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Liberty Track Enjoys Another Banner Year

June 14, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty swept the men's and women's team titles at the 2011 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Saturday afternoon, Sam Chelanga crossed the finish line as the men's 5K national champion at the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His spectacular performance capped off not only his brilliant collegiate career but also a very successful season for the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams. Below is a summary of some of the Flames and Lady Flames' most notable accomplishments this year, spanning both indoor and outdoor track & field.

Team Accomplishments
Climbing Another Notch on the National Ladder
Sam Chelanga won the men's 5K national title and placed second in the 10K at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, contested June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa. As a result, Liberty tied Illinois, Texas and USC for 12th place in the final men's team standings with 18 points. It was the highest finish ever by a Big South team at either the NCAA Division I Indoor or Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
News and Notes:
-- Liberty had set the previous standard for the conference's highest national finish, tying Kentucky for 13th place at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
-- The Flames' 18 team points in Des Moines equaled the program record for most points scored at either the NCAA Division I Indoor or Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Liberty also tallied 18 points at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
-- The Liberty men's squad also tied Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon and Tulsa for 26th place at the 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. It was the seventh straight year that the Flames have finished in the top 40 at the NCAA indoor meet.

Remaining Among the IC4A's Elite
The Liberty men's squad continued to excel at the IC4A level, sharing runner-up honors at the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships (March 5-6, Boston, Mass.) and placing eighth at the IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 13-15, Princeton, N.J.).
News and Notes:
-- The Flames' indoor team placing equaled the highest finish in program history. Liberty also came in second at the 2008 IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships.
-- This marked the third time in the last four years that Liberty has placed in the top three at the IC4A indoor meet.
-- Liberty has now recorded five straight top-10 finishes at the IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Big South's Best
Liberty nearly claimed its second straight Big South Conference "Double Triple," claiming conference titles in men's and women's cross country, men's and women's indoor track & field and men's outdoor track & field. The Liberty men's program was able to complete its fifth consecutive Big South Triple Crown, consisting of cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field championships.
News and Notes:
-- The men's indoor track & field team outdistanced runner-up VMI, 198-113.
-- The Flames have captured all 14 Big South men's indoor track & field championships ever awarded, marking the longest run of consecutive titles in Big South Conference history in any sport.
-- The Lady Flames defeated Coastal Carolina by a 179.5 to 159.5 count at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, winning for the second straight year and the ninth time in program history.
-- Outdoors, Liberty scored 187.5 points to runner-up Coastal Carolina's 111.5 tallies.
-- The Flames have now won five straight championships and 16 titles in the 18-year history of the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Individual Accomplishments
Chelanga's Curtain Call
Sam Chelanga impressively won the final race of his incredible collegiate career, taking the men's 5K title at the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He also finished as the national runner-up in the indoor 5K and outdoor 10K finals.
News and Notes:
-- Chelanga's 5K title was the fourth NCAA individual national championship of his career but his first at the 5K distance.
-- His winning 5K time of 13:29.30 was the seventh-fastest clocking in NCAA meet history and the fastest winning time since Ryan Hall's 13:22.32 in 2005.
-- Chelanga's 10K clocking at the NCAA meet, 28:12.18, ranks ninth in meet history.
-- At the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Chelanga's 5K time (13:27.34) was the eighth-fastest effort in collegiate history. He now owns two of the eight fastest 5K clockings ever posted in NCAA history.
-- Chelanga finished his career as a 14-time All-American. Ten of those 14 All-America honors were either first or second-place finishes.

Talented Trio
Sam Chelanga was not the only Liberty athlete to compete at the NCAA national level this year. Redshirt senior Elliot Galeone (men's javelin) and redshirt junior Kolby Shepherd (men's pole vault) also qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
News and Notes:
-- This was the seventh straight year Liberty sent a men's distance runner to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the fifth straight year the Flames sent a men's thrower.
-- Galeone reached the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second straight season.
-- Shepherd was Liberty's first men's pole vaulter ever to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Heaping up the Hardware
Below is a list of the considerable amount of awards Liberty athletes and coaches claimed during the 2011 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons.

