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Liberty Men, Women Lead at BSC Indoor Meet

February 27, 2010  Clemson, S.C.  RSS
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Clarence Powell won the high jump and took second place in the long jump on Saturday, helping the Liberty men's team take a commanding lead.

Clarence Powell won the high jump and took second place in the long jump on Saturday, helping the Liberty men's team take a commanding lead.

The Liberty men's and women's track & field teams combined to win five events on the opening day of the 2010 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Saturday at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex. As a result, both the Flames and Lady Flames sit in first place through six events.

The Liberty men's squad, seeking its 13th consecutive Big South indoor team title, has opened a 58-point lead through six of 17 events. The Flames racked up 91 points on Saturday, leaving them well ahead of second-place VMI's 33 points.

Meanwhile, the women's team battle is much closer, with only 16 points separating the top three teams through six events. Liberty has 59 points, while four-time defending champion Coastal Carolina is seven points back with 52. Radford is a close third with 43 points.

Men's Meet Recap
Sam Chelanga (R-Jr., Nairobi, Kenya) contributed to two of the Flames' event victories on Saturday. He won the 3K convincingly and later anchored the distance medley relay quartet to a come-from-behind victory.

Chelanga, running the 3K for the first time this season, took the lead from the opening gun and led wire-to-wire in an IC4A-qualifying time of 8:14.07. It marked the 10th time in 13 years Liberty has won the men's 3K, the most times the Flames have won any event at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. Fellow cross country All-American Evans Kigen (R-Jr., Eldoret, Kenya) also claimed All-Big South honors by placing third in the 3K in 8:20.78.

Running the final race of the day, Chelanga took the baton in fourth place in the distance medley relay. He then clocked a 4:07.3 for his 1,600-meter leg, giving the Flames more than a two-second victory over runner-up High Point in a final time of 10:06.90.

Will Reeves (R-So., Rustburg, Va.), Chris Herbst (R-Jr., Baiting Hollow, N.Y.) and Paul Arslain (Fr., Dover, Pa.) joined Chelanga on the relay squad which qualified for the IC4A meet and ranks No. 5 on the program's all-time performance list.

Clarence Powell (Jr., Marianna, Fla.) was also successful in a pair of events for the Flames, winning the high jump and taking second place in the long jump for 18 total team points. His third-attempt clearance at 6-9.75 secured the high jump crown, while his season-best and IC4A-qualifying 23-3.25 long jump stood up for second place.

Freshman Kevin Reddington (Vancouver, Wash.) finished right behind Powell in the long jump, ending up third at 23-2. Their efforts helped Liberty score 20 points in the event, as four Flames placed in the top seven.

Later in the day, Liberty did even better in a men's field event, sweeping the top four places in the pole vault for 29 team points. Leading the way was Kolby Shepherd (Jr., Dublin, Ga.), who won the event for the third year in a row by clearing 15-11. He becomes the first men's pole vaulter in meet history to win three conference titles.

Geren Woodbridge (R-Jr., Allentown, Pa.) also got over the bar at 15-11, setting a new personal best and qualifying for the IC4A meet. He captured runner-up honors, as part of a busy day. Justin Savini (Sr., Lincoln, Del.) jumped a personal-best 15-5 for third place and Cody Fridgen's (So., Sarasota, Fla.) cleared 14-5.25 for the fourth spot.

Woodbridge also completed the first four heptathlon disciplines on Saturday, and he is more than halfway to defending his title from 2009. The Keystone State native posted his best-ever day one score, 2,827, giving him a 109-point lead over Charleston Southern's Dominique Riggins with three events remaining on Sunday.

The only other men's event final contested on Saturday was the weight throw, and it also produced a noteworthy performance. Redshirt freshman Ryan Smith (Winder, Ga.) captured sixth-place with his personal-best 57-6.5 toss. The effort hit the IC4A qualification standard and moves Smith up to No. 4 on Liberty's all-time performance list.

Herbst and Isaac Wendland (So., Charles City, Iowa) highlighted Liberty's performances in running event preliminaries. Herbst qualified for the 60-meter hurdles final with a time of 8.32 which is tied for seventh on the program's all-time list. Meanwhile, Wendland's indoor personal-best 800-meter time of 1:54.55 made the final and also earned him a spot at the IC4A meet.

Women's Meet Recap
The 3K was the Lady Flames' most successful event on Saturday, as Liberty took the top two spots and tallied 21 team points. Rebekah Ricksecker (R-Sr., Laurel, Del.) made a decisive move past 2009 Big South cross country champion Hannah Granger of VMI with 500 meters remaining, taking the win in 10:06.96. Teammate Jennifer Klugh (So., Centerburg, Ohio) followed just a half-second back in a personal-best 10:07.46, a time which makes her the No. 5 performer in program history. Dacia Bushman (Jr., Castalia, Iowa) added a sixth-place finish in 10:28.90.

Liberty's distance runners also contributed to a third-place finish in the distance medley relay. Betel Yosef (Fr., Alexandria, Va.), Brittany Heath (Sr., Freeport, Grand Bahamas), Hannah Hunt (So., Sewickley, Pa.) and Hailey Neal (Jr., West Palm Beach, Fla.) became the fourth-fastest quartet in program history with their official time of 12:30.05.

The Lady Flames' run of four consecutive Big South pentathlon titles came to an end, but the team still took a second and fourth-place finish in the multi event. Krystle Matthews (Jr., Chesapeake, Va.), the 2008 Big South pentathlon champion, claimed runner-up honors with 3,242 points. Classmate Jennifer Healey (Virginia Beach, Va.) took the fourth spot with 2,971 markers.

Melinda Bendik (Jr., Odessa, Texas) made a strong first appearance at the Big South meet, recording a personal-best 52-2 weight throw for third place. Cassie Laminack's (So., Muscadine, Ala.) 43-9 in the weight was also a personal best and moves her up to No. 6 on Liberty's all-time list in the event.

Liberty claimed three of the top seven positions in the final long jump standings, led by Matthews' season-best 18-3 leap. Her effort notched fifth place.

The Lady Flames also nabbed fifth place in the high jump, thanks to Marianne Wheeler's (Jr., Wilson, Texas) 5-4.25 clearance.

Jaime Watson (R-Sr., Ravenna, Mich.) enjoyed a record-breaking performance during her heat of the 400-meter dash. She ran a 55.37, which sets new program and meet records in the event. Teammate Chenoa Freeman (Sr., Lincoln, Del.) had established the Liberty record at 55.64 earlier this season.

Olivia Charnuski (So., Elmira, Ontario) also continued her stellar season in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking the fastest qualifying time at 8.65. She is now tied with Danielle McNaney for second on the Lady Flames' all-time performance list.

Action will resume Sunday at 1 p.m., when the heptathlon picks back up with the 60-meter hurdles. The men's mile and women's shot put will follow at 1:30 p.m. at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex. The 2010 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude at 5:50 p.m., with the men's 4 x 400 relay.

Men's Team Scores (Through Six Events)
1) Liberty – 91

2) VMI – 33
3) High Point – 31
4) Radford – 28
5) Charleston Southern – 18
6) Gardner-Webb – 14
7) Winthrop – 12
8) UNC Asheville – 6

Women's Team Scores (Through Six Events)
1) Liberty – 59
2) Coastal Carolina – 52
3) Radford – 43
4) VMI – 21
5) High Point – 19
6) Winthrop – 15
7) Gardner-Webb – 12
8) Charleston Southern – 7
9) UNC Asheville – 6