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Next Up for LU Track: Regionals and Reebok

May 26, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Senior Andrea Beckles will run the 100-meter dash at the NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships, this weekend in Greensboro, N.C.

Senior Andrea Beckles will run the 100-meter dash at the NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships, this weekend in Greensboro, N.C.

Live Results for NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships

Live Results for Reebok Grand Prix

Nine Liberty track & field athletes will be in action during the Flames' final weekend of competition, prior to the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Eight Flames and Lady Flames will attempt to qualify for the national meet at the NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships, while Sam Chelanga, who has already punched his national ticket, will race at the Reebok Grand Prix.

Liberty's athletes will shoot for top-five finishes in their respective events at the regional meet, to be contested Friday and Saturday at North Carolina A&T's Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro, N.C. The top five performers in each event will automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held in Fayetteville, Ark., June 10-13. Additionally, any athlete who places between sixth and 12th this weekend will be eligible for at-large selection to the national meet.

The 10,000-meter run, decathlon and heptathlon are not included in the regional meet schedule. Competitors in those events earn their way to Fayetteville with either automatic or provisional qualification marks. Chelanga's (R-So., Nairobi, Kenya) collegiate-record 10K time of 27:28.48 has automatically qualified him for the NCAA men's 10,000-meter final. Meanwhile, the Flames' decathlon duo of Daniel Newell (R-Sr., Roanoke, Va.) and Geren Woodbridge (R-So., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) have both met the provisional standard. They will learn their national meet fate on June 2.

Chelanga will get his final tune-up for the national meet at the Reebok Grand Prix, Saturday evening at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island, N.Y. He will run the 5,000 meters against some of the best distance runners in the world, including the 2007 world 5K champion, a pair of bronze medalists from the Beijing Olympics and the reigning world cross country champion.

How to Follow the Flames
NBC will provide live television coverage of the Reebok Grand Prix between 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Saturday. It is uncertain at this time whether or not Chelanga's 5K race will be televised, because the meet schedule is still listed as "subject to change."

Live results will be available for both the NCAA Division I East Regional Championships and the Reebok Grand Prix.

Finally, will be on hand at both days of competition in Greensboro, providing live blog updates throughout the regional meet.

NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships Preview

Men's Javelin (Final – Friday at 11 a.m.)
Liberty Competitors: Ryan Bell (Fr., New Wilmington, Pa.) and Elliot Galeone (R-So., White Hall, Md.) How They Got Here: Both Bell and Galeone posted their season-best performances at crucial times. Bell unleashed a school-record 217-10 toss on April 16 to win the Big South title. Meanwhile, Galeone stretched the tape to 204-7 at the IC4A meet on May 16, placing fifth and helping the Flames claim the team runner-up trophy.
Past Regional Appearances: Friday's competition will mark the regional debut for both Bell and Galeone. They will be the first two Liberty javelin throwers ever to compete at the regional level.
Regional Outlook: Bell is seeded No. 12 and Galeone is No. 27 among the 30 javelin throwers entered in the meet. The overwhelming favorite is Georgia junior Chris Hill, the defending national champion who has thrown 265-10 this year. Bell and Galeone will notice at least one familiar face on the javelin runway at Irwin Belk Track, as Jared Baird, a sophomore from Big South rival Winthrop, is entered. Bell, Galeone and Baird are three of the 17 freshmen and sophomores scheduled to throw the javelin in Greensboro this weekend.

Men's High Jump (Final – Friday at 5 p.m.)
Liberty Competitors: Anthony Bryant (R-Fr., Charlottesville, Va.) and Matt Parker (Sr., Rome, N.Y.)
How They Got Here: Bryant's highest leap of the season, 7-0.5, set the Liberty outdoor school record and made him the Big South high jump champion on April 17. Bryant's standard only lasted for a month, however. Parker cleared 7-1 on May 17 to become the Flames' first-ever IC4A high jump champion and eclipse Bryant's record.
Past Regional Appearances: This will be Parker's third appearance in the regional high jump competition. In 2007, Parker got over 6-11 to tie South Florida's Errol Blackmon for fifth place. Blackmon then defeated Parker in a jump-off to claim the final national qualification berth. Last season, Parker tied for 10th place with a 6-9 clearance. Bryant will compete at the regional meet for the first time.
Regional Outlook: Parker is one of five jumpers tied for the No. 5 seed with a 7-1 clearance. Ironically, South Florida's Blackmon is among the group deadlocked at 7-1. Meanwhile, Bryant is tied for the No. 10 spot at 7-0.5. Topping the regional performance list, at 7-3.25, are Georgia Tech senior Jerome Miller and Coastal Carolina redshirt sophomore Jacques Watson. Miller is the top returnee from last year's meet, as he was the regional runner-up in 2008. Bryant and Parker both defeated Watson, sweeping the top two places at the Big South Championship.

Women's 100-Meter Dash (Prelims – Friday at 6 p.m., Final – Saturday at 6:05 p.m.)
Liberty Competitor:
Andrea Beckles (Sr., Lynchburg, Va.)
How She Got Here: Beckles clocked a personal-best 11.74 to win the 100-meter dash at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational on April 4, meeting the regional standard for the first time in her career. Her season also included a third-place finish in the Big South Conference 100-meter final.
Past Regional Appearances: Beckles will be competing in an individual event at the regional meet for the first time this weekend. She does possess a bit of regional experience, though. Beckles ran on the Lady Flames' 4 x 100 relay squad at the 2007 regional meet in Gainesville, Fla., helping Liberty place 14th in the prelims.
Regional Outlook: Beckles is tied for the No. 32 spot out of 37 runners scheduled to run the women's 100-meter dash in Greensboro. Charlotte senior Lamarra Currie is the top seed, at 11.25 seconds. The field also features reigning NCAA national 60-meter dash champion LaKya Brookins of South Carolina and the 2007 regional champion, Murielle Ahoure of Miami. The women's 100 will possess a strong Big South Conference flavor, as Beckles will be joined in the field by Charleston Southern's Misha Morris, Coastal Carolina's Ikeiylah Brown and UNC Asheville's Natalie Pearson.

