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Liberty Men, Women Lead After Big South Day 2

April 20, 2012
|  Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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Freshman Mychelle Cumings won the Big South women's shot put title on Friday, while extending her own outdoor school record to 50-6.25.

Day 2 Blog

Friday's action at the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium featured five individual conference titles and a pair of school records by Liberty athletes. As a result, both the Flames and Lady Flames lead the team standings with just one day of competition remaining.

Jacob DeValve won the men's decathlon, Ryan Smith won the men's shot put and Kyle Wheeler equaled the school record of 7-1, while winning the men's high jump. Their performance played a key role in the Flames building a 38.5-point cushion over host Coastal Carolina on the men's team ledger. Liberty has racked up 90.5 points through seven events, as compared with the Chanticleers' 52 tallies.

On the women's side, Mychelle Cumings' school-record mark of 50-6.25 won the shot put, while Christina Mitchell repeated as heptathlon champion. Through nine women's disciplines, Liberty owns a slim 93.5-89 edge over defending champion Coastal Carolina.

Men's Meet Recap
Wheeler became the first Liberty men's high jumper ever to sweep the Big South indoor and outdoor titles in the same season, doing so in record-breaking fashion. After the freshman already had the competition won, he sailed over a career-best 7-1 on his first attempt. Wheeler than made a couple close attempts at 7-2.5, which would have been a "B" qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Wheeler's winning mark broke the meet record of 7-0.5, set by Liberty's Anthony Bryant in 2009. It also tied the outdoor school record set by Matt Parker later that same year, although Parker's effort actually happened indoors at Princeton, due to inclement weather at the IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Wheeler, who cleared 7-0 a year ago in high school, is the eighth Liberty high jumper ever to go over the 7-0 barrier, including the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Smith's third consecutive Big South outdoor men's shot put championship came thanks to a heave of 55-2.25. The redshirt junior is the first athlete in conference history ever to win a trio of outdoor men's shot put crowns.

Behind Smith, David Scouten came in third at 52-10.25 and DeValve took a break from the decathlon to tie for fifth place with a season-best mark of 50-8.25. In total, the Flames racked up 19.5 points in the event.

Liberty fared even better in the decathlon, pulling down 21 points. Leading the charge was DeValve, who won the conference title by 232 points with an IC4A-qualifying score of 6,904. He took the lead for good in the next-to-last event, with a personal-best 196-1 javelin toss. DeValve is Liberty's ninth decathlon champion in the 12 years it has been contested at the Big South meet.

Tevan McIntire followed in fourth place with 6,400 points, Harrison Allen was fifth with 6,170 points and Nick Fifelski came in seventh with 5,666 tallies. All three of those scores were new personal bests for the Flames.

In the night's final race, the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, sophomore Josh MacDonald led for most of the race, before ending up as the runner-up. His time of 8:56.65 set a new personal best by more than nine seconds and ranks him No. 3 in program history.

Teammate Pedro Carela also ran well, coming in fourth with a time of 9:12.86. He qualified for the IC4A meet with that effort and also moved into 10th place on Liberty's all-time list.

In the running event preliminaries, freshman Leonard Robbins qualified for Saturday's finals in both the 200 (21.34) and 400 (47.81), running personal-best times at both distances. Classmate Lachaddrick Ellis did not make the 200 final, but did qualify for the IC4A meet with his 200-meter dash time of 21.74 seconds.

Women's Meet Recap
Just as she did indoors, freshman Cumings dominated the women's shot put competition. Her top mark of 50-6.25 won by more than a yard and bettered her own outdoor school record of 49-0.75, set at the same facility on March 17. Cumings became the first Lady Flame to win the Big South outdoor women's shot put title since Amy Rodriguez in 1999 and also gave Liberty its third women's throwing event championship of the meet thus far.

Behind Cumings, Jocelyn Williams' outdoor personal-best shot put of 40-7.5 claimed ninth place in the event and eighth place on Liberty's all-time performance list for the event.

Just like DeValve in the decathlon, Mitchell used a stellar javelin throw to propel her to a multi-event victory. Mitchell heaved the javelin 135-10, more than 27 feet longer than her nearest competitor. That set her on her way to a second straight Big South heptathlon title and an ECAC-qualifying score of 4,513 points. It was Mitchell's second event championship of the meet, following Thursday evening's win in the women's javelin.

Liberty outscored Coastal Carolina 17-0 in the heptathlon, thanks also to Riley Brandon in fourth place with a personal-best 4,250 points and Audrey Bamford in the seventh spot with a personal-best 3,749 markers.

Mia Aghaji made it over a career-best 5-9.25 in the women's high jump, but ended up second place overall with more misses than event champion Kierra Gabe of Coastal Carolina. Only one women's high jumper in program history (Kena Butts) has ever sailed higher than Aghaji did on Friday.

Marianne Wheeler added a fifth-place showing and Brandon was sixth in the women's high jump, as each cleared 5-5. Brandon's 5-5 effort was a new personal best and came not long after she wrapped up the heptathlon competition.

Running the steeplechase for just the second time in her career, Betel Yosef fell just one-hundredth of a second away from second place and less than a second away from winning. Her huge personal-best time of 11:01.58 placed third in the final and ranks third in program history.

Rachel Houseknecht and Shelley Parker were two of the five women's pole vaulters to top out at 11-7.75 Friday evening. Houseknecht earned her first career All-Big South plaudit by tying for third place, while defending champion Parker came in sixth.

Abigail Flower (100 and 200) and Olivia Charnuski (200 and 100 hurdles) each qualified for a pair of Saturday running event finals.

The third and final day of the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships will commence Saturday at 10 a.m., with the women's discus. The full slate of running event finals will get started with the women's 4 x 100 relay at 12:30 p.m.