Matt Parker will compete in the men's high jump prelims tonight at 11:15 p.m. Eastern, after a lengthy weather delay in Fayetteville, Ark.
From the spacious press box overlooking the newly renovated John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark., LibertyFlames.com will provide live updates throughout the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Please see below for other ways to follow all of the action. Meet schedule Live video streaming Live results Heat sheets Fayetteville weather NCAA.com The most recent posts will be located just below this italicized message. You may need to refresh the page periodically to view the latest updates. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, questions or suggestions. Thanks! 11 p.m. - Sorry. I just reread my last post and realized that it was a bit ambiguous. Because Matt Parker was unsuccessful at 6-10.75, he will not qualify for the high jump final. His stellar collegiate career is over. Coastal Carolina's Jacques Watson will be one of the 14 competitors in Friday night's high jump final, though. Now I'll call it a night. 10:55 p.m. - Parker cannot make it over 6-10.75, so his night is complete. Only 14 jumpers were successful at that height. So, the high jump prelims are over in a hurry. Jacques Watson made it over 6-10.75 on his third and final attempt. So, he will be in the final. Thanks for staying up late and keeping track of the Liberty Flames track & field team with me. We'll be back with you tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Central to set the stage for the men's discus prelims. Sleep well tonight and Go Flames! 10:38 p.m. - Both Matt Parker and Jacques Watson made it over 6-8.75 on their second try. 21 of the 26 high jumpers are still alive. So, we will move on to 6-10.75. A first-attempt clearance here will put an athletes in a great position to make Friday's final. 10:20 p.m. - Matt Parker just led a number of the high jumpers in a prayer. Looks like we're getting close to starting! 10:15 p.m. - Action has resumed on the track, as well as in the women's long jump and men's javelin. It looks like we're still a few minutes away from the start of the men's high jump. 10 p.m. - Other than Matt Parker and Coastal Carolina's Jacques Watson in the men's high jump, which is now 15 minutes away from beginning, one other Big South athlete still needs to compete this evening. VMI senior Donnie Cowart will run the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase heats at 11:30 p.m. If I'm still at the track, I'll let you know how he does. In addition to hailing from the Lynchburg area (Rustburg), I was reminded earlier today by one of Cowart's high school teammates that Cowart's high school track & field coach at Rustburg was Liberty track alum Gerald Mosley. 9:40 p.m. - They just announced over the PA system that the men's high jump prelims will begin at 10:15 p.m. They also announced the revised running event schedule. Of note for Liberty fans, Galen Rupp will run the men's 5K at 12:40 a.m. tonight/tomorrow morning, or 21 hours before he is slated to line up for the 10K final. The reaction in the press box when they announced the start time for the men's 5K? Half groans and half laughs. We've been at the track for almost 12 hours today, and the fun has only just begun. 9:35 p.m. - To reiterate something I wrote earlier, Matt Parker will compete in flight one of the two simultaneous high jump groups. The opening height will be 6-8.75. At one point, Matt may have passed the opening height. However, he will likely jump at 6-8.75 to try and get back into a jumping rhythm after such a lengthy delay. 9:30 p.m. - Matt Parker and the other men's high jumpers are currently reporting in at the event site, as blow drying and squeegeeing continues around them. They may try to begin the event sooner than 10:15, if all athletes are properly warmed up. Running events will resume promptly at 10:15, with the first round of the women's 400-meter dash. The running events will utilize a rolling time schedule. Even so, Galen Rupp will not run his men's 5K prelim until at least midnight local time. 9:25 p.m. - At long last, we have an official word. They are now aiming to resume all running and field events by 10:15 p.m. tonight. The field is abuzz with activity, as officials have returned to their posts and athletes have begun to warm up. 9:15 p.m. - Sam Chelanga is not scheduled to run the 10K until tomorrow night around this time. However, his name just appeared on the various electronic result boards here on the John McDonnell Field infield. They decided to scroll through the men's 5K results from the Reebok Grand Prix meet, including Sam's eighth-place finish. Matt Parker and the remainder of the Liberty contingent returned to the Comfort Inn to relax for a couple of hours during the rain delay. Now, they are all on their way back to campus, so Matt can resume preparation for his event. 