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16 Flames Bound for Greensboro

May 26, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Rebekah Ricksecker (right) and Jennifer Klugh (left) will be two of the first Liberty athletes to compete in the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet, running in the first round of the women's 1,500, Thursday at 5 p.m.

Rebekah Ricksecker (right) and Jennifer Klugh (left) will be two of the first Liberty athletes to compete in the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet, running in the first round of the women's 1,500, Thursday at 5 p.m.

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The first two NCAA Division I Preliminary Round track & field meets ever contested are scheduled to begin Thursday morning. Liberty will send 16 athletes to the Greensboro, N.C., venue, at North Carolina A&T's Irwin Belk Track, to compete in the three-day event which will determine the qualifiers for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The magic number in both Greensboro and Austin, Texas (the other Preliminary Round location) will be 12. There will be 48 entrants in each individual event and 24 squads in each relay, at each of the two sites. Each location will pare its field down to a dozen qualifiers, who will move on to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.

Only three current Liberty athletes—Sam Chelanga, Evans Kigen and Jaime Watson have ever competed at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships before, either indoors or outdoors. So, the other 13 Flames and Lady Flames will be attempting to earn their first trip to the national meet. Event-by-event capsule previews follow.

How to Follow the Flames
Host institution North Carolina A&T will provide live video streaming coverage of the meet, free of charge. Please note that RealPlayer is needed to view this video streaming. If necessary, this program may be downloaded for free by clicking here.

Live results will also be available, courtesy of FlashResults.com.

Finally, LibertyFlames.com tentatively plans to provide live blog coverage of all three days of action, depending on the availability of work space in the Irwin Belk Track press box.

NCAA Preliminary Round Event Capsules
Men's 800-Meter Run
Event Schedule:
First Round – Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Quarterfinal – Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Isaac Wendland (So., Charles City, Iowa)

How He Got Here: Wendland was this year's Big South indoor and outdoor 800-meter runner-up, but his best race came at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier on April 29. Following fellow NCAA Preliminary Round qualifiers Robby Andrews and Lance Roller from Virginia, as well as VMI's Felix Kitur, Wendland clocked a personal-best 1:50.22. The time moved him up to No. 2 on Liberty's all-time performance list in the event and put him in position to race in Greensboro, after a last-minute scratch of another athlete.

Field Breakdown: Between his race at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier and his competition at the IC4A meet, Wendland has gotten a first-hand look at some of the protagonists in what figures to be a very competitive event in Greensboro.

Casimir Loxsom, a freshman from Penn State, owns the top time this year among the 48 entrants, 1:46.74, but another freshman is favored. Andrews of Virginia won the NCAA indoor national title in this event and also outkicked defending NCAA outdoor national champion Andrew Wheating of Oregon in the 4 x 800 at the Penn Relays.

Kitur, the three-time defending Big South champion, hopes to return to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second time in his career and avenge a narrow defeat by Connecticut's Brian Gagnon in the IC4A final.

In all, 10 runners in this region have gone under 1:48 this year and seven are picked to finish among the top 10 in Eugene, including Andrews (second), LSU's Richard Jones (third), Penn State's Ryan Foster (fourth), Loxsom (seventh), Connecticut's Mike Rutt (eighth), Kitur (ninth) and Alabama's Fred Samoei (10th).

Road to Eugene: Six first-round heats will be run on Thursday, with the top three finishers per section and the next six fastest times moving on. Wendland is listed in heat two, where he will face Andrews once again. The 24 remaining athletes will race in three sections on Friday. The top three finishers in each heat and the next three fastest times will punch their tickets to Eugene.

Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase
Event Schedule: Quarterfinal – Friday at 8:30 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Evans Kigen (R-Jr., Eldoret, Kenya)

How He Got Here: Kigen enters as the No. 5 seed, on the basis of his season-best 8:46.53 clocking at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on May 1. The IC4A and Big South steeplechase champion has not lost to any collegiate athletes in his five steeplechase races this season. Kigen was tabbed the Big South Men's Outstanding Track Performer, after winning both the steeplechase and 5K at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Field Breakdown: As usual, the steeplechase features an international field. The top six seeds in Greensboro include three Kenyans, a Canadian, a British runner and one American.

