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NCAA East Regional Championship Blog: Day 2

May 31, 2008  Tallahassee, Fla.  RSS
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Jordan McDougal will be one of three Flames competing in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final, this evening at 6:40 p.m.

Jordan McDougal will be one of three Flames competing in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final, this evening at 6:40 p.m.

From the press box overlooking the south end of Florida State's Mike Long Track in Tallahassee, Fla., LibertyFlames.com will provide live updates throughout the two days of the 2008 NCAA East Regional Track & Field Championships. Please see below for other ways to follow all of the action.

Complete Meet Schedule
Heat Sheets
Live Results
NCAA.com

The most recent posts will be located just below this italicized message. You may need to refresh the page periodically to view the latest updates. Feel free to email pjcarmany@liberty.edu with any comments, questions or suggestions. Thanks!

8:25 p.m. - A few quick hitters as we get on the road to Macon, Georgia.

1) Clarence Powell was eighth entering the triple jump final and ended up ninth. George Mason senior Ryan McCoy passed him on his final attempt. Powell will have to wait and see if he can get into the national meet as an at-large selection.

2) Clendon Henderson threw 195-6 on his opening throw of the discus, and it landed him in second place, one place better than last year. He will return to the national meet after a strong six-throw series, which included three tosses over 190 feet. Henderson also defeated IC4A champion Yemi Ayeni of Virginia for the first time. The event winner was Florida's Wes Stockbarger for the second straight year, at 196-6.

3) Liberty ended the meet with 22 points, finishing seventh overall. The team finish is the Flames' highest ever at the regional meet, one place than their eighth-place effort in 2007.

4) Liberty will be represented at the national meet by Jon Hart in the hammer, Clendon Henderson in the discus, Brandon Hoskins in the decathlon and Evans Kigen in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Clarence Powell will await word on his fate in the triple jump.

5) Later this evening, Liberty student Sam Chelanga will run the 5K at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York. The meet website is reebokgrandprix.com.

Next stop, Des Moines, Iowa. Have a nice Saturday evening, thanks for reading and Go Flames!

7:15 p.m. - Official results from the steeplechase. Kigen is second in a Liberty-record 8:49.39, and Jelen is 17th in 9:14.50. I only have one blog post remaining, so I'll try to summarize the field events in a while. The triple jump is just wrapping up, but the discus has a little ways to go.

As of this moment, Brandon Hoskins, Jon Hart and Evans Kigen are all going to the national meet. Clarence Powell has at least gotten himself in place for at-large consideration in the triple jump. Clendon Henderson needs to finish in the top 12 of the discus, and he will punch his ticket. Stay tuned!

7:05 p.m. - Evans Kigen stays outside, out of trouble, through the first lap of the steeplechase. He's around 7th or 8th place.

With six laps remaining, Kigen is 3rd in about 1:46. The leader is the overwhelming favorite, Luke Gunn of Florida State.

As the lights come on at Mike Long Track, we have five laps left. Kigen now second behind Gunn.

With one mile left, Kigen is battling Syracuse's Kyle Heath for second in 4:05.

It's hot outside, but it doesn't seem to be affecting Liberty's Kenyan, Kigen. With three laps left, he's still second in 5:13.

Clarence Powell just took his last triple jump attempt, and it doesn't appear he's improved from his 51-9.

With 800 meters left, Kigen is a clear second in 6:25. He has 30 meters on sixth place.

At the bell, Gunn is putting on a show for the home crowd. Kigen holding steady in second at 7:40.

Gunn wins in 8:41, Kigen second in 8:49, a new school record. It may be just shy of the Big South record of 8:48.42, but will earn him a trip to Des Moines. I'll wait and see what the official times are, then will check on the field event status.

