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Six Former Flames Among USA's Best in Track

January 6, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty assistant track & field coaches Josh McDougal (left) and Clendon Henderson both ranked among the nation's best in two different events in 2008. (McDougal photo by Gary Yandell)

Liberty assistant track & field coaches Josh McDougal (left) and Clendon Henderson both ranked among the nation's best in two different events in 2008. (McDougal photo by Gary Yandell)

Six former Liberty track & field standouts—1998 graduate Josh Cox, 2005 graduate Danielle McNaney and 2008 graduates Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson, Brandon Hoskins and Josh McDougal—were among the top 35 Americans in their respective events for the Olympic year 2008. The information was released in the February 2009 issue of Track & Field News.

Cox is the most recent addition to the list, after winning the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Ala., on Dec. 13. He clocked a winning time of 2:21:23, finishing more than two minutes ahead of the race runner-up and ranking No. 31 on the U.S. year-end list. Cox's training partner Ryan Hall recorded the fastest marathon time by an American in 2008, 2:06:17.

McNaney earned the No. 21 spot on the final U.S. heptathlon list, after scoring a season-best 5,593 points to place 12th at the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 27-28. Olympic silver medalist Hyleas Fountain paced the U.S. annual list with 6,667 points.

Hart set a school record in the men's hammer throw on May 17, unleashing a 222-4 effort to repeat as IC4A champion. The Wyomissing, Pa., native ended up No. 23 on the U.S. year-end list, which was topped by Olympic Trials champion A.G. Kruger's 258-2 heave.

Henderson, now an assistant coach on the Liberty track & field staff, ranked in two different events last year. He finished No. 15 in his specialty, the discus, after he uncorked a school and conference-record 204-3 throw on April 4 to capture the Texas Relays title. Henderson went on to earn his first All-America certificate with a third-place finish in the discus at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and also competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Ian Waltz, who captured the Olympic Trials title, owned the top throw by a U.S. athlete in 2008, 226-0.

Henderson also ranked No. 32 nationally in the shot put, with a season-best 61-10.5 throw at the Virginia Tech Invitational on Jan. 12. The effort made Henderson Liberty's first-ever 60-foot shot putter and qualified him for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The U.S. shot put list was topped by Adam Nelson's 73-6 seasonal best.

Hoskins earned the highest ranking of any Liberty performer in 2008, ending up No. 13 in the decathlon listings. Competing in his home state at the Texas Relays, Hoskins broke the Liberty and Big South records with a personal-best score of 7,800 points on April 2-3. Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay led the U.S. list, with 8,832 points.

McDougal, who finished his Liberty career as a 14-time All-American, made the year-end national lists in a pair of distance events. He blazed to a 3,000-meter clocking of 7:54.85 at the New Balance Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 29, eclipsing his own meet record and ranking No. 19 on the U.S. list for 2008. McDougal, now a graduate assistant on the Liberty track & field staff, placed sixth in the 3K at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Bernard Lagat's 7:34.65 indoor clocking ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for 2008.

Hampered by injury, McDougal only ran the 5,000 meters once during his final collegiate outdoor track & field season. However, his 13:37.13 effort at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 18 made the Empire State native the No. 27 performer on the U.S. yearly list. McDougal also finished fifth in the 5K at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Lagat finished with the year's fastest 5K performance by an American, 13:16.29.

Liberty's first track & field meet of the calendar year 2009 will be the Flames' second home meet of the 2008-09 indoor season. Liberty will host the Liberty Open at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center, Jan. 23-24.