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Liberty Wins 3 Events on Big South Day 1

April 19, 2012
|  Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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Melinda Bendik won the first Big South title of her career Thursday afternoon, with a 189-7 throw in the women's hammer.

Day 1 Blog

Liberty got off to a strong start Thursday, on day one of the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Melinda Bendik (women's hammer), Christina Mitchell (women's javelin) and Ngetich Kipchirchir (men's 10K) all won their events, with Mitchell setting a new school record at 144-7.

Bendik and Mitchell helped the Lady Flames score 37 points on Thursday. That puts them 17 points behind host Coastal Carolina through the meet's first four women's events.

On the men's side, Kipchirchir's victory in the evening's final event pulled the Flames into a first-place tie with Coastal Carolina. Both squads have 27 points through three men's disciplines.

Women's Meet Recap
Bendik got the Lady Flames going in the day's very first event, the women's hammer. The redshirt senior won her first career Big South title by more than 10 feet, with her best throw landing at 189-7. In the process, she became Liberty's first Big South women's hammer champion since Amy Rodriguez in 1997.

Jocelyn Williams added a sixth-place finish in the hammer, with a mark of 162-10 that gave Liberty an early lead in the women's team standings.

Competing in her fifth event of the day, Mitchell displayed no signs of fatigue in the women's javelin. Her third throw landed at 144-7, breaking the school record and winning the competition by nearly 13 feet. The previous school record of 140-5 had been set by Lacey Cunningham on March 17, 2007. Mitchell is the Lady Flames' first Big South women's javelin titlist since Danielle McNaney in 2005.

Khristina Kanagy made a valiant try at victory in the women's 10K, going back and forth with Coastal Carolina's Letitia Saayman during the last two laps. In the end, Saayman pulled out the victory, but Kanagy claimed the runner-up position while slicing her personal-best time by more than 16 seconds, to 36:33.99.

Mia Aghaji earned the 13th All-Big South honor of her career, thanks to a third-place effort in the women's long jump final. Her career-best leap of 18-10.5 matched that of Coastal Carolina's Kierra Gabe, but Gabe was awarded second place due to a superior third-best jump. Aghaji moved up to No. 7 on Liberty's all-time long jump list with her effort.

Mitchell will have some work to do if she hopes to defend her Big South heptathlon title. Through Thursday's four events, she ranks second with 2,718 points. That puts Mitchell 160 tallies behind Charleston Southern freshman Jasmine King. Mitchell's top mark on Thursday was her 38-4 shot put, which led all heptathletes by about three and a half feet.

Men's Meet Recap
Kipchirchir punctuated the meet's opening day in style, sprinting away from Winthrop's Adam Freudenthal on the 25th and final lap of the men's 10K. Kipchirchir's final lap was covered in a blazing 62.7 seconds, as he won the race by seven seconds with a time of 31:05.62. He is Liberty's first Big South men's 10K champion since his coach, Josh McDougal, took the title in 2007.

Making his 10K debut, David Ricksecker came in fifth, crossing the line in 31:28.00.

Ryan Smith notched a personal-best hammer throw of 194-11, taking second place in the event. Additionally, the redshirt junior now ranks No. 3 on Liberty's all-time men's hammer performance list.

The duo of Kyle Wheeler and Tarell Williams both scored points and recorded season-best distances in the men's long jump. Wheeler nabbed fifth place at 23-2, while Williams took eighth at 22-7.75.

Jacob DeValve enjoyed an impressive first day in the decathlon and shares the overall lead with High Point's Tristan Faure. Both athletes totaled 3,641 points through five events. DeValve topped the decathletes in the 100 (11.05), 400 (50.02) and shot put (49-4.5).

The meet will resume Friday at noon, with the decathlon 110-meter hurdles. The day's first field event will be the women's shot put at 1 p.m., and running event trials will commence with the women's 1,500-meter prelims at 3 p.m.