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8 Current and Former Flames Among 2009's Best

January 5, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Josh Cox (left) ranked No. 7 in the U.S. for the men's marathon in 2009, while Sam Chelanga finished the year listed No. 18 in the world for the men's 10K.

Josh Cox (left) ranked No. 7 in the U.S. for the men's marathon in 2009, while Sam Chelanga finished the year listed No. 18 in the world for the men's 10K.

Eight current and former Liberty track & field athletes have been listed among the top performers for 2009 in their respective events, as published in the February 2010 issue of Track & Field News.

Highlighting the Flames' honorees were men's distance runners Sam Chelanga and Josh Cox. Chelanga, now a redshirt junior, was Liberty's lone representative on world top 40 lists, ending the year ranked No. 18 in the 10K. Meanwhile, 1998 graduate Cox was the highest-ranking Flame on the U.S. year-end lists, finishing No. 7 in the marathon.

Below are capsules on each of the current and former Liberty track & field athletes listed in the current Track & Field News, in alphabetical order.

Anthony Bryant – No. 38 on the U.S. men's triple jump list at 52-0. Bryant, now a redshirt sophomore, broke the Big South overall record, Big South meet record, Liberty record and stadium record with his career-best 52-0 triple jump, April 18 at Radford, Va. The record-breaking leap, which came on his sixth and final attempt, punctuated Bryant's Big South Men's Field Performer of the Year award.

Sam Chelanga – No. 18 on the world men's 10K list at 27:28.48. Chelanga set the all-time NCAA 10K record April 24 in Berkeley, Calif. with a 27:28.48, shaving five seconds off of Galen Rupp's mark and defeating five Olympians in the process. That memorable evening marked just one of many highlights for Chelanga in 2009, including the NCAA Division I Cross Country individual title and four All-America honors.

Josh Cox – No. 7 on the U.S. men's marathon list at 2:13:51. Cox, now 34 years old, showed no signs of slowing down in 2009. On Dec. 6, he placed second in the California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif., clocking a personal-best time of 2:13:51. His previous best of 2:13:55 had been achieved nine years earlier in Chicago. Cox also set a new American record at the 50K distance on Jan. 18, posting a 2:47:17 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Clendon Henderson – No. 17 on the U.S. men's discus list at 196-6. Henderson, a 2008 Liberty graduate, joined coach Brant Tolsma's staff as an assistant coach last season, but also continued competing. His year was highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the discus, June 26 at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Henderson's best throw that evening reached 196-6, leaving him just three inches shy of fourth place.

Carol Jefferson – No. 29 on the U.S. women's marathon list at 2:41:15. Jefferson, another member of Liberty's talented senior class in 2008, highlighted her year of running on Oct. 11 at the Chicago Marathon. She finished 12th in a deep and talented international field with the fastest time ever run by a Liberty women's track alum, 2:41:15.

Danielle McNaney – No. 10 on the U.S. women's heptathlon list at 5,688. McNaney, a 2005 Liberty graduate, posted a personal-best 5,688 points in the heptathlon, June 27-28 at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Her score was good for seventh place, which earned McNaney the right to represent Team USA at the Thorpe Cup in Marburg, Germany for the fourth consecutive year. McNaney also had one other reason for celebration in 2009, marrying nationally-ranked decathlete Joe Detmer on Dec. 27.

Daniel Newell – No. 29 on the U.S. men's decathlon list at 7,302. Newell saved the best decathlon performance of his collegiate career for last, June 10-11 at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. He scored a career-high 7,302 points over the two-day competition, finishing 16th at the national meet.

John Talbert – No. 28 on the U.S. men's discus list at 191-9. Talbert heaved the discus a personal-best 191-9 on April 4 at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, highlighting a stellar freshman season with the Flames. He was the Big South discus champion and the IC4A runner-up, before becoming one of only two true freshmen to throw the discus at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.