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4 Flames Earn Big South Track & Field Awards

April 23, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Brant Tolsma has now won 50 Big South Coach of the Year awards during his 26 years coaching at Liberty, including cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field honors.

Four Liberty athletes and coaches earned major Big South awards, based upon their performances at the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which wrapped up Saturday evening in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Ryan Smith was tabbed Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer, Kyle Wheeler was voted Men's Freshman of the Year, Mychelle Cumings shared the Women's Freshman of the Year award and Brant Tolsma was honored as Men's Coach of the Year.

Additionally, Jacob DeValve and Olivia Charnuski were Liberty's representatives on the Big South All-Academic Team for men's and women's outdoor track & field, respectively.

Liberty's award winners helped the men's squad capture its sixth consecutive Big South outdoor team title. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames placed second to Coastal Carolina, marking their fourth straight top-two finish at this meet.

Smith, a redshirt junior, is Liberty's sixth consecutive Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He previously captured the same honor at the 2011 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Smith scored a team-high 28 points for the victorious Liberty men's squad over the weekend, winning Big South titles in the shot put (55-2.25) and discus (personal-best 169-11) and placing second in the hammer (personal-best 194-11). The Winder, Ga., native became the first men's thrower to win the shot put and discus at the same Big South meet since Liberty's Dan Royal in 2005.

Wheeler, of Wilson, Texas, made it a yearly sweep of the Big South Men's Freshman of the Year awards after sharing the honor with teammate Leonard Robbins indoors. His meet was highlighted by a record-breaking performance in the men's high jump final.

Wheeler made a first-attempt clearance at 7-1, winning the competition, setting a new meet record and tying Matt Parker's program high jump record. Wheeler, who also captured the Big South indoor men's high jump crown, then had a couple near misses at the U.S. Olympic Trials "B" standard height of 7-2.5. The freshman also long jumped a personal-best 23-2 for fifth place.

Part of an impressive performance by the Liberty women's throwers, Cumings won both the shot put (50-6.25) and discus (159-6) titles. Her winning shot put mark broke the Madison, Tenn., native's own program record. Meanwhile, her 159-6 discus throw was the longest winning throw at this meet since 2008 and made Cumings Liberty's first-ever Big South women's discus titlist. 

Tolsma, who has guided the Liberty men's outdoor track & field team to 17 Big South titles in 19 years, is now a 50-time Big South Coach of the Year, including cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field. Tolsma has won six consecutive Big South Coach of the Year trophies for men's outdoor track & field and 13 overall.

DeValve, a redshirt sophomore religion major with a 3.94 cumulative grade-point average, makes his first career appearance on the Big South All-Academic Team. He scored 6,904 points to win his first Big South decathlon title, while also placing fifth in the javelin (personal-best 196-7) and sixth in the shot put (season-best 50-8.25).

Charnuski, a senior kinesiology major with a 3.61 overall GPA, made the Big South All-Academic Team for women's outdoor track & field for the second straight year. She finished fifth in the women's 100 hurdles final (season-best 14.10), seventh in the women's 200 (25.53) and second in the women's 4 x 100 relay (45.92).

Other top Big South honorees included Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer Javon Young of Charleston Southern, Women's Most Outstanding Track Performer Erica Peake of Coastal Carolina, Women's Most Outstanding Field Performer Kierra Gabe of Coastal Carolina, Women's Freshman of the Year Mulern Jean of Charleston Southern, Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Brett Olinger of Radford, Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Kelsey Fraser of High Point and Women's Coach of the Year Alan Connie of Coastal Carolina.

Liberty athletes will be divided between two different meets this week. Some Flames and Lady Flames will compete at the Penn Relays, slated for Thursday through Saturday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa. Other Liberty competitors are entered in the Highlander Invitational, Friday and Saturday in Radford, Va.

Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer
Javon Young, Charleston Southern

Women's Most Outstanding Track Performer
Erica Peake, Coastal Carolina

Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer
Ryan Smith, Liberty

Women's Most Outstanding Field Performer
Kierra Gabe, Coastal Carolina

Men's Freshman of the Year
Kyle Wheeler, Liberty

Women's Freshman of the Year
Mychelle Cumings, Liberty

Mulern Jean, Charleston Southern

Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Brett Olinger, Radford

Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Kelsey Fraser, High Point

Men's All-Academic
Christopher Schulist, Campbell
Matt Smith, Charleston Southern
Kyle Kling, Coastal Carolina
Carson Sears, Gardner-Webb
Jevin Monds, High Point
Jacob DeValve, Liberty
Brett Olinger, Radford
Jeremy Harn, UNC Asheville
Cabell Willis, VMI
Adam Leroux, Winthrop

Women's All-Academic
Rudi Fate, Campbell
Adrienne Cuff, Charleston Southern
Emily Marchini, Coastal Carolina
Ivana Hughes, Gardner-Webb
Kelsey Fraser, High Point
Olivia Charnuski, Liberty
Aimee Veatch, Radford
Corey McClintock, UNC Asheville
Jennifer Sing, VMI
Tara Bowman, Winthrop

Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty

Women's Coach of the Year
Alan Connie, Coastal Carolina