9:05 p.m. - A crew armed with leaf blowers and squeegees have begun to work, focusing on the long jump and javelin runways first. Looks like we will see some more track & field tonight after all! An official start time has not yet been announced though. No officials, coaches or athletes are visible yet. 9 p.m. - There is now an update on the NCAA.com page stating that competition will not begin any sooner than 9:30 p.m. Central tonight. The rain has nearly stopped and lightning has not struck for nearly 25 minutes. So, an end to our weather delay may be in sight! 8:40 p.m. - As an update to my most recent post, you can see the orange sky for yourselves if you click the live video streaming link above. 8:35 p.m. - It's still raining and lightning, but we may have a glimmer of hope. The sky has turned a bright color of orange just over the ridge behind the west side of John McDonnell Field, which must mean that the sun has broken through the clouds somewhere to our west. At the very least, it is a beautiful scene to look at, after watching the rain fall for the last hour and a half. A lot of my fellow SIDs are taking pictures of the beautiful sky, and I'll try to link to one of their photos if they post them online. The incredible nature of God's creation never ceases to amaze! 8:20 p.m. - Rumors are flying about, saying that the weather delay will end at approximately 9 p.m., but we have not heard any official updates in the press box. In the meantime, I will mention the effect that this delay could have on Sam Chelanga's chances against Oregon's Galen Rupp in tomorrow night's men's 10,000-meter final. Rupp still needs to run a preliminary heat of the 5K, either late tonight or early tomorrow. However things happen, it appears that he will have less rest than anticipated between his 5K heat and the 10K final versus a fresh Chelanga. Rupp has enjoyed an unbelievably successful senior season for the Ducks, though, and it will likely take more than a weather delay to sabotage his chances of winning the 10K. After all, he won the 3K and 5K while anchoring Oregon's distance medley relay on back-to-back days at the NCAA indoor meet in March. Certainly, these are less than ideal circumstances for the nation's top collegiate athletes to put their best foot forward in Fayetteville. However, all competitors will be dealing with the same weather-created obstacles, and those who are best able to maintain their focus will be rewarded with the best results. 8 p.m. - No official updates have been announced yet, so I'm trying to play weather man myself. The really ugly looking swatch of thunderstorms is currently passing just to the south of Fayetteville, which is good news for us. However, we still have a few more storms which will take at least 45 minutes to an hour to pass through town. In my opinion, athletes will return to the track at 9 p.m. Central at the very earliest and then will be allowed ample warm-up time before resuming their events. 7:40 p.m. - Whether it's contested later tonight or tomorrow morning, here's a brief look at how the men's high jump prelims will be conducted. The 26 contestants have been divided into two groups of 13, which will compete simultaneously at the two high jump pits at the north end of the infield. Matt Parker is the ninth jumper in flight one, sandwiched between the two international athletes in the field, Indiana's Derek Drouin (Canada) and USC's Manjula Wijesekara (Sri Lanka). Coastal Carolina's Jacques Watson is the seventh jumper in flight two. The opening height will be 6-8.75, followed by 6-10.75, 7-0.25, 7-1.5 and 7-2.5. The competition will continue until 16 or fewer athletes remain alive at a height change. If fewer than 12 athletes remain at that point, tiebreakers will be used to place the top 12 jumpers (plus ties) into the finals. Last year, every jumper who was successful at 7-0.25 made the final, as well as the 6-10.75 jumpers with the fewest misses. The rain has let up a bit, but some more lightning may be on the way. We'll see what happens. 7:25 p.m. - No update so far on a potential revised time schedule. It's raining torrentially, and the radar (see Fayetteville weather link above) indicates that we haven't seen the worst of this storm yet. I see one of two scenarios playing out. 1) We wait until the thunderstorms pass through the area in an hour or two and then resume the meet, pushing events deep into the Fayetteville night. 2) We scrap the rest of tonight's events and reschedule them for early tomorrow morning. As soon as a decision is made, you will be some of the first to know. So, stay tuned to LibertyFlames.com. 7 p.m. - Matt Parker and the rest of the men's high jumpers were about to start warming up for their event when they did an about face and promptly returned to the check-in area. Severe weather is on its way to Fayetteville, and they are delaying the start of the men's high jump (along with several other events) until the approaching storm passes through the area. I will keep you updated about the schedule changes for tonight's remaining events. 