Liberty Track & Field Award Winners:
Mia Aghaji – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (March 30, May 11)
Anthony Bryant – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (Feb. 2, March 10)
Dacia Bushman – Big South Track Athlete of the Week (Feb. 24, March 30, May 5)
Olivia Charnuski – Big South All-Academic Team (Outdoor)
Sam Chelanga – Bowerman Watch List, USTFCCCA Division I Southeast Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year (Indoor and Outdoor), Big South Track Athlete of the Week (Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 9, Feb. 17, March 18, March 30, June 3)
Josh Edmonds – Big South All-Academic Team (Indoor)
Elliot Galeone – Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer (Outdoor), Big South All-Academic Team (Outdoor), Big South Men's Field Athlete of the Week (March 18, May 5, June 3)
Jennifer Klugh – Big South Women's Outstanding Track Performer (Indoor), Big South All-Academic Team (Indoor), Big South Track Athlete of the Week (Jan. 26, Feb. 17, March 10)
Christina Mitchell – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (Feb. 2, March 10, April 14)
Kolby Shepherd – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (March 30, April 7, April 14, May 11, June 3)
Ryan Smith – Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer (Indoor), Big South Field Athlete of the Week (Jan. 26, Feb. 17)
Brant Tolsma – Big South Men's Coach of the Year (Outdoor)
Isaac Wendland – Big South Track Athlete of the Week (May 11)
Jocelyn Williams – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (May 5)
Geren Woodbridge – Big South Field Athlete of the Week (May 18)

Rewriting the Record Book
Liberty athletes broke or tied 10 different school records during the 2011 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons. Here is a summary of the new standards.

Men's Indoor Track & Field
500 – 1:01.96 – Taylor Courtney (March 6)
1,000 – 2:24.74 – Isaac Wendland (March 6)
3K – 7:48.24 – Sam Chelanga (Feb. 5)

Men's Outdoor Track & Field
Pole Vault – 17-6.5 – Kolby Shepherd (April 9) – Tied Todd Pettyjohn's record
Javelin – 229-5 – Elliot Galeone (April 21)

Women's Indoor Track & Field
200 – 24.87 – Olivia Charnuski (March 5)
5K – 16:56.14 – Jennifer Klugh (Feb. 11)
Weight – 55-0.25 – Melinda Bendik (March 6)

Women's Outdoor Track & Field
Shuttle Hurdles – 58.77 – Olivia Charnuski, Krystle Matthews, Rachel Houseknecht, Christina Mitchell (March 11)
Triple Jump – 42-0.5 – Mia Aghaji (May 5)

Note: Two redshirting Liberty athletes exceeded program records in 2011, but the marks do not officially count in the record book. Kolby Shepherd would have set the Liberty men's indoor pole vault record at 17-7.25, while Melinda Bendik would have boosted her own Liberty women's hammer mark to 198-3.

Conference Champions
Liberty won a total of 32 events at the Big South Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships and three events at the IC4A Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2011. The following is a list of the Flames and Lady Flames' conference champions.

Men's Big South Indoor
Sam Chelanga – Mile
Taylor Courtney – 400
Josh Edmonds – 5K
Evans Kigen – 3K
Clarence Powell – Triple Jump
Ryan Smith – Shot Put
Geren Woodbridge – Heptathlon

Men's Big South Outdoor
Elliot Galeone – Discus & Javelin
Chris Johnson – Triple Jump
Evans Kigen – Steeplechase & 5K
Kolby Shepherd – Pole Vault
Ryan Smith – Shot Put
Geren Woodbridge – Decathlon

Men's IC4A Indoor
Taylor Courtney – 500

Men's IC4A Outdoor
Geren Woodbridge – Decathlon

Women's Big South Indoor
Mia Aghaji – Triple Jump
Meghan Burggraf – 800
Dacia Bushman – 5K
Jennifer Klugh – Mile & 3K
Christina Mitchell – Pentathlon
Shelley Parker – Pole Vault
Alyssa Pegues – Long Jump
Distance Medley Relay (Katie Russo, Kylie McMichael, Meghan Burggraf, Betel Yosef)

Women's Big South Outdoor
Mia Aghaji – Triple Jump
Meghan Burggraf – 800
Dacia Bushman – 5K & 10K
Olivia Charnuski – 100 Hurdles
Jennifer Klugh – 1,500
Christina Mitchell – Heptathlon
Shelley Parker – Pole Vault

Women's ECAC Outdoor
Christina Mitchell – Heptathlon