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NCAA Track & Field Championship Blog: Day 3

June 13, 2008  Des Moines, Iowa  RSS
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Evans Kigen will be one of 14 competitors in tonight's NCAA men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final, this evening at 8:40 p.m. Eastern.

Evans Kigen will be one of 14 competitors in tonight's NCAA men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final, this evening at 8:40 p.m. Eastern.

From Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, with its distinctive blue track, will provide live updates from the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Stay tuned as Liberty athletes Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson, Brandon Hoskins and Evans Kigen battle the best collegiate competitors in the nation.

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7:55 p.m. - Colorado junior Jenny Barringer just tore up the track in the women's steeplechase final, running an NCAA-record time of 9:29.20. It was also the fastest time ever run on American soil. What does the men's race have in terms of an encore? We'll soon find out!

Seven laps remaining - The split is 39 seconds. Kigen is at the back edge of the pack. Colorado's Billy Nelson and Florida State's Luke Gunn lead the way.

Six laps remaining - 1:50 is the split. Same leaders. Kigen has moved up to 10th. The pack is still tightly bunched, due to the moderate pace.

Five laps remaining - 2:59 is the split. Same situation up front, and Kigen is tucked in by the rail, still around 10th. No separation by the leaders at this point.

Four laps remaining - 4:08 is the split. Gunn with a slight lead. Kigen still in the same position. Everyone is in touch with the leaders.

Three laps remaining - 5:17 is the split. Gunn has strung out the pack a bit. Kigen in 12th, trying to hang on to the pace.

Two laps remaining - 6:25 is the split. Arkansas' Peter Kosgei assumes the lead. Kigen in 10th now. 

Bell lap - 7:35 is Kigen's split. Arizona State's Kyle Alcorn has stepped on the accelerator and takes the lead. Kigen still 10th.

Finish - Alcorn holds off Colorado's Nelson's furious finish in a stadium-record 8:28.26. Kigen nearly gets ninth, but settles for 10th. His time is 8:43.77, breaking his own Liberty record by more than five seconds and also setting a new Big South standard.

Congratulations, Evans Kigen! In six lifetime steeplechase races, you have set the Liberty record, the Big South Conference record and become the 10th-fastest steeplechase runner in the NCAA.

Now it's time for me to sign off and start the long trek back to Lynchburg, Virginia. Thanks as always for your interest in Liberty track & field. Go Flames!

6:55 p.m. - This is an Olympic year, and tonight's men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final will have a bit of an Olympic feel to it, as the 14 competitors hail from five different nations.

Canada – Chris Winter (Oregon)

Great Britain – Luke Gunn (Florida State)

Hungary – Tibor Vegh (N.C. State)

Kenya – Hillary Bor (Iowa State), Barnabas Kirui (Ole Miss), Evans Kigen (Liberty), Peter Kosgei (Arkansas), Augustus Maiyo (Alabama) and Patrick Mutai (UTEP)

United States – Kyle Alcorn (Arizona State), Henry Hagenbuch (UCLA), Kyle Heath (Syracuse), Carl Moe (Washington) and Billy Nelson (Colorado)

It is not surprising that six of the 14 finalists hail from Kenya. The African nation has dominated the steeplechase on the world scene in recent years. Kenyans have won every Olympic gold medal in the event since 1984. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Kenya swept all three medals.

The Kenyans' success has not translated to the collegiate level to the same degree, however. Last year, Barnabas Kirui of Ole Miss blazed to the national title, becoming the first Kenyan to capture the NCAA steeplechase crown since Julius Korir of Washington State in 1986.

Kirui's countryman Evans Kigen is still a relative novice at the steeplechase, yet he finds himself lining up alongside the best in the nation this evening. This will only be his sixth-ever steeplechase competition, but Kigen has already accomplished quite a bit. He is the Liberty record holder and set the Big South meet standard.

To outside observers, Kigen may be the biggest surprise among the 14 steeplechase finalists. He had the 24th-fastest qualifying time of the 25 entrants, coming into the national meet. The sophomore was the No. 9 seed at the NCAA East Regional Championships before claiming runner-up honors. So, who knows what he's capable of this evening?

Clendon Henderson got the day off to a great start several hours ago, and now Evans Kigen hopes to finish it in style.

The steeplechase will be televised by CBS College Sports and video streamed over the Internet. For those who are unable to follow Kigen's progress via those means, I'll post a blow-by-blow summary at the conclusion of the 7.5-lap race, scheduled to start at 7:40 p.m.

One final note for now: The only other Big South athlete in action today was Radford junior Timothy Morse, in the recently completed men's hammer throw final. The NCAA East Regional champoin placed 11th today, with a top throw of 207-4. Morse was the seventh-best American finisher, so he will collect his first career All-America certificate.

5:05 p.m. - Here are a few more notes about Clendon Henderson's discus performance, now that I've had some time for his achievement to sink in.