Men's 400-Meter Hurdles (Prelims – Friday at 8:20 p.m., Final – Saturday at 6:50 p.m.)
Liberty Competitor: Tim O'Donnell (R-Sr., Hurst, Texas)
How He Got Here: O'Donnell ran a personal-best time of 51.35 to win the Big South 400-meter title on April 18. The effort eclipsed the 14-year-old meet record. O'Donnell also made the final at the IC4A championship, where he placed seventh.
Past Regional Appearances: O'Donnell competed in the 400 hurdles at the 2007 regional meet in Gainesville, Fla. He placed 27th in the prelims, with a time of 53.60.
Regional Outlook: O'Donnell is the No. 11 seed in an extremely deep and talented field of 29 hurdlers at the regional championship. Five of the top six performers on the NCAA national performance list are slated to compete in Greensboro, led by South Carolina sophomore Johnny Dutch. His season-best performance, 48.58, ranks fourth in the world for 2009. Georgia senior Justin Gaymon and Albany senior Joe Greene finished third and fourth, respectively, at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Men's Discus (Final – Saturday at 5 p.m.)
Liberty Competitor: John Talbert (Fr., Newton, Kan.)
How He Got Here: Talbert has enjoyed a successful and consistent freshman campaign, eclipsing the regional qualifying standard in each of his nine discus competitions. The Big South discus champion and IC4A runner-up, Talbert recorded his longest throw of the year, 191-9, at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational on April 4.
Past Regional Appearances: Talbert is making his regional debut.
Regional Outlook: Talbert is seeded No. 2 in the region, trailing only Virginia senior Yemi Ayeni. Ayeni, who owns a season-best mark of 197-2, recently captured the IC4A title. He was the NCAA national runner-up in the discus last season, finishing just ahead of current Liberty assistant coach Clendon Henderson. Other throwers to keep an eye on include Georgia junior Israel Machovec and Yale senior Jeff Lachman, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at last season's regional meet.

Men's Triple Jump (Final – Saturday at 5 p.m.)
Liberty Competitors: Anthony Bryant (R-Fr., Charlottesville, Va.) and Clarence Powell (So., Marianna, Fla.)
How They Got Here: Both Bryant and Powell's longest attempts of the season came at the Big South meet on April 18, where the Liberty pair swept the top two places. Bryant reached out to 52-0 that afternoon, breaking Powell's school record. Meanwhile, Powell recorded his best jump of 2009, 50-2.5.
Past Regional Appearances: Powell jumped 51-9 at the 2008 regional meet, finishing ninth and breaking the existing school record. His performance in Tallahassee, Fla., which still represents his personal-best effort, nearly earned at-large qualification for the national meet. Bryant will make his regional debut during Friday's high jump competition. He is the only Liberty athlete who will compete in multiple events this weekend.
Regional Outlook: Bryant is the No. 6 seed, while Powell checks in at No. 16. Florida freshman Christian Taylor, who won the NCAA indoor triple jump championship in March, tops the regional list with a 53-5 jump. Powell is the fourth-highest finisher returning from the 2008 regional meet, trailing Georgia Tech's Alphonso Jordan (second place), Penn State's Clarence Smith (third) and North Carolina's Austin Davis (fourth).

Reebok Grand Prix Preview

Men's 5,000-Meter Run (Saturday at 6:40 p.m., tentatively)
Liberty Competitor: Sam Chelanga (R-So., Nairobi, Kenya)
How He Got Here: Chelanga grabbed the attention of the running community on April 24, when he clocked a NCAA-record 10K time of 27:28.48, winning the Brutus Hamilton Invitational and defeating five Olympians. His top 5K clocking of the year, 13:28.31, came one week later, when Chelanga placed third at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. Chelanga has also won the 5K titles at the Big South and IC4A meets this year.
Past Reebok Appearances: Chelanga competed unattached at the 2008 Reebok Grand Prix meet, placing third in 13:24.73. The time, which still stands as his fastest outdoor 5K, enabled Chelanga to defeat Olympian Alistair Cragg of Ireland in a tight battle for the third spot.
Watching the Clock: In Chelanga's final 5K race of the season, he will take aim at several times. Arizona State's Brandon Bethke has run the fastest 5K of any collegiate competitor during the 2009 outdoor season, 13:27.79. Chelanga's 5K personal bests are 13:24.73 outdoors and 13:19.79 indoors. Liberty graduate assistant coach Josh McDougal owns the Liberty and Big South Conference outdoor 5K standards, at 13:20.43. Finally, the "A" qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships is 13:20.00.
Breaking Down the Field: No runner has ever dipped under 13 minutes in a 5K on U.S. soil, but that could change on Saturday. Chelanga and NAIA 1,500 and 10K champion Aron Rono of Azusa Pacific are the only two college entrants in a star-studded international field of competitors. Kenya's Thomas Longosiwa owns the fastest 5K personal best in the race, 12:51.95. Longosiwa's countrymen Edwin Soi (5K) and Micah Kogo (10K) were both bronze medalists in Beijing. Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam won the 2009 World Cross Country title. Three Americans will toe the starting line, including 2007 world 1,500 and 5K champion Bernard Lagat, three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and 2008 NCAA 5K national champion Bobby Curtis.