6:25 p.m. - Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the men's 100-meter dash participants posted three times of 10.04 or faster in the prelims, which just concluded. Leading the way was Trindon Holliday of LSU, with a 10.00. Both the men's and women's 100-meter dash semifinals will be held later this evening. The rain has started to fall, but is not accompanied by thunder and lightning at this point. So, the action continues. Notably, one of Matt Parker's most memorable high jump performances happened in the rain. He was one of only two high jumpers to clear the opening height during a driving rainstorm at the 2008 IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships, sliding over the bar on his third and final attempt. Parker's unlikely second-place finish gave Liberty eight team points. Incidentally, the Flames defeated Virginia by seven tallies to win their second straight IC4A crown. 6:10 p.m. - A few rain drops are falling and the wind has died down a bit, but that didn't stop Texas' Alex Anderson from running the fourth-fastest women's 100-meter dash time in the world this year, 11.02! That's only the first of three rounds, so we'll see what Anderson has in store the rest of this weekend. 5:55 p.m. - The rain has not found its way to Fayetteville yet, knock on wood. Oregon's Andrew Wheating just thrilled the sizable and vocal group of Ducks fans which has made its way from Eugene to Fayetteville. The 2008 U.S. Olympian used his trademark come-from-behind running style to win his heat of the men's 800 meters. I'll give some notes on what to watch out for in the men's high jump prelims as the event's start time approaches in two hours. 5:15 p.m. - Exciting news for Charleston Southern and the Big South Conference! The Lady Bucs' 4 x 100 relay quartet of Jessica Thomas, Dionne Gibson, Misha Morris and Gabrielle Houston just broke their own own school and conference record while finishing third in the opening heat at 44.35. That outstanding time qualified CSU for the women's 4 x 100 final. Charleston Southern will line up alongside Texas A&M, LSU, Florida State, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Baylor, Arizona State and Tennessee in the final, scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Friday evening (Central). The race will open up the CBS College Sports live TV broadcast that night. Congratulations to CSU! I'm going to take a break for a little dinner, before returning to cover Matt Parker in the men's high jump prelims at 8 p.m. Central. In the meantime, I'll post any noteworthy accomplishments I see, as well as answer any questions I receive. 4:55 p.m. - Daniel Newell will enter Thursday's decathlon competition in 14th place. His first-day score of 3,894 points is only 22 tallies shy of his career-high opening-day score. Ashton Eaton has racked up 4,367 points thus far, giving him a 229-point lead over Trinity Otto. Earlier, we were discussing the qualifications for becoming an All-American. Right now, Newell ranks 10th among the U.S.-born decathletes. Rice's Philip Adam is currently in the final All-American position (8th American, 12th overall) with 3,962 points--68 markers ahead of Newell. The second day of the decathlon will begin tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Central, with the 110-meter hurdles. We were just treated to a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, which means that running events are about to begin. I'll post a recap of Charleston Southern's performance in the women's 4 x 100 relay in a few minutes. I'll conclude this post by giving the day one decathlon standings. 22 decathletes completed all five of today's events. Decathlon Standings (Through Day One) 1) Ashton Eaton, Oregon - 4,367 2) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M - 4,138 3) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State - 4,131 4) Michael Ayers, Tennessee - 4,128 5) Mateo Sossah, North Carolina - 4,115 6) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska - 4,075 7) Mat Clark, Northern Iowa - 4,023 8) Lars Rise, Missouri - 3,989 14) Daniel Newell, Liberty - 3,894 4:35 p.m. - After five hours of competition, we have concluded the first day of the decathlon at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Here's how the four heats of today's fifth event, the 400-meter dash, went down. Heat 1 - Ashton Eaton completes an outstanding first day by winning the heat in 46.85. Daniel Newell starts out hard and comes home in fourth place. His time is a personal-best 48.87. Very solid opening day for Newell. Heat 2 - Trinity Otto of Texas A&M makes a nice move down the backstretch and hangs on to win in 48.94 seconds. Heat 3 - Missouri's Lars Rise wins the heat comfortably, in a lifetime-best clocking of 49.99. Heat 4 - Bjorn Barrefors of Nebraska holds on for a heat victory in 49.96 seconds. Cumulative scores will follow shortly. 