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Liberty Men's And Women's Teams Sweep Big South Cross Country Titles

October 28, 2006
|  Summerville, S.C.
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2006 Big South Men's Cross Country Champion, Josh McDougal

2006 Big South Men's Cross Country Champion, Josh McDougal

For the first time since 1992, the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams have won Big South Conference cross country championships in the same season. Josh McDougal also took the men's individual conference title for the third-straight season at Saturday morning's New Balance Big South Conference Cross Country Championships Presented by UCS, hosted by Charleston Southern at Miler Country Club in Summerville, S.C. 

The Flames and Lady Flames used differing strategies, but achieved the same end result. Coach Brant Tolsma's men's team used a 1-2-3 finish by McDougal (Jr., Peru, N.Y.), Jarvis Jelen (Jr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Jordan McDougal (R-So., Peru, N.Y.) to key a 32-57 win over runner-up Coastal Carolina. The Flames defended their Big South crown from a season ago and won the conference title for the eighth time overall. After the meet, Josh McDougal was named Big South Runner of the Year.  Tolsma received Coach of the Year honors and Drew Ponder (Jr., Colonial Heights, Va.) was included on the Big South All-Academic Team.

Coastal Carolina looked poised to win its sixth-consecutive women's championship as it placed three runners in the top four, led by freshman Julia Viellehner. The Lady Flames were able to overcome the Chanticleers' frontrunning by utilizing Piper Newby's (Jr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) third-place effort and then sweeping places five through eight in the individual standings. When the final scores were tallied, Liberty held off Coastal by a slim, 29-34 margin, taking its first Big South championship since 2000 and its fourth conference title overall. Tolsma also received Coach of the Year laurels on the women's side and Newby was named to the Big South All-Academic Team.

Jelen and the McDougal brothers ran by themselves at the front of the pack in the 8K men's race, all finishing within .54 seconds of one another. Josh McDougal crossed the finish line first in a time of 24:46.42, keeping his unbeaten streak outside of the national meet alive. Jelen's time was 24:46.70 while the younger McDougal finished in 24:46.96. 

The three of them were joined on the All-Big South team by freshman Josh Edmonds (Cooperstown, N.Y.). Edmonds placed ninth in a time of 25:30 to earn that honor. Drew Ponder (Jr., Colonial Heights, Va.) closed out the top five with a 17th-place finish (25:58). 

Nate Edwards (Jr., Warren, Mich.) and Travis Campbell (Sr., Candler, N.C.) were also part of the victorious Flames squad. Edwards was 47th out of 70 runners in a time of 27:52 on the soggy course. Campbell, competing for the first time this season, was 57th in 28:35. 

On the women's side, Newby cracked the 18-minute mark for the first time in a 5K race, running a 17:55. Carol Jefferson (Jr., Schwenksville, Pa.) paced the tight second pack for the Lady Flames, posting a time of 18:14 that was good for fifth place. Sarah Roberts (Jr., Zeiglerville, Pa.), the runner-up at this meet last season, placed sixth this time around, crossing the line in 18:20. This is the third time that Roberts has been an All-Big South performer in her cross country career. 

Joining Newby, Jefferson and Roberts on the All-Big South roster were a pair of sophomores who each experienced significant breakthrough performances on Saturday. Rebekah Ricksecker (Laurel, Del.) placed seventh with a time of 18:26.02. Following right on Ricksecker's heels was classmate Ashley Osborne (Bristol, Va.). Osborne's official time was 18:26.85. 

Rounding out the top seven for the Liberty women were junior Jo Welch (Castro Valley, Calif.) (21st place, 19:00) and redshirt junior Reyna Quiroz (Canyonville, Ore.) (23rd place, 19:03). 

Most of the Liberty runners who competed on Saturday will now set their sights on the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. That meet will be held on Nov. 11 at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., beginning with the women's 6K race at 11 a.m. and finishing with the men's 10K race at 12:15 p.m. 

Some Liberty athletes will travel to Blacksburg next Saturday to compete in the Virginia Tech Hokie Open. That competition gets underway at 9 a.m.

Men's 8K Race

Individual Finishers:
1) Josh McDougal, 24:46
2) Jarvis Jelen, 24:46
3) Jordan McDougal, 24:46
4) Jamie McCarthy, Coastal Carolina, 25:09
5) Doug Currie, Coastal Carolina, 25:10
6) Tamas Kovacs, High Point, 25:15
7) Daniel Legesse, Radford, 25:19
8) Jesse Cherry, High Point, 25:23
9) Josh Edmonds, 25:30
10) Jon Harmon, UNC Asheville, 25:34
17) Drew Ponder, 25:58
47) Nate Edwards, 27:52
57) Travis Campbell, 28:35

Team Standings:
1) Liberty, 32

2) Coastal Carolina, 57
3) High Point, 62
4) VMI, 113
5) Radford, 128
6) Winthrop, 137
7) Birmingham-Southern, 159
8) UNC Asheville, 202
9) Charleston Southern, 290

Women's 5K Race

Individual Finishers:
1) Julia Viellehner, Coastal Carolina, 17:30
2) Diana Jepchirchir, Coastal Carolina, 17:53
3) Piper Newby, 17:55
4) Felicitas Mensing, Coastal Carolina, 18:04
5) Carol Jefferson, 18:14
6) Sarah Roberts, 18:20
7) Rebekah Ricksecker, 18:26
8) Ashley Osborne, 18:26

9) Emily Mase, UNC Asheville, 18:28
10) Kali Burt, High Point, 18:30
21) Jo Welch, 19:00
23) Reyna Quiroz, 19:03
42) Leah Ramey, 20:13
46) Rebekah Wahlquist, 20:31
56) Meleia Johnson, 21:19

Team Standings:
1) Liberty, 29

2) Coastal Carolina, 34
3) High Point, 67
4) UNC Asheville, 122
5) Winthrop, 125
6) Birmingham-Southern, 171
7) Radford, 196
8) VMI, 201
9) Charleston Southern, 261