Kigen figures to be one of the favorites, based upon his previous success at the NCAA level. He ran a personal-best 8:43.77 to finish 10th in the steeplechase final at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Kigen also claimed All-America honors with a 20th-place showing at the 2009 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

The Kirui brothers from Ole Miss should also be top contenders. Barnabas was the 2007 NCAA national champion in the steeplechase and crossed the line fourth at the 2009 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Meanwhile, Martin took home the SEC steeplechase crown this season.

Matt Hughes of Louisville is the event's top seed at 8:41.98. He won BIG EAST titles in both the steeplechase and 5K, as part of a breakthrough season. Another runner to watch is Butler senior Stephen Lisgo, who placed third in this event at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Kigen will be joined in the steeplechase by one other Big South Conference runner, High Point freshman Dakota Peachee. He placed fourth at the Big South meet and owns a season-best time of 8:59.62.

Road to Eugene: The 48 entrants at Greensboro will be divided into three 16-member heats. The top three finishers in each heat and the competitors with the next three fastest times overall will qualify for the semifinal round, scheduled for June 9 in Eugene, Ore. Kigen will race in the first section, along with Barnabas Kirui.

Men's 5,000-Meter Run
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Saturday at 8:05 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Sam Chelanga (R-Jr., Nairobi, Kenya)

How He Got Here: Chelanga has only run the 5K once this season, winning the IC4A title on May 14 with a time of 13:54.82. The clocking earned him the No. 8 seed in Greensboro. He blazed a 5K time of 13:37.01 at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, finishing as the national runner-up for the second consecutive season. Also, Chelanga went through the 5K split of his NCAA 10K record-setting race at Stanford in 13:35, before closing in 13:33 for the second half of the race.

Field Breakdown: Due to the fact that only one round of the 5K will be run in Eugene, more distance runners than usual are attempting the 5K/10K double. Chelanga is one of eight runners at Greensboro entered in both of the men's two longest races.

Chelanga is attempting to qualify for the 5K at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the first time since 2007, when he did so as a freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson. He is picked to finish second in Eugene by Track & Field News, behind Northern Arizona's David McNeill, who outsprinted Chelanga to win this year's NCAA indoor 5K national championship.

Auburn's talented distance duo of Ben Cheruiyot and Elkanah Kibet will both double up in the 5K and 10K in Greensboro. Cheruiyot is the top seed at 13:42.59 and won the SEC 5K title, while Kibet is seeded third with a season-best effort of 13:44.59.

Two other faces to watch are at opposite ends of the experience scale. Georgetown senior Andrew Bumbalough placed eighth at the 2009 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Earning All-America honors at the same meet was N.C. State freshman Ryan Hill, who recently captured the ACC 10K crown.

Road to Eugene: The 48 entrants at Greensboro will be split up into two heats of 24 runners. The top five finishers in each heat and the athletes with the next two fastest times will advance to the final at Eugene, scheduled for June 12. Chelanga is listed in the second heat, along with Cheruiyot and Bumbalough.

Men's 10,000-Meter Run
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

Liberty Competitors: Sam Chelanga (R-Jr., Nairobi, Kenya) and Josh Edmonds (Sr., Cooperstown, N.Y.)

How They Got Here: Chelanga has run just one 10K this season, but it was a memorable 25 laps, May 1 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif. The redshirt junior shattered his own NCAA 10K record by 20 seconds, clocking a 27:08.39. It is the fastest collegiate time in the nation in 2010 by more than a minute and makes Chelanga the No. 1 seed in Greensboro by 86 seconds.

Edmonds, meanwhile, has completed a pair of 10Ks this spring. He finished third at the Big South meet, before slicing 45 seconds off of his personal best, May 1 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. The Empire State native's 29:39.68 effort in Stanford makes him the No. 26 seed in Greensboro.

