The Flames and Lady Flames celebrate the Big South Conference's first-ever Double Triple.
The Big South Conference's first-ever "Double Triple" of team championships and Sam Chelanga's NCAA national title and all-time record at the 10K distance highlighted another successful season for the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams. Below is a summary of some of the Flames and Lady Flames' most notable accomplishments this year, spanning both indoor and outdoor track & field.
Team Accomplishments Double Triple On April 17, the Liberty men's and women's outdoor track & field teams completed the Big South Conference's first-ever "Double Triple," sweeping the team titles at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Charleston, S.C. The Flames and Lady Flames had previously been victorious at the Big South Cross Country Championships (Oct. 31, High Point, N.C.) and Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 27-28, Clemson, S.C.). News and Notes: -- Liberty was the nation's only NCAA Division I track & field/cross country program to achieve a "Double Triple" in 2009-10 and the first to do so since BYU in the Mountain West Conference in 2006-07. -- Liberty became just the ninth NCAA Division I school ever to record a "Double Triple," and the feat has only been achieved 18 times in NCAA Division I history. -- The men's indoor track & field team defeated runner-up Charleston Southern by 70 points, 192-122. -- The Flames have now captured all 13 Big South men's indoor track & field championships ever awarded, which is the longest run of consecutive titles in Big South Conference history. -- The women's indoor track & field team knocked off four-time defending conference champion Coastal Carolina, 182.5-145, for its first Big South championship since 2005. -- At the outdoor conference meet, the Liberty men's team posted a 194-117.5 win over second-place Coastal Carolina. -- The victory was the Flames' fourth in a row and Liberty's 15th championship in the 17-year history of the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. -- Meanwhile, the Lady Flames completed the Double Triple with a 245.5-191 victory over Coastal Carolina at the outdoor conference meet, returning to the top of the Big South standings for the first time since 2007.
Breaking New Ground at the NCAA Level On the strength of Sam Chelanga's national championship in the 10K and second-place finish in the 5K, Liberty tied Kentucky for 13th place at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore. It was the highest finish ever by a Big South team at either the NCAA Division I Indoor or Outdoor Track & Field Championships. News and Notes: -- Liberty also held the previous standard for the conference's best finish at the NCAA national meet, with the Lady Flames ending up in 15th place at both the 2002 NCAA Division I Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships. -- The highest team finish by the Liberty men's squad had been a tie for 22nd place at the 2007 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. -- Liberty's 18 team points in Eugene were the most ever scored by the Flames at the NCAA Division I Indoor or Outdoor Track & Field Championships. -- Liberty also shared 26th place in the final men's team standings at this year's NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Among the IC4A's Elite Liberty extended its string of impressive finishes at the IC4A meets, sharing third place at the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships (March 6-7, Boston, Mass.) and claiming runner-up honors at the IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 14-16, Princeton, N.J.). News and Notes: -- Liberty's indoor team placing equaled the second highest in program history. The Flames were the IC4A indoor runners-up in 2008 and also tied for third place in 1998. -- Liberty finished in the top two at the IC4A outdoor meet for the fourth year in a row. The Flames claimed back-to-back conference championships in 2007 and 2008, before ending up second in both 2009 and 2010.
Individual Accomplishments Chelanga's Championship Season Sam Chelanga excelled at the 10K distance during his redshirt junior season, shattering his own NCAA record in the event with a 27:08.39 on May 1 and later capturing the NCAA 10K national title on June 10. He also finished as the NCAA 5K runner-up both indoors and outdoors this season. News and Notes: -- Chelanga's 27:08.39 clocking, achieved at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif., cut 20 seconds off of his own NCAA record. It is also 25 seconds faster than any other collegiate runner has ever completed a 10K. -- Chelanga still ranks No. 3 in the world for the 10K in 2010, as of June 15. -- Chelanga's 10K national championship race took place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., and made him the first NCAA Division I national champion in Liberty men's track & field history. -- Chelanga, who won the 10K by a wide margin of 18 seconds, is Liberty's first multiple national champion. He previously captured the NCAA cross country national title in November. -- Chelanga is now a nine-time All-American, with one full year of eligibility remaining. -- Chelanga only lost to a collegiate runner twice during the 2010 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons, falling to Northern Arizona's David McNeill by a combined 1.14 seconds in the NCAA indoor and outdoor 5K championship races.