6:55 p.m. - A lot to keep track of at this moment. Clarence Powell made the triple jump final and just fouled his first attempt. I think he may be in eighth place. Also, the first heat of the men's steeplechase is underway. It includes Liberty's Jarvis Jelen and Jordan McDougal. Finally, Clendon Henderson is just starting to throw the discus. It's easiest for me to track the steeplechase heats right now, so I'll focus there and give field event updates as they become available.

Jordan McDougal races out to the lead in this section of the steeplechase, almost from the get-go.

Jarvis Jelen is 10th with five laps left.

McDougal led by 20 meters over Duquesne's Derek Dutille at one point, but started fading back with three laps left.

With two laps remaining, Jelen is up to fifth. No sign of McDougal. He must have dropped out.

At the bell, Jelen is fourth in the heat at about 8:00 even.

Jelen ends up sixth, in unofficially 9:14.

Evans Kigen will be competing in the next heat, containing the 18 fastest entrants.

5:35 p.m. - More third-attempt drama for the Liberty Flames in the field events. Earlier today, Jon Hart bounced back after two bad attempts in the men's hammer to finish third and qualify for the national meet.

Now, Florida native Clarence Powell popped a 51-9 triple jump on his third and final attempt, after fouling his first two tries. His new personal best by more than a foot, the effort puts Powell into the lead entering the third and final flight. Last year, that distance would have placed fifth at the regional meet. We'll see how it holds up this year.

It's the 23rd-best jump in the country this year, even though he took off several inches before the board. Powell also set a new Big South Conference record, breaking the mark of 51-3.5, set by Charleston Southern's Anthony Reed in 1999.

We'll be back with triple jump finals, and the start of the men's discus, later.

4:35 p.m. - Only seven vaulters were eliminated on the opening height of 16-1.25. Unfortunately, Kolby Shepherd was one of the seven. His first attempt was his best. The Liberty freshman will now set his sights on the U.S. Junior National Championship, June 20 at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

As for me, I'll head out shortly to catch Clarence Powell's first three triple jump attempts. Looks like the opening flight is just wrapping up now. So, he should start in 15-20 minutes.

3:25 p.m. - After being shut out 7-0 by upstart Bucknell last night and falling behind in-state rival Florida 5-1 today, the Florida State Seminoles finally put things together in the top of the fifth. A seven-run outburst put FSU on top of the Gators by a 9-5 count before I decided to escape back to the air-conditioned track press box.

FSU catcher Buster Posey is 1-1 through his first four plate appearances, with a single, two walks and a hit by pitch. The Gators were afraid to give the national player of the year many good pitches to hit. Imagine that! So, I didn't get much of a chance to see his bat work.

I did learn a new cheer, however, one which I think I'll be hearing in my sleep tonight. It goes F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E, Florida State, Florida State, Florida State, Wooooo!

Back to the track, Liberty freshman Kolby Shepherd is among the 22 men's pole vaulters warming up for the start of their event at 4 p.m. One of seven rookies included in the field, the Dublin, Ga., native will jump 10th in the rotation.

The progression of heights will be 16-1.25, then 16-7.25 (which would be a new personal best for Shepherd), then 17-1 (which should separate the men from the boys). I'll focus most of my attention on the pole vault, as long as Shepherd remains in the competition.

Also at 4 p.m., the men's triple jump will get underway, featuring three flights of 12 jumpers. Liberty freshman Clarence Powell is the second jumper in the second flight, so probably won't compete until 4:45 or so. I'll try to catch his distances, depending on how the pole vault is progressing.

The running events are also set to begin at 4 p.m., although no Liberty athletes will take the track until the men's steeplechase, at 6:40.

I'll be back in a while with a pole vault update.

12:10 p.m. - Hart successfully recovered from his slow start to post a couple solid throws during the hammer finals and move up to third place in the final standings. He bumped up into fifth place with a 209-10 efffort on his fifth throw. The senior then unleashed a 214-1 heave on his final throw of the morning, claiming third behind Radford's Timothy Morse and Virginia Tech's Matej Muza.

