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Liberty Wins 6th Straight BSC Men's Track Title

April 21, 2012
|  Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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The Liberty men's squad won its sixth consecutive team title at the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Day 3 Blog

After battling a near five-hour weather delay on Saturday, the Liberty men's squad collected its sixth consecutive team title at the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames placed second behind host Coastal Carolina in the women's competition, at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

The Liberty men's squad racked up 213 points, putting the Flames 78 tallies in front of runner-up Coastal Carolina in the final standings. Liberty has now won this meet 17 times in the 19 years it has been contested.

On the women's side, Coastal Carolina outlasted Liberty by a 234 to 214.5 score to win for the second consecutive year. The Lady Flames' 214.5 points were the most by a runner-up team at this meet since 2007.

The Big South's individual awards (Big South Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc.) were not conferred Saturday night due to the lengthy delay. Those honors will be announced separately on Monday.

Men's Meet Recap
The victorious Liberty men's team won three individual events on the meet's final day, highlighted by a 1-2-3-4 sweep of the pole vault. The Flames scored a perfect 29 points in the event for the first time since 2000, led by Kolby Shepherd's winning clearance of 16-0.75. Shepherd finishes his Big South career as a three-time outdoor men's pole vault champion and a seven-time overall pole vault titlist, including the Big South indoor meet.

Cody Fridgen took second at 14-11, while freshman Matthew Thompson earned his first All-Big South accolade with a 14-5.25 clearance. Fellow freshman Jon Drablos came in fourth at 13-11.25.

Liberty also fashioned an impressive 1-2-4 finish in the men's discus, tallying 23 points in the event. Ryan Smith won his first career Big South discus title with a personal-best heave of 169-11, making it six straight years a Liberty Flame has won this event.

Smith finished the meet with 28 points, after also winning the shot put and taking second place in the hammer. The Georgia native is the first Liberty men's thrower to sweep the Big South shot put and discus titles since Dan Royal in 2005.

David Scouten's personal-best discus throw of 167-1 earned him the runner-up medal, while Tim Abbott came in fourth with yet another personal-best effort, 163-8.

The Flames' final victory of the day came in the men's 400-meter dash, where freshman Leonard Robbins won in an impressive time of 47.37 seconds. Robbins, who also claimed the Big South indoor 400-meter crown in February, became Liberty's first outdoor men's 400-meter champion since Chad Wilson in 2002. Additionally, his time was the fastest by a Liberty Flame in the 400 since 2005.

That was just one of four races for Robbins on the day. In his other individual event, Robbins took fourth place in the 200-meter dash final, clocking a time of 21.52 into a strong headwind.

Robbins also helped both of Liberty's relay teams place second. The 4 x 100 relay team, which also featured Roderick Spruel, Tarell Williams and Anthony Settje, ran a season-best time of 40.65 seconds.

In the night's final race, which wrapped up around 9 p.m., Robbins, Andre Washington, Paul Arslain and Taylor Courtney posted a time of 3:15.05 for second place in the 4 x 400 relay.

Caleb Edmonds, Liberty's lone entrant in the men's 5K, led for most of the race before ending up second in a time of 14:35.53.

The Flames notched a dozen points in the men's javelin, led by Steve Feister's fourth-place showing. The freshman became the ninth Liberty thrower ever to eclipse 200 feet, with his top throw landing at 202-7.

Jacob DeValve finished the meet with 17 points after his personal-best 196-7 javelin throw took fifth place. Daniel Klase followed in the sixth position with a personal-best 192-5 toss.

The Flames recorded fourth-place efforts in both the men's 800 and 1,500 finals, thanks to Arslain (time of 1:54.72) and Jarred Cornfield (personal-best 3:55.45), respectively.

Courtney was leading the men's 400 hurdles final before a late fall relegated him to a fifth-place finish and time of 54.41. Riley White was sixth in a personal-best 54.99 seconds.

Women's Meet Recap
Jennifer Klugh won a pair of races about seven hours apart on Saturday, the women's 1,500 and 5K finals. She started her day with a second consecutive Big South 1,500 crown, breaking a nine-year-old meet record with her time of 4:29.87. She became the first back-to-back Big South women's 1,500 titlist since the Lady Flames' Rebekah Ricksecker did so in 2007 and 2008.

Later on, Klugh captured the first track 5K championship of her career by almost six seconds, with an outdoor personal-best clocking of 17:25.87. Now ranked No. 3 on the Lady Flames' outdoor 5K list, Klugh was the first Liberty women's runner to win the 1,500 and 5K at the same Big South meet since Heather Sagan in 2002.

Khristina Kanagy came back after her 10K runner-up performance Thursday evening to take fourth place in the 5K, at 17:42.25.

Freshman Mychelle Cumings' longest discus throw of the day, 159-6, won the morning's first event by six feet. It was the longest winning throw at this meet since 2008 and completed a sweep of the women's shot put and discus championships for Cumings. Additionally, Liberty became the first school ever to win all four women's throwing events at the same Big South Championship.

The Lady Flames scored a total of 21 points in the discus, as Jennifer Nicholson threw 145-8 for fourth place, Jocelyn Williams' 145-4 effort took fifth place and Melinda Bendik's season-best 136-5 mark ended up seventh.

Mia Aghaji, who scored a team-high 29 points for the Lady Flames on the weekend, won her third straight Big South women's triple jump title. She earned her title with a season-best 41-0.5 leap, despite a notable headwind.

Behind Aghaji, Alyssa Pegues triple jumped a personal-best 39-6 for fifth place and freshman Melissa Rohwer reached a personal-best 39-0.25 for the seventh spot.

Like the Liberty men's team, the Lady Flames recorded two runner-up efforts in the relays. The 4 x 400 squad of Kiara Bridges, Meghan Burggraf, Melanie Sims and Aghaji qualified for the ECAC meet with the Lady Flames' fastest outdoor time since 2007, a 3:49.03.

Earlier, the 4 x 100 grouping of Sherri Spruel, Abigail Flower, Olivia Charnuski and Pegues sped to the second-fastest time in program history, 45.92.

Burggraf narrowly missed out on her third straight 800-meter crown, with her time of 2:12.01 falling just two-hundredths of a second behind champion Sarah Gentry of UNC Asheville. Teammate Amanda Wimbush earned fifth place with a 2:18.05 posting.

Sims was the women's 400-meter hurdles runner-up for the second straight year, clocking a season-best 1:02.97. Aghaji ended up sixth in 1:05.55 as part of her busy Saturday.

Flower garnered a pair of All-Big South honors on the day, placing third in both the 100 (time of 12.14) and 200 (24.73) dashes.

Charnuski also scored in a pair of individual events, taking fifth in the 100 hurdles in a season-best 14.10 seconds and coming in seventh in the 200 dash at 25.53.

Liberty athletes will be divided up between two different meets next week. Some will head to Philadelphia, Pa., for the prestigious Penn Relays, Thursday through Saturday. Others will venture across the Commonwealth to compete in Friday and Saturday's Highlander Invitational, hosted by Radford.

Men's Team Standings
1) Liberty - 213

2) Coastal Carolina - 135
3) High Point - 98
4) Charleston Southern – 78.5
5) VMI - 78
6) Radford - 57
7) Winthrop - 55
8) Gardner-Webb – 49.5
9) Campbell - 31
10) UNC Asheville - 20

Women's Team Standings
1) Coastal Carolina – 234
2) Liberty – 214.5
3) Charleston Southern – 84
4) Gardner-Webb – 66
5) Campbell – 48
6) Winthrop – 42
7) UNC Asheville – 41
8) High Point – 38
9) VMI – 27
10) Radford – 22.5