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LU Track Bound for College Station & Conway

March 11, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga will run the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships for the second time in his collegiate career, Friday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. (Photo courtesy Arkansas Media Relations)

Sam Chelanga will run the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships for the second time in his collegiate career, Friday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. (Photo courtesy Arkansas Media Relations)

NCAA Indoor Championship live results

ESPN360.com live video of NCAA Indoor Championship (Starting at 8 p.m. Friday evening)

This upcoming weekend will be a busy one for the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams, as the Flames and Lady Flames will be in action at two different meets. Sam Chelanga will close out the 2008-09 indoor track season Friday evening, when he runs the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas. Meanwhile, a number of Liberty athletes will inaugurate the outdoor track campaign in Conway, S.C., at the weekend Coastal Carolina Invitational.

Fans unable to make the trip to Texas A&M's brand-new state-of-the-art McFerrin Athletic Center for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships can follow Chelanga's progress in several ways. Live results will be available, through Flash Results, Inc. ESPN360.com and NCAA.com plan to video stream different portions of the meet on their respective websites. Finally, ESPN2 will air taped coverage of the meet on March 23, at 2:30 p.m.

2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships
Dates: Friday-Saturday (March 13-14)

Location: College Station, Texas (McFerrin Athletic Center)

Liberty Participant: Sam Chelanga (R-So., Nairobi, Kenya)

Event: Men's 5,000-meter run (Friday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern)

Outlook: Chelanga, the only Big South Conference athlete who qualified for the 2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, will attempt to earn his fourth collegiate All-America honor and his second in the indoor 5,000 meters. Chelanga earned his spot on the starting line by running the second-fastest indoor 5,000-meter time in NCAA history, 13:19.79, Feb. 13 at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.

Chelanga ranks No. 2 on the NCAA performance list, behind Oregon senior Galen Rupp, who clocked a NCAA and American-record 5K time of 13:18.12 to finish just in front of the Liberty sophomore at the Tyson Invitational. Rupp previously edged Chelanga to win the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, Nov. 24, 2008, in Terre Haute, Ind.

Most experts anticipate Chelanga and Rupp to battle it out for first place once again, this weekend in College Station. Both runners participated in the 5,000-meter final at the 2007 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Then a freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson, Chelanga placed fourth in the race, while Rupp was third. Former Liberty standout and current Flames graduate assistant coach Josh McDougal took eighth place.

Although they are the 5K's two headliners, Chelanga and Rupp could be challenged by numerous competitors in the talented, 14-man field. Five of the top 10 finishers from last fall's NCAA national cross country meet will toe the line in College Station, including two of the nation's best freshmen—Oregon's Luke Puskedra (fifth place) and Stanford's Chris Derrick (seventh place)—as well as another of Oregon's four entrants, Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (ninth place). The second (Arkansas senior Shawn Forrest) and third-place (Alabama junior Tyson David) runners from the 10,000 meters at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will also compete for the title on Friday.

Coastal Carolina Invitational
Dates: Friday-Saturday (March 13-14)

Location: Conway, S.C. (CCU Track)

Liberty Participants: Approximately 15 men's athletes and 20 women's athletes

Five Events to Focus On: Men's javelin, women's high jump, men's 5,000-meter run, men's high jump & women's 400-meter dash.

Men's Javelin (Friday, Approximately 2 p.m.): The men's javelin competition will be a featured event on a light Friday of action, as Liberty's Ryan Bell (Fr., New Wilmington, Pa.) and Elliot Galeone (R-So., White Hall, Md.) square off with talented Winthrop sophomore Jared Baird. Baird has already qualified for the NCAA Division I East Regional Championships, on the strength of a 207-0 toss last weekend. Bell will be making his Liberty debut, after ranking No. 4 nationally among high school competitors with a 220-7 javelin throw last spring. Meanwhile, Galeone returns to action after a redshirt season, during which he heaved the javelin 206-7, competing unattached.

Women's High Jump (Saturday, 9 a.m.): Freshman Christina Mitchell (Monroe, Va.) came on at the end of the indoor track & field season, capturing the Big South high jump title with a 5-5 clearance. She will make her outdoor debut in the event Saturday morning, as the top entrant in a field of 26 jumpers.

Men's 5,000-Meter Run (Saturday, 10:15 a.m.): Junior Josh Edmonds (Cooperstown, N.Y.) will return to the oval, after redshirting during the indoor campaign. Edmonds, an All-Region performer during the cross country season, is the defending 5K champion at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. Last year, the Empire State native edged Dayton's Matt Lemon to win the race in a time of 15:08.26.

Men's High Jump (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.):
Matt Parker (Sr., Rome, N.Y.) is the two-time defending Coastal Carolina Invitational men's high jump champion. He is not entered in the event this weekend, but an intriguing matchup between Liberty freshman Anthony Bryant (Charlottesville, Va.) and Coastal Carolina sophomore Jacques Watson is scheduled. Bryant cleared a Big South-record 7-1.5 during the indoor season, narrowly missing national qualification. Meanwhile, Watson sailed over a meet-record 7-0.25 to win the Big South outdoor high jump championship in 2008.

Women's 400-Meter Dash (Saturday, 1 p.m.): Liberty junior Chenoa Freeman (Lincoln, Del.) steadily dropped her times during the indoor season, finishing off the campaign with a 56.79 effort in the 400 at the ECAC Indoor Track & Field Championships, last weekend in Boston. She is entered in a trio of open events at Coastal Carolina, including the 200, 400 and 800-meter competitions. If she chooses to focus on the 400 this weekend, she is expected to be near the front of the pack.