A dozen former Liberty Flames, including Head Coach Brant Tolsma, were voted to the 2010-19 Big South Conference Men's Indoor Track & Field All-Decade Team presented by Hercules Tires, it was announced today.
The Flames' honorees included three sprinters/hurdlers (Ryan Davis, Jeff Jacobs, Stephen Racanelli), two distance runners (Sam Chelanga, Caleb Edmonds), four jumpers (Darrel Jones, Clarence Powell, Kolby Shepherd, Kyle Wheeler), one thrower (Ryan Smith) and one heptathlete (Geren Woodbridge). Tolsma was voted the team's head coach.
Throughout the month of June, the Big South will be recognizing each sport's top student-athletes and coaches from the recently completed decade. Liberty wrapped up its 27-year Big South Conference membership on June 30, 2018, departing for the ASUN Conference.
The Flames excelled during their final years of Big South competition, earning seven Sasser Cups and 62 Big South team championships between 2010-18.
A 15-person committee of Big South Conference administrators served as the official voting panel to determine the All-Decade Team, with fan voting comprising 20 percent of the overall total. The 2010-19 Men's Indoor Track & Field All-Decade Team features eight sprinters/hurdlers, eight distance/mid-distance runners, eight jumpers, four throwers, two heptathletes and one head coach. In case of ties, additional honorees have been added.
Davis, who hails from Deerfield Beach, Fla., stood atop the podium at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships three times during his career. He was the 60 hurdles champion in 2016, while leading off for the Flames' victorious 4 x 400 relay quartet in back-to-back years (2015 and 2016). Davis also posted a pair of Big South indoor runner-up finishes each in the 60 hurdles (2015 and 2017) and 400 (2015 and 2016).
Jacobs ran on Liberty's Big South indoor champion 4 x 400 relay squad for four consecutive seasons (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018). He also recorded Big South third-place finishes in the 400 dash final as a sophomore, junior and senior (2016, 2017 and 2018).
A local product from Lynchburg, Va., Racanelli was voted the Big South Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer in 2016 after sweeping the indoor 200, 400 and 4 x 400 titles. He also won a pair of Big South events in 2015 (200, 400) and 2017 (200, 4 x 400) and added runner-up finishes in both the 200 (2014) and 400 (2017) during his career.
Chelanga was a triple event champion at the 2010 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, taking top honors in the mile, 3K and distance medley relay. The Nairobi, Kenya native claimed three Big South indoor mile championships in a row, adding victories in 2009 and 2011. Chelanga was additionally a four-time indoor All-American, with three of the honors coming in the 5K (2009, 2010 and 2011) and one in the 3K (2011).
Edmonds garnered five career indoor All-Big South honors in the distance events, headlined by the Cooperstown, N.Y., native's triumph in the 3K in 2013. He was also the 3K runner-up in 2012 and added a trio of third-place finishes (2012 5K, 2013 mile and 2014 3K).
Another Empire State native (Monroe, N.Y.), Jones took home a pair of Big South indoor triple jump crowns (2016 and 2018), with his winning leap of 50-11 in 2018 establishing the meet record. He was the 2017 triple jump runner-up while placing third in a pair of Big South events during his career (2015 triple jump and 2016 long jump).
Powell burst onto the scene as the Big South Men's Freshman of the Year in 2008, winning the triple jump and placing third in the long jump for the first two of his nine indoor All-Big South notations. Two years later, the Marianna, Fla., native won the triple jump and high jump while placing second in the long jump to garner the Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer award. Powell added a third Big South indoor triple jump crown as a senior in 2011 and is still the only three-time men's triple jump champion in meet history.
Shepherd is the only four-time men's pole vault champion in the history of the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The native of Dublin, Ga., opened his career with three consecutive pole vault titles (2008, 2009 and 2010) before adding an unprecedented fourth championship in 2012.
Wheeler was tabbed Co-Big South Men's Freshman of the Year in 2012 after claiming the first of three high jump titles in a row along with a third-place long jump showing. The Wilson, Texas native fell just shy in his quest to become a four-time high jump champion, placing second in 2015.
A Winder, Ga., native, Smith is the only four-time men's shot put champion in Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships history, claiming four victories in a row between 2010 and 2013. He was named Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer in 2011. One year later, Smith was a double Big South champion in the shot put (still-standing meet-record 60-1.75) and weight throw.
Woodbridge was the Flames' only three-time Big South heptathlon champion, taking victory in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The native of Allentown, Pa., also tied for second place in the 2008 heptathlon competition and collected a pair of All-Big South medals in the pole vault (2010 – second place, 2011 – third place).
Tolsma coached the Flames to victory at all nine Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships they competed in during the decade (2010 through 2018), completing a string of 21 consecutive Big South indoor team titles. He was a five-time Big South Men's Coach of the Year for the decade.
The Big South Conference previously announced additional all-decade teams as part of its 30th anniversary celebration during the 2013-14 academic year. The following Flames were included on those squads.
1997-99 Men's Indoor Track & Field All-Decade Team Sprints/Hurdles – Greg Benhase, Ken Howell, Josh Jones, Pete McFadden, Marlon Tanner Mid-Distance/Distance – Josh Cox, Stephen Githuka, Brian Kiprono, Chris Poluikis Jumps – Greg Benhase, Bryan Cook, Jeremy Howe, Ken Howell, James Johnson Throws – James Highsmith, James Johnson Head Coach – Brant Tolsma
2000-09 Men's Indoor Track & Field All-Decade Team Sprints/Hurdles – Jon Debogory, Matt Parker, Jeremy Wagner, Chad Wilson Mid-Distance/Distance – Evan Falat, Josh McDougal, Dan Rabe Jumps – Nick Anderson, Anthony Bryant, Matt Parker, Adam Williams, Chad Wilson Throws - Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson Heptathlon – Brandon Hoskins, Clarence Murray Head Coach – Brant Tolsma
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