As a result, he led the NCAA's top-ranked pole vaulter for 2011 (Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts) and the national champion from the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (Jordan Scott of Kansas) as the bar was raised to 18-0.5. However, Whitt and Scott ended up pulling ahead of Shepherd in the final standings.
Shepherd, whose clearance was just two inches away from the Big South all-time record, is now tied for sixth place on the 2011 NCAA Division I national list for the men's pole vault.
Mitchell and Shepherd are now preparing for the 2011 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held April 21-23 in Lexington, Va. Both athletes will enter the meet as significant favorites in their specialty events. Mitchell owns the conference's top heptathlon score this season by 363 points, while Shepherd has pole vaulted nearly two and a half feet higher than any other Big South athlete in 2011.