4:15 p.m. - They just turned on the lights at McDonnell Field, as the skies darken. Hopefully, the rain will hold off at least long enough for us to wrap up the decathlon 400. After the high jump, Daniel Newell has slipped to 17th place overall, while Ashton Eaton is back into first. Here's how it stands: Decathlon Standings (Through Four Events) 1) Ashton Eaton, Oregon - 3,401 2) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M - 3,274 3) Michael Ayers, Tennessee - 3,272 4T) Mateo Sossah, North Carolina - 3,263 4T) R.J. McGinnis, Minnesota - 3,263 6) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska - 3,259 7) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State - 3,242 8) Kevin Dwyer, Miami (Ohio) - 3,192 17) Daniel Newell, Liberty - 3,027 Newell's 6-2.75 high jump clearance added 714 points to his score. As mentioned previously, he can make a move upward in the standings after this event, which is one of his best. Newell clocked a 48.99 at his most recent competition, the IC4A meet, and his career best stands at 48.94. Newell will run four lanes to the outside of Eaton, who is a very strong 400-meter dash performer. I'll be back with a recap of the four 400-meter dash heats in a bit. 3:55 p.m. - We just completed the decathlon high jump, with North Carolina's Mateo Sossah winning the event at 6-9.75. So, we should start the 400-meter dash around 4:20 p.m., with Daniel Newell entered in the first heat. I'll have decathlon standings through four events shortly. 3:15 p.m. - As the decathlon high jump competition continues, I am going to take this opportunity to respond to a question I received in an email ealier this afternoon. Here's the inquiry: What does it take to become a track & field All-American? The answer is a bit complex, because it is different for U.S.-born athletes and foreign-born competitors. For foreign-born athletes, like Liberty's Sam Chelanga, they must finish in the top eight of their event to be labeled an All-American. For U.S.-born athletes, however, they only need to be one of the top eight American finishers to earn All-American status. For example, Daniel Newell is one of 18 American-born decathletes remaining in the competition. As a result, he needs to defeat 10 of those Americans in order become Liberty's eighth All-American in the decathlon. It doesn't matter what place Newell finishes in the overall standings--only how he places among the U.S.-born athletes. Hopefully, that adequately answers the question. I will keep an eye on each of the Flames' chances at All-America status throughout the weekend. Very good question! 3 p.m. - Newell is unable to make it over 6-4. His second attempt was his best. So, he will top out at 6-2.75 today in the high jump. Newell will now wait for the high jump competition to conclude before getting ready for today's final decathlon event, the 400-meter dash. This is one of his very best events, as Newell has dipped under 49 seconds several times. He will run in the first (fastest) section, a bit later this afternoon. 2:45 p.m. - Newell misses his first high jump try of the afternoon, but makes it over 6-2.75 on the second attempt. 6-4 will be up next for Newell. None of the 12 jumpers in his section have been eliminated yet. Again, 6-6.75 is Newell's career-best high jump effort. 2:38 p.m. - Daniel Newell is successful on his third straight high jump attempt, going over 6-1.5 with plenty of room to spare. 6-2.75 will be the next height he will try. 2:35 p.m. - After passing through 5-11.25, Newell looks comfortable once again, sailing over 6-0.5. 6-1.5 will be the next height the bar is raised to at Newell's pit. The other pit is still competing at 5-8.75. 2:30 p.m. - Daniel Newell starts high jumping at 5-10 and makes an easy clearance. The bar will be raised to 5-11.25 at his pit, located closest to us at the north end of the infield. 2:12 p.m. - Looks like 5-8.75 will be the opening height at Newell's high jump pit. I would expect him to pass the first couple heights. Newell's personal-best clearance of 6-6.75 came at this year's Big South meet. 2:10 p.m. - Daniel Newell remains in 15th place through three events of the decathlon, after his shot put result boosted his cumulative score to 2,313 points. He is still only 100 points out of seventh. Missouri sophomore Lars Rise recorded the longest shot put among the 23 remaining decathletes, 52-3.75. The outstanding effort enabled him to overtake Ashton Eaton for the overall lead, 2,614 to 2,607. The high jump should start in about 10 minutes. Decathlon Standings (Through Three Events) 1) Lars Rise, Missouri - 2,614 2) Ashton Eaton, Oregon - 2,607 3) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M - 2,560 4) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State - 2,502 5) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska - 2,492 6) Michael Ayers, Tennessee - 2,478 7) R.J. McGinnis, Minnesota - 2,413 8) Mat Clark, Northern Iowa - 2,411 15) Daniel Newell, Liberty - 2,313 1:55 p.m. - I'll give you a weather update as we await more information on the decathlon standings. It's currently 84 degrees in Fayetteville with a heat indext of 89, under overcast skies. The wind, which has helped produce many personal bests so far today, is