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Klugh, Smith and Cumings Honored by Big South
For the second time this season, the Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams have won three of the Big South Conference's four weekly awards. Jennifer Klugh was named Big South Conference Choice Hotels Women's Track Athlete of the Week, while teammates Ryan Smith and Mychelle Cumings were tabbed the Big South Men's and Women's Field Athletes of the Week, respectively.
Klugh has now won this award three times this season, after previously garnering the Big South Women's Track Athlete of the Week distinction on Dec. 8 and Jan. 26. The senior's latest honor came as a result of her record-breaking 16:48.32 clocking in the 5K, Friday at the Valentine Invitational in Boston, Mass. Klugh's performance, which placed her sixth in the race, broke her own Liberty and Big South 5K records of 16:56.14, set a year ago.
Klugh, who enters the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships as the defending conference champion in the women's mile and 3K, tops the Big South yearly performance list in the mile, 3K and 5K events. The Buckeye State native has also qualified for the ECAC meet at all three distances.
Smith was recognized as Big South Men's Field Athlete of the Week for the third consecutive week, after a strong showing at the Valentine Invitational. Smith won the men's weight throw title by 10.5 inches, thanks to a personal-best mark of 63-3.5. He also threw the shot 55-7.5 to finish second in that event and first among collegiate entrants.
Smith not only leads the Big South Conference in both the men's shot put and weight throw, but also ranks well nationally in both events. The Georgia native currently ranks No. 34 in NCAA Division I in the shot put and No. 36 in the weight throw, making him one of only four athletes to rank inside the nation's top 40 in both events. Smith will enter next weekend's Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships as the two-time defending men's shot put champion.
Cumings won her first Big South Women's Field Athlete of the Week honor on Dec. 8, after breaking the school record in the women's shot put for the first time. Her second Big South weekly award came as a result of another record-breaking effort in the event. Cumings' winning throw of 51-3 at the Liberty Quad added nearly four feet to her previous Liberty standard and just missed the Big South record by an inch and a half.
Cumings ranks first on the Big South women's shot put performance list by more than seven feet over teammate Emily Woods. She also ranks No. 33 nationally in the event, including fourth among freshmen. Cumings will enter the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships as a strong favorite to become Liberty's first-ever conference women's shot put champion.
Liberty is taking this weekend off from competition, with the Flames and Lady Flames set to return to action at the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The meet will be contested Feb. 24-25 at Virginia Tech's Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Va.