Field Breakdown: Chelanga is obviously an overwhelming favorite to advance to Eugene. In addition to owning the NCAA 10K record, he is also the top returnee from the 10K final at last year's NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. A year ago, Chelanga placed third in the event, trailing only graduating seniors Galen Rupp and Shawn Forrest. This time around, Track & Field News has designated Chelanga as the favorite to capture his first NCAA national title on the track.

Chelanga's stiffest competition this weekend could come from Michigan's Lex Williams and William & Mary's Jon Grey. Williams owns the region's second-fastest time this season, 28:34.28. Grey, who has run a 28:40.33 this season, finished fifth in the 5K at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Like Liberty, Big South rival High Point also boasts a pair of NCAA Preliminary Round qualifiers in the 10K, Jesse Cherry and Cole Atkins. Leading the way for the Panthers is Cherry, as the back-to-back Big South 10K champion is seeded No. 4 at 28:44.05.

Road to Eugene: All 48 10K runners in Greensboro will run together in one race Thursday evening. The top 12 finishers will advance to the final at Eugene, on June 10.

Men's Long Jump
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Thursday at 5 p.m.

Liberty Competitors: Anthony Bryant (R-So., Charlottesville, Va.), Aaron Johnson (So., Virginia Beach, Va.), Clarence Powell (Jr., Marianna, Fla.) and Oronde Vassell (R-Sr., Brooklyn, N.Y.)

How They Got Here: Bryant is seeded No. 41 at 24-3.5, a personal-best jump he achieved April 3 at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. He also finished second behind teammate Powell at the Big South meet.

Johnson, in his first season at Liberty, made a big breakthrough at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier on April 29. Aided by a friendly tailwind, the sophomore reached 24-2.5 and earned the No. 42 seed.

Powell is seeded No. 19, on the strength of a personal-best 24-9.75 leap in the junior's season opener at the April 3 Liberty Collegiate Invitational. He has sailed past the 24-foot mark in four of his five competitions this spring, winning the Big South title and placing third at the IC4A meet.

Vassell saved his best long jump of the year for last, April 29 at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier. In the final home meet of his career, Vassell jumped 24-5.5 to garner the No. 35 seed. He also placed seventh at the Big South meet this season.

Field Breakdown: The long jump has been Liberty's deepest event this year, and the Flames are the only school sending four men's long jumpers to Greensboro. Meanwhile, No. 3 Texas A&M is the only institution with four men's long jumpers qualified to the Austin location of the NCAA Preliminary Round.

Powell figures to be Liberty's top hope in the long jump this weekend, which will be his first of three jumping events in three days. He is the only men's athlete who will compete in the long jump, triple jump and high jump in Greensboro this weekend. Meanwhile, Vassell will be back in action for the first time since April 29, after foregoing the IC4A meet to attend his graduation ceremony in Lynchburg.

The prohibitive favorite in Greensboro is Florida sophomore Christian Taylor. Track & Field News' projected national champion has jumped 26-10.5 this season and was the indoor national runner-up. Last year's NCAA national long jump runner-up, Middle Tennessee State's Stanley Gbagbeke, is also in the field.

LSU figures to make a strong showing in the event, featuring three athletes (Will Coppage, Damar Forbes and Zedric Thomas) who have long jumped 25-8.75 or longer in 2010.

Five of the top six finishers in the long jump at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, including Powell, Vassell, Johnson, Campbell's Diego Lawrence and Virginia's Matt Meyer, will compete in Greensboro.

Road to Eugene: All 48 competitors in Greensboro will receive three long jump attempts. The 16 athletes with the longest marks will each earn three more attempts, after which the top 12 long jumpers will qualify for Eugene.

Men's Triple Jump
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Saturday at Noon

Liberty Competitor: Clarence Powell (Jr., Marianna, Fla.)

How He Got Here: Powell is seeded No. 30, after triple jumping a season-best 50-1.75 at the Merrill Lynch Track Classic on April 10. The Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer then went on to finish second in the Big South and fourth in the IC4A.

Field Breakdown: Powell, looking to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the first time, has come closer in the triple jump than in any other event. He narrowly missed making the national meet as a freshman in 2008, after reaching a personal-best 51-9 at the NCAA East Regional Track & Field Championships in his home state of Florida.