sustained at 15 mph out of the south-southwest, gusting to 20 mph. We have a chance of some severe thunderstorms this afternoon, but nothing has shown up on the radar as of yet. 1:45 p.m. - Newell's third shot put attempt is almost exactly as long as his second, reaching 43-4.5. A solid performance by the redshirt senior from Roanoke, Va., and I expect him to move up slightly in the decathlon standings, which should be available within the next 10-15 minutes. Newell has two events left today--the high jump and the 400-meter dash. He will high jump in group one, as the jumpers are divided into two sections which will be contested at the same time. 1:35 p.m. - Newell claps his hands in excitement after seeing his second shot put land at 43-5. It's his second-longest throw of the year. He will have one attempt left, before moving on to the high jump pit. 1:30 p.m. - Daniel Newell just took the first of his three shot put attempts and reached 41-7. He will have two tries remaining. Newell's personal-best shot put is 43-11.25, which he achieved at this year's Big South meet in Radford, Va. 1:10 p.m. - They have posted the updated decathlon standings, and Newell is now 15th overall with 1,632 points. His 21-6.75 long jump, aided by a 3.8 m/s wind, was worth 713 points. Ashton Eaton is still in first place, now owning a 130-point edge over Texas A&M's Trinity Otto. Here's a look at the standings. Decathlon Standings (Through Two Events) 1) Ashton Eaton, Oregon - 1,966 2) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M - 1,836 3) Michael Ayers, Tennessee - 1,822 4) Mat Clark, Northern Iowa - 1,794 5) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska - 1,782 6) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State - 1,772 7) Lars Rise, Missouri - 1,766 8) Gray Horn, Florida - 1,741 15) Daniel Newell, Liberty - 1,632 Four of the top seven decathletes hail from Big 12 institutions. Newell is only 62 points out of ninth place, and one of the athletes ahead of him (Kansas State's Rok Derzanic) has just dropped out. Newell will throw in flight two of the shot put, along with Ashton Eaton. Again, both flights of the shot put will be contested simultaneously, at the south end of the infield. 12:45 p.m. - Newell takes off before the board again on his third and final attempt, ending up at 21-5.25. So, his second jump (21-6.75) was his best. A lot of decathletes will leapfrog him in the overall standings after this event, which is not one of the senior's strongest disciplines. He is better in the shot put, which will be next on the schedule. One more noteworthy development, before I run down to lunch. Ashton Eaton fouled his first two attempts, putting pressure on the decathlon favorite to get a legal mark on his third long jump. He slowed down at the end of his run and jumped before the board, but he still leaped 24-10.5! Not to steal the NBA Playoffs' slogan, but that was amazing! I'll be back shortly with updated decathlon scores, entering the shot put. 12:35 p.m. - Newell gets a lot of the board on his second long jump try and improves to 21-6.75. He will have one attempt remaining. I'll let you know how that turns out, and then run down to grab lunch at Bud Walton Arena before they close up shop. 12:20 p.m. - Newell takes a safe first attempt, taking off before the toe board and landing at 20-6.5. He will hope to take better advantage of the still strong tailwinds on his last two attempts, now that the redshirt senior has a legal mark on the board. The longest jump I have seen so far is 23-8.25, by Moritz Cleve of Kansas State. I'll be back shortly, with updates from Newell's next two tries. 12:05 p.m. - While Newell continues to warm up for the long jump, I will take this opportunity to address the first question I received today. In addition to Daniel Newell in the decathlon and Matt Parker in the high jump, the Big South Conference will be represented in two other events today. Charleston Southern's women's 4 x 100 relay squad, the first Big South relay team ever to compete at the NCAA national meet, will run in the prelims at 5 p.m. Central. Then, VMI senior Donnie Cowart, who went to high school just south of Lynchburg in Rustburg, will compete in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase prelims this evening at 8:15 p.m. Additionally, Coastal Carolina's Jacques Watson will join Parker in the men's high jump prelims at 8 p.m. I will try to post updates on the CSU relay, Cowart and Watson as the day progresses. Thanks for the feedback! 11:50 a.m. - Daniel Newell is in fourth place out of the 25 decathletes after his stellar 100-meter dash time, with 919 points. Pre-meet favorite Ashton Eaton leads the way by 73 points, with 1,011 tallies. Here are the top eight decathletes through one event. Decathlon Standings (Through One Event) 1) Ashton Eaton, Oregon - 1,011 2) Trinity Otto, Texas A&M - 938 3) Michael Ayers, Tennessee - 922 4) Daniel Newell, Liberty - 919 T5) Mat Clark, Northern Iowa - 906 T5) Moritz Cleve, Kansas State - 906 7) Bjorn Barrefors, Nebraska - 872 8) Rok Derzanic, Kansas State - 870 Next up will be the long jump, scheduled to begin in approximately 25 minutes. The decathletes will be divided into two groups, which will jump simultaneously at the two pits located parallel to the main straightaway. Newell is listed in group 2, where he will jump sixth. Again, a strong wind will be at the athletes' backs. Hopefully it pushes Newell past his personal-best distance of 22-3. 