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Henderson, McNaney Ready for Olympic Trials

June 25, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Danielle McNaney and Clendon Henderson will both attempt to become Liberty's first Olympians, when they compete at the Olympic Trials, beginning Friday.

Danielle McNaney and Clendon Henderson will both attempt to become Liberty's first Olympians, when they compete at the Olympic Trials, beginning Friday.

A pair of current and former Liberty track & field athletes—Clendon Henderson and Danielle McNaney—are preparing to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials, beginning Friday afternoon at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas) will look to continue a successful season of discus throwing, which recently saw him net a third-place finish at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. McNaney (Gardner, Kan.), a 2005 Liberty graduate, will compete in the heptathlon. She has finished in the top 11 at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships in each of the past three years, but will be making her Olympic Trials debut, like Henderson.

Henderson and McNaney will both be seeking spots on the U.S. team roster for this summer's Beijing Olympics. At the Olympic Trials, the top three finishers who have exceeded the Olympic "A" performance standard in each event will earn positions on the squad.

Three other Liberty seniors nearly joined their teammate and classmate Henderson in Eugene. Jon Hart (Wyomissing, Pa.) just missed qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the men's hammer throw, falling about two feet shy. Brandon Hoskins (Garden City, Texas) and Josh McDougal (Peru, N.Y.) both possess Trials-qualifying marks in their respective events, but each of them is currently injured and unable to compete.

The Olympic Trials will be contested from Friday through July 6 at one of the most famous track & field facilities in the United States, Hayward Field, located on the campus of the University of Oregon. The recently renovated stadium previously hosted the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Trials.

NBC and USA will combine to televise 12 hours of the Olympic Trials, including coverage of all eight days of competition. Live results will also be available at www.usatf.org, and LibertyFlames.com will be on hand to provide in-depth coverage of Henderson and McNaney's efforts to become Liberty's first Olympians.

Clendon Henderson – Men's Discus
Competition Schedule:
Prelims – July 3 at 11:30 p.m. Eastern; Finals – July 6 at 5:20 p.m. Eastern.

Event Outlook:
Henderson has closed out his Liberty track & field career with his finest season. He became an All-American for the first time, by placing third in the discus at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Henderson also threw a Liberty and Big South-record 204-3 to win the Texas Relays discus competition, one of his six discus victories on the year. The effort also helped him become Liberty's first-ever thrower to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Henderson, one of seven collegiate athletes in the 24-member field, is seeded No. 15. The top 12 throwers in the July 3 prelims will qualify for the finals, to be held three days later. Then, the top three finishers who have exceeded the "A" standard of 211-7 will comprise the U.S. Olympic squad.

The favorites to claim the three Olympic berths—Michael Robertson, Jarred Rome and Ian Waltz—all throw for Nike and have combined to win the last four U.S. discus championships. Robertson is the defending national titlist, Waltz won in 2005 and 2006 and Rome took home first place in the 2004 Olympic Trials. Waltz possesses the best qualifying mark, at 226-0.

Danielle McNaney – Heptathlon
Competition Schedule: Day 1 – June 27 (100-meter hurdles at 4 p.m. Eastern, high jump at 4:55 p.m., shot put at 7:20 p.m. and 200-meter dash at 9 p.m.). Day 2 – June 28 (Long jump at 5 p.m. Eastern, javelin at 6:20 p.m. and 800-meter run at 8:24 p.m.).

Event Outlook: McNaney is a veteran of the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships, having competed in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Her best effort came in 2006, when the Kansas native scored a career-high 5,673 points, garnering a sixth-place finish at the national championship meet. Last year, McNaney used a strong second-day effort to jump from 17th place into the ninth spot.

McNaney, seeded No. 18, is no stranger to wearing the Team USA uniform, having represented her country in the Thorpe Cup heptathlon against Germany two straight seasons. In order to don the red, white and blue in Beijing, McNaney will need to finish in the top three at the Olympic Trials and exceed the Olympic "A" standard of 6,000 points.

Five women are entered with qualifying scores of 6,000 points or higher, including favorites Hyleas Fountain, Jacquelyn Johnson and Diana Pickler. Fountain is the 2005 and 2007 U.S. national heptathlon champion, and edged out former Washington State standout Pickler for last year's crown. Johnson recently captured her fourth NCAA heptathlon title, competing for Arizona State.