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10 Flames Reach NCAA Preliminary Round
NCAA East Preliminary Round Men's Qualifiers
NCAA East Preliminary Round Women's Qualifiers
NCAA East Preliminary Round Informational Webpage
For the second year in a row, a group of 10 Liberty athletes will compete at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, which will be contested May 24-26 at North Florida's Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
Five men's competitors made the field, including Taylor Courtney (400 Hurdles), Josh MacDonald (3K Steeplechase), Kolby Shepherd (Pole Vault), Ryan Smith (Shot Put and Hammer) and Kyle Wheeler (High Jump).
On the women's side, five Lady Flames will also compete in Jacksonville, including Mia Aghaji (Triple Jump and High Jump), Melinda Bendik (Hammer), Mychelle Cumings (Shot Put and Discus), Jennifer Klugh (1,500) and Christina Mitchell (Javelin).
The meet will begin May 24 at 11 a.m., and Cumings, the Big South Women's Freshman of the Year, will be the first Lady Flame to compete. She will throw the shot put beginning at 1 p.m. on May 24.
Cumings and Wheeler give Liberty a pair of freshman qualifiers to the NCAA Preliminary Round. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Klugh (women's 1,500) and Smith (men's shot put) will each compete at this meet for the third consecutive season.
Bendik is Liberty's highest seed at the 2012 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, ranking No. 8 among the women's hammer qualifiers with her school-record 201-3 throw.
Fellow senior Klugh was Liberty's most unlikely qualifier. Ranked No. 76 on the year-end East Region 1,500-meter performance list, Klugh saw 31 runners ahead of her on that list fail to declare for the NCAA Preliminary Round. As a result, the Buckeye State native got in as the No. 45 seed out of 48 qualifiers.
Shepherd is the only Liberty athlete who will compete in Jacksonville who has qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships during his career. He made it to Des Moines, Iowa in the men's pole vault in 2011.
Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa will again be the site of the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 6-9. The top 12 finishers in each event at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will advance to Des Moines. They will be joined in Des Moines by 12 qualifiers per event from the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round meet, which will take place in Austin, Texas.