Speaking of Florida, the Gators' efforts will again be spearheaded by Christian Taylor in the triple jump. He was the 2009 and 2010 NCAA indoor national champion in the triple jump and is Track & Field News' pick to win it all outdoors for the first time in his career.

LSU's Zedric Thomas finished second behind Taylor at this year's NCAA indoor meet. Meanwhile, Alphonso Jordan of Georgia Tech, who placed third in that same competition, has recorded a 54-6.5 triple jump this season. That trails only Taylor's 54-8.75 on the Greensboro performance list.

Road to Eugene: As with the long jump, each of the 48 participants will receive three attempts. Then, the 16 longest marks will advance to the final and take three more jumps. At the close of competition, the top 12 finishers will be bound for Eugene.

Men's High Jump
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Friday at 5 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Clarence Powell (Jr., Marianna, Fla.)

How He Got Here: Powell's best clearance this season, 6-10.75 at the Merrill Lynch Track Classic, has him tied for 28th place on the Greensboro performance list. The junior placed third in the event at the Big South meet, after winning the Big South indoor high jump crown.

Field Breakdown: Powell cleared 7-0.25 at each of his first two indoor meets this season, and will likely need to eclipse the 7-0 barrier again if he hopes to qualify for Eugene. Nearly half (23 of 48) of the high jumpers in Greensboro have cleared 7-0 or higher during the current outdoor campaign.

Topping the list at 7-5.75 is Ole Miss freshman Ricky Robertson. He is undefeated this season and is tied for No. 3 on the 2010 world list in the high jump. However, Robertson is only picked to finish second at the national meet by Track & Field News.

The publication's projected national champion, Indiana's Derek Drouin, will also compete in Greensboro. The reigning NCAA indoor national titlist in the high jump has sailed over 7-3.75 during the outdoor season.

Big South champion Jacques Watson of Coastal Carolina also figures to be in the hunt. He jumped a conference-record 7-4.5 at the Florida Relays, the same meet where Robertson achieved his 7-5.75.

Road to Eugene: The 48 high jumpers in Greensboro will compete until 12 or fewer remain. The top 12 competitors will qualify for Eugene, with a jump-off being utilized to determine the final qualifying spot(s) if ties exist.

Men's Shot Put
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Friday at 3 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Ryan Smith (R-Fr., Winder, Ga.)

How He Got Here: Smith seems to be peaking at the right time of the year, posting his best two marks of the season at his last two meets. The Big South indoor and outdoor shot put champion threw a personal-best 57-0.25 at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier on April 29, earning his No. 37 seed. Most recently, Smith stretched the tape to 56-8.75 for a sixth-place finish at the IC4A meet.

Field Breakdown: Smith is one of only four freshmen who will throw the shot put in Greensboro, as the field features many talented, experienced shot putters. Of Track & Field News' projected top nine finishers in Eugene, seven will compete in Greensboro Friday afternoon.

Leading the way is the projected national runner-up, Florida junior Kemal Mesic. He was this year's NCAA indoor runner-up and took third at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His best throw of the year measured 63-7.

Track & Field News also predicts top finishes in Eugene for Georgia Tech's Steve Marcelle (fourth), Auburn's Eric Werskey (fifth), Penn State's Joe Kovacs (sixth), Louisville's Steve Hnat (seventh), Northeastern's Nate Hunter (eighth) and Georgia's Israel Machovec (ninth).

The top 12 throwers in the Greensboro field have reached 60-0 or longer this outdoor season, and five of them have posted top-eight finishes at the NCAA indoor or outdoor championships during the past two years.

Road to Eugene: All 48 shot putters will take three attempts on Friday. The 16 longest marks will then advance to the finals and make three more throws. At the conclusion of the finals, the top 12 throwers will advance to Eugene.

Men's Discus
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Liberty Competitor: Elliot Galeone (R-Jr., White Hall, Md.)

How He Got Here: Galeone's career-best throw, 172-11, helped him place second in the college section at the Penn Relays. He also captured the Big South discus title and finished seventh at the IC4A championship. Galeone is seeded No. 31 at Greensboro, after improving his personal best by more than 11 feet this season.

Field Breakdown: Quite a few throwers are competing in more than one event at the NCAA Preliminary Round, but Galeone's combination of disciplines is pretty unique. Louisiana Tech's Larry Jones is the only other men's thrower at Greensboro entered in both the discus and javelin.

Contrary to the shot put, most of the nation's strongest discus throwers are concentrated in the western half of the country. Track & Field News predicts that the top six finishers in Eugene will come from the Preliminary Round in Austin.

Greensboro's top seed, Southeastern Louisiana's Adonson Shallow, has reached 196-1 this season and competed at last year's NCAA national meet. Central Michigan senior Greg Pilling, the NCAA eighth-place finisher a year ago, is also entered. His season-best throw stands at 187-3.

Road to Eugene: The 48 discus competitors will each take three preliminary attempts. This will determine the 16 participants who will earn three more throws in the finals. At the conclusion of the finals, the top 12 discus throwers will punch their ticket to Eugene.

Men's Javelin
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Friday at 10 a.m.

Liberty Competitor: Elliot Galeone (R-Jr., White Hall, Md.)

How He Got Here: Galeone propelled himself into contention for a spot in Eugene with his very first javelin attempt at the IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships on May 16. His school-record 224-3 effort notched third place in the event and the No. 13 seed for the NCAA Preliminary Round. Galeone also threw over 200 feet four other times this season, including at the Big South meet, where he placed third in one of the conference's strongest events.

Field Breakdown: Galeone will see a lot of familiar faces on the javelin runway, Friday morning in Greensboro. He will be joined by five other Big South throwers—Coastal Carolina's Jason Flanagan, High Point's Josh Pelletier, UNC Asheville's Simon Haake, Winthrop's Jared Baird and Radford's Sean Domer.

Additionally, each of the top seven finishers at the IC4A meet is slated to compete, including champion Craig Kinsley of Brown and runner-up Brandon Heroux of William & Mary. Kinsley, who finished third in this event at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, is picked by Track & Field News to place sixth this time around.

The publication's top pick in the Greensboro Preliminary Round is Georgia sophomore Brian Moore, who it tabs for fifth place in Eugene. Moore, a transfer from North Carolina, won this year's SEC title and owns a season best of 239-4.

Road to Eugene: The javelin will be contested in the same manner as the other throwing events in Greensboro. All 48 competitors will take three throws, which will narrow the field down to the top 16. After each of those 16 athletes makes three more attempts, the top 12 finishers will be Eugene-bound.

Women's 800-Meter Run
Event Schedule: First Round – Thursday at 8 p.m.; Quarterfinal – Friday at 6:45 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Jaime Watson (R-Sr., Ravenna, Mich.)

How She Got Here: After qualifying to run the 800 at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Watson has produced a stellar outdoor season. She broke the school record in both the 400 (53.61) and 800 (2:06.09), eclipsing Heather Sagan's two-lap standard May 1 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. Watson is seeded No. 13 at Greensboro, but her 2:05.42 indoor clocking would rank seventh.

Field Breakdown: On paper, the women's 800-meter run at Greensboro figures to be dominated by two individuals and two teams. LSU senior LaTavia Thomas and Tennessee senior Phoebe Wright are the only two runners in the field who have broken 2:02 this season, and both are past NCAA 800-meter national champions. Meanwhile, LSU and Boston College have combined to post five of the top eight seeds at Greensboro.

Wright, the reigning NCAA indoor national champion in the 800, is picked by Track & Field News to claim her first outdoor crown in Eugene. She led the Volunteers to a sweep of the 4 x 800, 4 x 1,500 and distance medley relay titles at the Penn Relays and, most recently, defeated Thomas to win the SEC championship.

Thomas is the top seed in Greensboro, by virtue of her 2:01.40 clocking this season. She won the 2008 NCAA indoor 800-meter title and is Track & Field News' national runner-up pick this season.

Not to be forgotten is Indiana senior Molly Beckwith, who has run 2:02.18 in 2010 and won the Big 10 title by more than two full seconds. She placed fifth in the 800 at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Other than Wright, Thomas and Beckwith, Watson is the only other entrant at Greensboro who competed in the 800 at the 2010 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Watson finished 15th overall in her first-ever competition at the NCAA national level.

Road to Eugene: The first round of the women's 800 will consist of six heats, including eight runners apiece. Watson is slated to compete in the first section, alongside Thomas and her LSU teammate, Charlene Lipsey. The top three runners from each heat, along with the next six fastest times overall, will move on to Friday's quarterfinal round.

The quarterfinals will be made up of three heats of eight runners each. The top three finishers per heat and the next three fastest time qualifiers will move on to Eugene.

Women's 1,500-Meter Run
Event Schedule: First Round – Thursday at 5 p.m.; Quarterfinal – Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

Liberty Competitors: Jennifer Klugh (So., Centerburg, Ohio) and Rebekah Ricksecker (R-Sr., Laurel, Del.)

How They Got Here: Klugh, who was an All-Big South performer in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track this year, has closed her season with a remarkable run in the 1,500. Her personal-best time stood at just 4:38.63 at the end of April, before the sophomore improved by 11 seconds in her next three races. Still, the Big South's third-place finisher and the ECAC's 10th-place runner in the 1,500 stood at No. 77 on the final TFRRS East Region performance list. However, she made the cut for the Preliminary Round in Greensboro when 29 runners ahead of her scratched.

Ricksecker, meanwhile, earned the No. 31 seed after running a personal-best 4:24.78 at the Duke Twilight meet on May 9. Her year was highlighted by the redshirt senior's third career Big South 1,500-meter title. She became the first runner in Big South history to capture a trio of conference 1,500-meter championships.

Field Breakdown: Klugh and Ricksecker will hope to become Liberty's first women to run the 1,500 at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships since 2002, when Heather Sagan claimed national runner-up honors in the event.

With past 1,500-meter national champion Brie Felnagle of North Carolina focusing on the 5K this year, a pair of Sunshine State runners are expected to battle for top honors in Eugene. Florida senior Charlotte Browning won the mile at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships and boasts the top seed time, 4:13.96.

Meanwhile, Florida State's Pilar McShine finished third in the NCAA indoor mile final this year and has run 4:14.20 outdoors. She is aiming to become the third straight Seminole to capture the NCAA women's 1,500-meter national title, following Hannah England and Susan Kuijken.

North Carolina sophomore Ashley Verplank, the ACC runner-up, vaulted herself into contention with a breakthrough 4:14.10 clocking at the North Carolina A&T Invitational, May 16 at the Irwin Belk Track. West Virginia will also enter a talented trio, consisting of Keri Bland, Karly Hamric and Jessica O'Connell.

Road to Eugene: On Thursday, four first-round heats of 12 will be contested. The top five finishers in each heat and the next four time qualifiers will advance. Ricksecker is listed in the first heat, where she will face Verplank. Klugh will meet Browning and O'Connell in the second section.

The 24 remaining runners will be divided into two quarterfinal heats on Saturday. The top five placers in each heat and the next two fastest times will move on to Eugene.

Women's 10,000-Meter Run
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Thursday at 9:15 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Ashley Osborne (R-Sr., Bristol, Va.)

How She Got Here: Osborne has been impressive in each of her three 10K races this season. She opened her year with a 35:35.65 at the Raleigh Relays on March 26, cutting more than two minutes off of her previous career best and briefly claiming the top spot on the national 10K performance list. Osborne then won the Big South 10K title by 19 seconds, part of a 5K/10K double victory at the conference meet. Most recently, the Commonwealth native lopped another 95 seconds from her previous best time, setting new Liberty and Big South standards with her 34:00.60 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on May 1. That time has her seeded No. 8 in Greensboro.

Field Breakdown: Osborne figures to be in the mix in the 48-member race Thursday evening. She is one of only eight entrants who have run a 34:00 or faster this season and one of only 19 participants who have even broken 35:00 in 2010.

Boston University senior Andrea Walkonen ran a stellar 32:31.33 at the Stanford Invitational on March 26, but has not run a 10K since. Walkonen, who tops the Greensboro performance list by 52 seconds, is picked to finish second in Eugene by Track & Field News.

Clara Grandt of West Virginia came in fourth in the 10K at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and is expected to move up a spot as a senior by Track & Field News. Her best time this year is 33:31.80.

Osborne will also meet a pair of familiar opponents from the ECAC 5K final, in No. 5 seed Sarah Cummings from Princeton and No. 6 seed Katie DiCamillo from Providence. DiCamillo was the only runner to defeat Osborne on that damp evening, while Osborne's school-record time of 16:31.00 placed her 20 seconds in front of Cummings.

Road to Eugene: Irwin Belk Track will be crowded for Thursday night's final race, as 48 runners toe the starting line for the 25-lap event. The top 12 finishers will proceed on to the national final, scheduled for June 9 in Eugene.

Women's 100-Meter Hurdles
Event Schedule: First Round – Friday at 5 p.m.; Quarterfinal – Saturday at 7:20 p.m.

Liberty Competitor: Olivia Charnuski (So., Elmira, Ontario)

How She Got Here: Charnuski was enjoying a solid year, earning All-Big South honors with her third-place showing in the Big South 100 hurdles final, before a huge breakthrough on April 29. That afternoon, the sophomore blazed a wind-aided 13.65 to break the long-standing school record and earn the No. 35 seed in Greensboro. Charnuski followed up that effort with two more sub-14.00 races at the ECAC meet, where she placed sixth.

Field Breakdown: The top three finishers from this year's NCAA indoor 60 hurdles final will all line up for the 100 hurdles in Greensboro, making for an entertaining event. Virginia Tech's Queen Harrison won the NCAA 60 hurdles title, followed by teammate Kristi Castlin and Miami's Ti'erra Brown.

Harrison, a 2008 Olympian for Team USA, is a strong favorite to capture the national championship in Eugene. She ran a stellar wind-aided time of 12.46 at the Penn Relays, and her wind-legal 12.61 clocking the next day is the fastest in the world in 2010.

Castlin was not only the runner-up behind Harrison indoors, but also finished second in the 100 hurdles final at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Her best time this season is a 12.84. Brown (12.82) and UCF's Jackie Coward (12.99) have also run under the 13-second barrier this season.

Road to Eugene: Six first-round heats will be contested on Friday, with the top three finishers in each section and the next six best times moving on. Charnuski is slated for the third heat, along with Harrison and ECAC champion Shericka Ward of Villanova. The 24 remaining athletes will be divided into three heats on Saturday. The top three finishers and the next three best times from those races will move on to Eugene.

Women's Hammer
Event Schedule: Semifinal – Friday at 11 a.m.

Liberty Competitor: Melinda Bendik (Jr., Odessa, Texas)

How She Got Here: Bendik has broken the Liberty women's hammer record four times during her first year with the Lady Flames. The standard is now 183-6, which the junior threw at the ECAC meet to place sixth and earn the No. 33 seed at Greensboro. She also finished as the Big South runner-up and is one of three conference women's hammer throwers making the trip to Greensboro.

Field Breakdown: In addition to Bendik, Big South hammer champion Aimee Veatch of Radford and third-place finisher Brittany Connor of Coastal Carolina will also compete in the NCAA Preliminary Round.

Up front, a good battle is expected between Track & Field News' projected national champion, Georgia's Nikola Lomnicka, and the publication's runner-up pick, Virginia Tech's Dorotea Habazin.
Lomnicka, a sophomore from Slovakia, has thrown 216-9 this season. Interestingly, her brother, Marcel Lomnicky, throws the hammer for Virginia Tech and is Track & Field News' favorite to win the men's NCAA title in that event.

Habazin finished fourth in the women's hammer at last year's NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and has reached 218-11 in 2010.

Louisville also boasts three of the top 10 athletes on the Greensboro performance list, highlighted by Jere' Summers, who Track & Field News picks to finish eighth in Eugene.

Road to Eugene: All 48 women's hammer throwers will take three attempts, with the top 16 marks moving on to the final. After each of the 16 athletes makes three more throws, the top 12 placers will advance to Eugene.