11:45 a.m. - One decathlon event is in the books here in Fayetteville. Here's how I described the four heats of the 100-meter dash. I'll be back with the athletes' scores shortly. Heat 1 - Philip Adam of Rice wins in 10.98 seconds, edging Nebraska's Skyler Reising at the line. Reising clocked 11.00. The athletes were aided by a 2.7 m/s tailwind. Hopefully that breeze persists until Daniel Newell's heat. Heat 2 - Another heavily wind-aided heat. This time, the wind gauge measured 3.4 m/s. It pushed Nebraska freshman Bjorn Barrefors to a lifetime-best 10.95 seconds. Heat 3 - The wind is still blowing, at 2.8 m/s. Patrick Woods of Ohio State leans at the line to win the section in 11.21 seconds, narrowly defeating Idaho State's Nathan Capps, who clocked 11.22. Heat 4 - This heat sees the strongest wind of the four sections, 4.1 m/s. Ashton Eaton of Oregon, the defending national champion, flies to a 10.35 clocking to win the heat. Newell places fourth in a lifetime-best 10.74 seconds. That's a significant improvement over his previous best of 10.89, set earlier this season. It is also the second-fastest 100-meter time ever run by a Liberty decathlete, trailing Brandon Hoskins' 10.71. 11:15 a.m. – Let's set the stage for the 100-meter dash, the first of 10 disciplines on tap for Daniel Newell and the other 24 decathletes during the next two days. The athletes have been grouped into four heats, based on ability. Due to his wind-aided 10.89 personal best, Newell will run in the fourth and final heat alongside the fastest sprinters. Newell's heat includes the defending national champion and pre-meet favorite, Ashton Eaton of Oregon. Also lining up in Newell's section will be Big 12 decathlon champion Moritz Cleve of Kansas State. Only one event is currently underway on a sunny, breezy morning in Fayetteville. The men's hammer prelims are taking place on the pristine infield. They are keeping the infield in such nice condition by replacing the divots after each hammer lands. If you're looking for all of the information anyone could ever want on the NCAA decathlon, click here. This packet was compiled by Frank Zarnowski, who will be describing all of the decathlon and heptathlon action over the PA system here at John McDonnell Field this week. 11 a.m. Central – Welcome to John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. This very impressive facility is named for the coach who led Arkansas' cross country and track & field programs to an astounding 40 NCAA national team championships. Over the next four days, more than 1,000 of the finest collegiate athletes in the nation will strive to become national champions themselves. This incredible collection of talent includes four Liberty Flames—seniors Daniel Newell and Matt Parker, sophomore Sam Chelanga and freshman John Talbert. While Chelanga is already a four-time All-American, the other three Flames will be making their first-ever NCAA national meet appearances this week. Arkansas is hosting the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the first time, but nearby Randal Tyson Track Center has been the site of some memorable moments for Liberty track & field. Heather (Sagan) Zealand won Liberty's first NCAA Division I national championship there in 2002, Josh McDougal earned seven All-America certificates within the facility and Chelanga clocked a school-record 13:19.79 5K there just four months ago. The weather for this week is supposed to be warm, but not unbearably so for Fayetteville at this time of year. As is the case on many Lynchburg summer days, thunderstorms could pop up just about any afternoon. Thunderstorms delayed the opening day of the NCAA national meet last year in Des Moines, Iowa for a couple of hours. Hopefully, we don't see a reprise in 2009. Both Liberty seniors—Newell and Parker—will compete today. Newell will complete the first five decathlon events, beginning with the 100-meter dash in 30 minutes. Parker is then scheduled to high jump at 8 p.m. local time, when he will attempt to earn a spot in Friday night's final. I have been informed that I am allowed an unlimited amount of blog updates at the national meet this year. So, I will post numerous updates throughout the decathlon and high jump and also make note of anything else interesting I observe. It should be a fun four days of track & field, which will hopefully see the Flames make some more positive memories in Fayetteville. As always, please contact me at the above email address if there are any questions you would like me to address. Go Flames!
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