1) Henderson is the fourth Liberty athlete ever to finish in the top three at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships, joining the select group of fellow senoir Josh McDougal, Liberty assistant coach Heather (Sagan) Zealand and Andrea Wildrick.

2) Henderson's NCAA career is complete, but he still has another meet to get ready for. Henderson will compete in the discus throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The prelims are scheduled for 11:30 p.m. Eastern on July 3. The final is set for 5:20 p.m. on July 6, the final day of the Trials.

3) Liberty head track & field coach Brant Tolsma was proud of Henderson on a couple levels. Not only is he Henderson's coach, but he is also his father-in-law.

4:40 p.m. - Friday the 13th has a bad reputation, but it has been a great day so far for the Liberty Flames. Senior Clendon Henderson just finished third in the men's discus final, becoming the Flames' first-ever All-American in the throwing events. His top throw was 192-7. Here's how things unfolded.

Henderson opened with a solid first throw of 182-6 which would have been good enough to make the finals. It must be noted that all distances were hampered today by poor wind conditions, as was the case during Wednesday's preliminary round.

The senior from Meadow, Texas stood in seventh place heading into his third throw. That effort reached 191-5, enabling Henderson to seize the lead from top-seeded Leif Arrhenius of BYU. It also made Henderson the ninth and final thrower for the three rounds of finals.

Henderson's fourth attempt, and first of the finals, improved to 192-7. However, he had already been passed by eventual national champion Rashaud Scott of Kentucky's 199-8 throw and eventual runner-up Yemi Ayeni of Virginia's 195-2 toss.

The standings changed very little in the final two rounds, leaving Henderson with a very fine third-place finish and giving Liberty six team points.

Here are the unofficial discus results:
1) Rashaud Scott, Kentucky
2) Yemi Ayeni, Virginia
3) Clendon Henderson, Liberty
4) Leif Arrhenius, BYU
5) Russ Winger, Idaho
6) Jason Schutz, Colorado State
7) Greg Garza, UCLA
8) Martin Maric, California

Liberty's final competitor at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be sophomore Evans Kigen. The Kenyan will run the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase approximately three hours from now. His race will be televised live on CBS College Sports. It will also be video streamed over the Internet. The link may be found above.

A big congratulations to Clendon Henderson. What a way to finish off his Liberty track & field career!
I'll be back in a bit to set the stage for Kigen's steeplechase final.

2:45 p.m. CST – Well, this is it. Today is the final official day of the 2007-08 Liberty track & field season. Yes, a number of Flames will compete at the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials over the next several weeks. However, this is the final time Liberty will compete as a team for this season, which began way back on Nov. 30 with the Liberty Kickoff indoor meet.

That day also saw the Liberty volleyball team take a game from California in the opening round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship and saw the Lady Flames' hoopsters post 100 points against Virginia Union.

Evans Kigen, one of the two Liberty Flames scheduled to compete today, had not yet arrived in Lynchburg on Nov. 30. He had recently placed eighth at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, representing New York Institute of Technology.

Clendon Henderson had only been married to the former Brenda Tolsma for a little over five months on Nov. 30. The couple will celebrate its first anniversary on Monday.

It has been a successful year for the Liberty men's track & field program, to say the least. The Flames swept the Big South indoor and outdoor track & field titles for the second year in a row and repeated as IC4A outdoor champions. Now, Henderson and Kigen hope to finish the lengthy season off with a bang in Des Moines.

Henderson will be first up on a warm, sunny Friday, as he is one of 12 competitors in the men's discus final. The event is scheduled to begin in 30 minutes, just outside the north end of the Drake Stadium track. The senior will be in search of his first career All-America certificate and will aim to improve upon his 10th-place showing from last season.

It promises to be a tough competition, as any one of about six throwers (including Henderson) could walk away as national champion. Other top contenders include BYU's Leif Arrhenius, younger brother of 2007 national titlist Niklas Arrhenius, UCLA's Greg Garza, Florida's Wes Stockbarger, California's Martin Maric and Virginia's Yemi Ayeni. A darkhorse candidate could be Colorado State senior Jason Schutz, who recorded the top throw of Wednesday's prelims, 190-8.

All 12 competitors will get three throws, with the top nine making the finals and earning three more attempts apiece.

I don't think I'll have enough time to post an update before the finals. So, I'll provide a full event wrap-up upon the conclusion of the men's discus.

Oh yeah, the weather, which has been such a big factor early on at this meet, has turned gorgeous. Today promises sun, high temperatures in the 70s and a light breeze—some great weather for competing in and watching track & field.

For those of you who can't make it out to Des Moines, CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV) is televising the meet live, from 8-11 p.m. Eastern tonight. The coverage will include Evans Kigen running the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final at 8:40 p.m. Eastern. The broadcast will also be videostreamed over the Internet. Please see the video streaming link at the top of this page.

I'll be back in a bit!