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Ballengee, Jones, Smith Headed to USATF Championships

June 19, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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(L-R): Markus Ballengee, Darrel Jones and Brenna Smith will compete against some of the USA's top athletes, Thursday and Friday in Des Moines, Iowa

(L-R): Markus Ballengee, Darrel Jones and Brenna Smith will compete against some of the USA's top athletes, Thursday and Friday in Des Moines, Iowa

Meet Information Central

Meet Schedule (Times Listed are Central)

Video Streaming (NBC Sports Gold)

Live Results

Des Moines Weather

Liberty sophomore Markus Ballengee (decathlon) and seniors Darrel Jones (men's triple jump) and Brenna Smith (women's javelin) will compete at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships, beginning Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ballengee will get the decathlon started with the 100-meter dash, Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern. Smith's women's javelin competition is slated for Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern. Jones will triple jump beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

The USATF Outdoor Championships will select Team USA for the Athletics World Cup (July 14-15 in London, England), the Thorpe Cup (July 27-28 in Fayetteville, Ark.) and the NACAC Senior Championships (Aug. 10-12 in Toronto, Canada).

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
The best way to watch Thursday and Friday's events in Des Moines will be via a paid subscription to the NBC Sports Gold package.

Live results will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Flash Results.

Periodic updates will also be posted to the Liberty Track & Field Twitter account (@Liberty_XCTF).

Weather Report
Temperatures in Des Moines are expected to top out in the low 70s on both Thursday and Friday. Thunderstorms are projected for Thursday, with light rain lingering into Friday.

About the Facility
Drake Stadium is one of the most famous track & field venues in the United States. It is playing host to the USATF Outdoor Championships for the third time (also 2010 and 2013) and has hosted four NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (1970, 2008, 2011 and 2012). The Drake Relays also take place each April at the facility.

Sam Chelanga ran his final race in a Liberty uniform at Drake Stadium, winning the NCAA men's 5K national title on June 11, 2011.

USATF Outdoor Championship Event Capsules (Organized Chronologically)

Men's Decathlon
Event Schedule:
Day 1 – Begins Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern, Day 2 – Begins Friday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Markus Ballengee (So., Moneta, Va.)

How He Got Here: One year ago, Ballengee closed out a solid freshman season by placing third in the decathlon at the 2017 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif.

After a breakthrough sophomore campaign, Ballengee will make his USATF Outdoor Championships debut this week, alongside the likes of 2016 Rio Olympics seventh-place finisher Zach Ziemek.

Ballengee entered the year with a personal-best score of 6,840 points. He then tallied 7,537 points at the Texas Relays before improving to 7,722 points and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships two weeks ago. That score earned first team All-America honors and makes Ballengee the No. 7 seed among the 16-member decathlon field in Des Moines.

Ballengee will see some familiar faces from the NCAA decathlon field this week, including Michigan State's Tim Ehrhardt, Stanford's Harrison Williams, Wisconsin's Trent Nytes, Arkansas' Derek Jacobus and Dartmouth's Benjamin Ose.

The youngest entrant in the field at 20 years old, Ballengee will be competing in just the seventh decathlon of his career this week. On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, Tim Wunderlich is attempting his 35th decathlon in Des Moines.

Ballengee is the first Liberty decathlete to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships since Brandon Hoskins in 2007.

What's at Stake: The top five finishers in the decathlon competition will be invited to represent Team USA in the Thorpe Cup, a head-to-head matchup with Germany's top decathletes, July 27-28 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Ballengee will attempt to break the Liberty and Big South Conference decathlon records of 7,800 points, set by Brandon Hoskins at the 2008 Texas Relays. This meet will mark Ballengee's final chance to set the Big South record, with the Flames joining the ASUN Conference on July 1.

Ballengee's current personal bests in the 10 decathlon disciplines would add up to 7,972 points.

Women's Javelin
Event Schedule:
Final – Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Brenna Smith (Sr., Haddon Township, N.J.)

How She Got Here: Despite narrowly missing out on qualifying to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Smith was the 17th of 18 women's javelin throwers invited to compete in Des Moines this week.

A former walk-on, Smith captured her second straight Big South women's javelin title this season and extended her own program record to 161-7 at the Duke Invitational on April 21.

Smith's competitors in Des Moines will be headlined by three-time Olympian Kara Winger, the American record holder at 218-8.

Smith will be competing for the first time since throwing the javelin at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet on May 24 in Tampa, Fla. She is the first Lady Flame ever to compete in the USATF women's javelin final.

What's at Stake: This meet's results will be used to determine Team USA's women's javelin representatives at both the Athletics World Cup and NACAC Senior Championships.

Smith will attempt to improve upon her Liberty women's javelin record of 161-7.

Smith ranks No. 2 in Big South women's javelin history, trailing only the 172-2 effort by High Point's Christine Rickert in 2016.

Men's Triple Jump
Event Schedule:
Final – Friday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Darrel Jones (Sr., Monroe, N.Y.)

How He Got Here: Two weeks after triple jumping at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Jones will get one more chance to compete in a Liberty uniform. He was the 17th among 18 men's triple jumpers invited to compete in Des Moines.

The 21st-place finisher at the NCAA meet, Jones has enjoyed an impressive senior campaign. He successfully defended his Big South men's triple jump title and extended his personal best to 51-10.5 at the Virginia Grand Prix on April 28.

Jones will be competing in his second USATF meet of 2018. The Empire State native placed ninth in the men's triple jump with a school-record 51-0 leap at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships, Feb. 18 in Albuquerque, N.M.

On Friday, Jones will triple jump alongside Christian Taylor, the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist in the event.

Jones will join Clarence Powell (2010) as the only Flames men's triple jumpers ever to take part in the USATF Outdoor Championships.

What's at Stake: Friday's results will be used to determine Team USA's men's triple jump representatives at both the Athletics World Cup and NACAC Senior Championships.

Jones will have one more shot to take down the Liberty and Big South Conference men's triple jump records (52-1.25) set by Clarence Powell in 2010. Jones has come within nine inches of Powell's standard during four of his last five competitions.