As a result, Jon Hart will compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, for the second straight year. Hart also made the national meet in the hammer last season, after finishing as the runner-up at the regional championship. Here are today's top five finishers, all of whom earn automatic qualification for the national meet.

Official Final Results - Men's Hammer
1) Timothy Morse, Radford - 217-8
2) Matej Muza, Virginia Tech - 217-5
3) Jon Hart, Liberty - 214-2
4) John Freeman, Georgia - 210-9
5) Paul Peulich, Manhattan - 210-7 (He wins the best-dressed award, in addition to a trip to Des Moines. He sported bright yellow and green striped socks during the competition. He has a neat first name as well.)

Now it's time for some Chick-fil-A, sweet tea and Florida State-Florida baseball. I'll be back by 4 p.m., for the start of the men's pole vault and the men's triple jump.

11:35 a.m. - There were some tenuous moments for Jon Hart in the opening round of the hammer throw. He fouled his first attempt and then threw only 189-4 on his second throw. So, he needed a good mark on his third throw in order to make the final. The senior came through with a 199-4 toss, claiming seventh place and earning three more throws. Here's how the throwing order will look for the finals, based on my observations.

9th place - Alex Pessla, Princeton - 195-6
8th place - Seid Mujanovic, Manhattan - 197-5
7th place - Jon Hart, Liberty - 199-4
6th place - Mike Zajac, South Carolina - 200-7
5th place - Ed Skowronski, Monmouth - 203-3
4th place - Paul Peulich, Manhattan - 210-6
3rd place - John Freeman, Georgia - 210-8
2nd place - Matej Muza, Virginia Tech - 216-0
1st place - Timothy Morse, Radford - 217-8

Notably, Georgia junior Nate Rolfe, who finished fourth in the region last year, fouled all three of his attempts and will not qualify for the national meet.

I'll be back in a bit to let you know how finals go.

9:45 a.m. – Mike Long Track is quiet this morning, except for the 24 men out on the infield preparing for the hammer throw competition, which will begin at 10 a.m. Liberty senior Jon Hart is among them, but he will not throw until the second of two flights. Hart was the hammer runner-up at this meet last season, qualifying for his first NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. The senior is one of the favorites for this year's crown, along with Virginia Tech's Matej Muza, also scheduled for the second flight.

Hart will be the first of seven Flames to compete today, on the final day of the NCAA East Regional Championships. Four of them will participate in field events, and the other three will all run the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final.

After Hart is done throwing the ball and chain, we will have about a four-hour gap before Liberty athletes return to action.

At 4 p.m., a pair of precocious freshmen will open competition in their debuts at the NCAA East Regional Championships. Kolby Shepherd is entered in the pole vault, while classmate Clarence Powell, competing near his hometown of Marianna, Fla., will triple jump.

Two hours later, senior Clendon Henderson will attempt to return to the national meet in his specialty, the discus. He is ranked No. 3 nationally, but faces the prospect of a three-way battle for first place. Wes Stockbarger of Florida and Yemi Ayeni of Virginia, the top two finishers at the 2007 regional meet, are back this year. Ayeni edged Henderson at the IC4A Championship, dealing the Meadow, Texas native his only setback of 2008.

Jarvis Jelen, Evans Kigen and Jordan McDougal will then wrap up the meet by competing in the next-to-last event, the steeplechase. It is the first time Liberty has ever had three athletes compete in the same event at the regional meet.

The weather forecast? I don't think it ever changes in Florida this time of year—92 degrees, sunny and steamy.

What to do during the four-hour gap? Unexpectedly, Florida and Florida State both lost their opening games of the NCAA baseball regional yesterday. So, the Gators and Seminoles will face off in an elimination game at 1 p.m., at adjacent Dick Howser Stadium. It would be fun to see FSU standout catcher Buster Posey in action. We'll see if my all-access credential enables me to sneak into the game.

Have a nice Saturday. Enjoy!