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MacDonald, Scott to Compete in Eugene
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Liberty freshman Josh MacDonald and assistant track & field/cross country coach Derek Scott will head to Eugene, Ore., for this weekend's 2011 USA Junior and Senior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Both MacDonald and Scott will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at Hayward Field, beginning with Scott's semifinal race Thursday evening.
Scott will attempt to qualify for the 2011 IAAF World Championships, slated for Aug. 27-Sept. 4 in Daegu, South Korea. Meanwhile, MacDonald will aim to represent Team USA at the 2011 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, July 22-24 in Miramar, Fla.
How to Follow the Flames
ESPN2, Universal Sports and NBC will combine to air 6.5 hours of coverage during the USA Junior and Senior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. However, Scott and McDonald's races fall outside the television coverage windows.
The steeplechase races, and all other events not shown on TV, will be video streamed live by RunnerSpace.com, in partnership with USA Track & Field (USATF).
Flotrack will also be on hand in Eugene, providing extensive analysis and interviews throughout the meet.
Live results will be available for all events, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.
Weather is expected to be quite pleasant in Eugene throughout the four-day meet. On Thursday, the day of Scott's semifinal race, the forecast calls for a high of 68 degrees with mostly sunny skies. Saturday's schedule, which includes both Scott and MacDonald's steeplechase finals, will be contested under mostly sunny conditions and a high temperature of 72.
A Look at Liberty's Competitors
Derek Scott – Senior Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase
Competition Schedule: Semifinal – Thursday at 9:50 p.m. Eastern; Final – Saturday at 6:01 p.m. Eastern
How He Got Here: Scott has kept busy during his first year at Liberty, balancing his coaching responsibilities with his own training. He has fared well on both fronts, guiding Sam Chelanga and the Liberty distance runners to a very successful year while also running some impressive races of his own.
Scott's best event this year has been the steeplechase, and his top performance came at the Mt. SAC Relays, April 14 in Walnut, Calif. He won the race by nine seconds, with a personal-best time of 8:31.52. That effort marked a "B" qualifier for both the 2011 IAAF World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
Scott also placed sixth in the steeplechase at this year's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational and earned an invitation to the prestigious Prefontaine Classic, June 4 at Hayward Field.
Scott previously competed at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which were contested in Albuquerque, N.M. in February. He came in eighth in the men's 3K final at that national championship meet.
Scott's most recent appearance at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships came in 2009, when he ran the 1,500 in Eugene.
The Competition: The top six finishers are back from the men's steeplechase final at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, led by defending national champion Daniel Huling. Huling owns the fastest personal best in the field (8:13.29), but Billy Nelson has notched the fastest time so far in 2011 at 8:22.44.
One name on the start lists should be familiar to local running fans in the Lynchburg area. Donnie Cowart, a graduate of both Rustburg High School and VMI, now competes for Ragged Mountain Racing. He placed ninth at this meet a year ago and owns a personal-best time (8:31.09) almost identical to that of Scott.
Numerous runners will compete in the steeplechase after running the event at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships two weeks ago. Leading the way for the collegiate entrants is Indiana's Andrew Poore, who placed third in the NCAA final.
Road to Daegu: Two semifinal heats will be contested Thursday evening, with the top five finishers and the next four fastest time qualifiers advancing to Saturday's final. Scott is entered in the second heat, along with Nelson and Cowart.
Qualification from the final to Team USA is much more complicated, since only Nelson currently owns the "A" qualifier (8:23.10) for the World Championships. The simplest formula to reach Daegu is to place in the top three of Saturday's final race and clock a time faster than 8:23.10.
Josh MacDonald – Junior Men's Steeplechase
Competition Schedule: Final – Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern
How He Got Here: MacDonald ran a trio of steeplechase races during his freshman season at Liberty, improving his time on each occasion. He made his collegiate steeplechase debut March 18 at the Shamrock Invitational, running 9:22.93 to finish second behind his coach, Scott.
The next weekend, MacDonald cut his time to 9:20.54, earning a sixth-place finish at the Raleigh Relays.
MacDonald's best steeplechase performance of his freshman year came on April 22, when he finished fourth at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His time of 9:15.37 ranks him as the No. 9 performer on Liberty's all-time steeplechase list.
At the Big South meet, MacDonald crossed the line just one second behind High Point's Dakota Peachee, who is the reigning men's steeplechase champion at the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The Competition: As is the case with most junior events, the men's steeplechase field features a nice mixture of high school and collegiate entrants.
The fastest seed time, 8:59.53, belongs to Eddie Owens, a senior at Parker Collegiate High School in New York. That effort ranks No. 4 on the all-time high school list. Owens appears to be in top form right now, as he just won the 2K steeplechase title at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, last weekend in Greensboro, N.C.
The third-place finisher from the Greensboro race, Thomas Diliberto of St. Anthony's High School in New York, is also entered in the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He has run a 6:04.76 for the 2K steeplechase this year.
Three freshmen highlight the collegiate competitors—Max Darrah of Georgetown, Ty McCormack of Clemson and Colin Mearns of Virginia. All three have run faster than 9:05 this season and competed at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet in May.
MacDonald could see several of these runners again in the future, as Georgetown and Virginia are IC4A members and Owens has signed to run at IC4A school Princeton.
Road to Miramar: The top two finishers in Saturday's final will qualify for the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, provided they have run a time of 9:10 or faster this year. MacDonald has not clocked a sub-9:10 steeplechase in 2011, so he would have to do so on Saturday if he hopes to race in Miramar.
If MacDonald is successful in qualifying for Team USA this weekend, he would be following in Scott's footsteps. Scott placed second in the steeplechase at the 2004 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships while he was a freshman at Cornerstone. As a result, Scott donned the Team USA uniform at the 2004 IAAF World Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy.