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Liberty Posts Three More Eugene Qualifiers

May 29, 2010  Greensboro, N.C.  RSS
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Clarence Powell will make his first-ever visit to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, competing in the triple jump.

Clarence Powell will make his first-ever visit to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, competing in the triple jump.

Day 3 Blog

Liberty juniors Sam Chelanga, Evans Kigen and Clarence Powell all qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on a fantastic final day, Saturday at the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet at Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro, N.C.

Chelanga capped the day off in style, winning his heat of the men's 5K under the lights and qualifying for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in a second event. His winning time was 13:52.49, the seven-time All-American's fastest clocking this season and the fastest effort in either of Saturday evening's 5K sections.

Chelanga ran with the pack until breaking out to a five-second advantage with a 2:07.80 800-meter split just before the 3K mark. His lead eventually grew to seven seconds, before Georgetown's Andrew Bumbalough made a big move during the last 600 meters. Chelanga ended up holding off the Hoya by a little over a second to reach the finish line first.

Chelanga, the back-to-back NCAA national runner-up in the 5K indoors, will run the event at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the first time since 2007. That will be his second race in Eugene, two days after the 10K final.

Kigen had to wait a little longer than expected, but opened Liberty's successful day in Greensboro by qualifying for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase with a second-place finish in his section. The event was originally slated to be contested Friday evening at 8:30 p.m., but was postponed when a series of thunderstorms pelted Irwin Belk Track.

When the gun finally went off Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., Kigen quickly asserted himself near the front of the pack. He and the other two eventual qualifiers from his heat—Barnabas Kirui of Ole Miss and Cory Leslie of Ohio State—then opened up separation from the rest of the runners with a 67-second split on the third-to-last lap.

Kigen took the lead coming off of the final water jump, but 2007 NCAA national steeplechase champion Kirui edged him for the heat victory. Kigen's official time was 8:47.59, as he earned a berth in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second time in his career. He also made it in 2008 and finished 10th in the final with a school and Big South-record time of 8:43.77.

Powell made things a bit more dramatic in his event, the men's triple jump, before finishing with a record-setting flourish and claiming fifth place. The Sunshine State native's sixth and final attempt was his longest, a leap of 52-1.25 which broke teammate Anthony Bryant's Liberty and Big South record of 52-0. The effort punched his ticket to his first-ever NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where Powell will be the first Liberty men's triple jumper ever to compete.

However, things did not look so promising two and a half hours earlier for Powell, who was competing in his third event in as many days. He stood on the runway for his third and final preliminary attempt in a tenuous spot, after having fouled his first two tries. Powell, seeded No. 30 in the region entering the competition, then posted a leap of 50-9.25, a mark which put him in 14th place and earned three more attempts.

After committing another foul on his first jump of the final round, Powell finished with a bang. His fifth attempt measured 51-7, all but assuring a trip to Eugene. Powell then put some proverbial icing on the cake with his final leap, adding more than four inches to his previous career best, despite battling a slight 0.2 m/s headwind.

Elliot Galeone was the fourth Liberty Flame to compete on a mostly sunny Saturday, throwing the discus during the morning portion of the day's activities. His second throw, 164-10, was his best attempt and netted 23rd place in the 48-member field. Galeone failed to advance, but will move on to Eugene in the javelin, after his Friday performance.

Chelanga, Galeone, Kigen and Powell will now prepare to compete at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The four-day meet will begin June 9 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Powell will be the first Liberty athlete to compete in Eugene, with the men's triple jump set to begin at 7 p.m. Eastern on the meet's opening day.