Quite a Few Qualifiers Sam Chelanga was joined in Fayetteville, Ark., at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships by redshirt senior Jaime Watson, who ran the women's 800. Juniors Elliot Galeone (men's javelin), Evans Kigen (men's steeplechase) and Clarence Powell (men's triple jump) then accompanied Chelanga to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. News and Notes: -- Watson was Liberty's first female qualifier to the NCAA national meet since Carol Jefferson ran the 10K at the 2007 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. -- Liberty's four men's qualifiers to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships equaled the most NCAA men's participants in program history. Four Flames also competed at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1999, 2007, 2008 and 2009. -- This was the sixth straight year Liberty sent a men's distance runner to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the fourth straight year the Flames sent a men's thrower. -- Galeone was Liberty's first-ever men's javelin thrower and Powell was Liberty's first men's triple jumper to reach the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Hauling in the Hardware Liberty track & field athletes earned a significant amount of awards during the 2010 indoor and outdoor track & field campaigns. Here is a complete list of the Flames and Lady Flames' achievements. Liberty Track & Field Award Winners: Meghan Burggraf – Big South Women's Freshman of the Year (Outdoor) Sam Chelanga – Bowerman Watch List, USTFCCCA Division I Southeast Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year (Outdoor), Big South Athlete of the Week (Feb. 17, March 19 and May 5) Josh Edmonds – Big South Men's All-Academic Team (Indoor & Outdoor) Evans Kigen – Big South Men's Outstanding Track Performer (Outdoor) Ashley Osborne – Big South Athlete of the Week (May 5) Clarence Powell – Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer (Indoor & Outdoor), Big South Athlete of the Week (Dec. 9 and April 14) Kevin Reddington – Big South Men's Freshman of the Year (Indoor) Rebekah Ricksecker – ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team (Second Team), Big South Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Indoor & Outdoor), Big South Women's All-Academic Team (Indoor & Outdoor) Kolby Shepherd – Big South Athlete of the Week (Feb. 3) Brant Tolsma – Big South Men's and Women's Coach of the Year (Outdoor) Jaime Watson – Big South Women's Outstanding Track Performer (Indoor), Big South Athlete of the Week (Jan. 27, Feb. 3, Feb. 17, March 10, April 14 and April 28)
Racking Up Records The 2010 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons saw 14 different Liberty school records either set or improved, including six by redshirt senior Jaime Watson. The following is a summary of the Flames' new standards. Men's Indoor Track & Field Triple Jump – 50-6 – Clarence Powell (Jan. 22) Women's Indoor Track & Field 400 – 54.59 – Jaime Watson (Feb. 28) 500 – 1:13.98 – Jaime Watson (Jan. 30) 800 – 2:05.42 – Jaime Watson (March 6) 4 x 800 – 9:15.21 – Rebekah Ricksecker, Meghan Burggraf, Rod'Esther Castor, Jaime Watson (Jan. 22) Men's Outdoor Track & Field 10K – 27:08.39 – Sam Chelanga (May 1) Triple Jump – 52-1.25 – Clarence Powell (May 29) Javelin – 224-3 – Elliot Galeone (May 16) Women's Outdoor Track & Field 400 – 53.61 – Jaime Watson (April 17) 800 – 2:06.09 – Jaime Watson (May 1) 5K – 16:31.00 – Ashley Osborne (May 14) 10K – 34:00.60 – Ashley Osborne (May 1) 100 Hurdles – 13.65 – Olivia Charnuski (April 29) Hammer – 183-6 – Melinda Bendik (May 15)
Conference Champions Liberty won a total of 26 events at the Big South Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships and four disciplines at the IC4A Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past season. Here is a list of the Flames and Lady Flames' conference champions. Men's Big South Indoor Sam Chelanga – Mile & 3K (Liberty's 10th Big South 3K champion in 13 seasons) Clarence Powell – Triple Jump & High Jump Kolby Shepherd – Pole Vault (First three-time Big South indoor pole vault champion in conference history; led a 1-2-3-4 Liberty finish in the event, which also included Geren Woodbridge, Justin Savini and Cody Fridgen) Ryan Smith – Shot Put Geren Woodbridge - Heptathlon Distance Medley Relay Team (Will Reeves, Chris Herbst, Paul Arslain, Sam Chelanga) Men's Big South Outdoor Cody Fridgen – Pole Vault Elliot Galeone – Discus Evans Kigen – 5K & Steeplechase Clarence Powell – Long Jump Ryan Smith – Shot Put Men's IC4A Indoor Evans Kigen – 5K Clarence Powell – High Jump Men's IC4A Outdoor Sam Chelanga – 5K Evans Kigen – Steeplechase (Liberty's first IC4A steeplechase champion since 1998) Women's Big South Indoor Rebekah Ricksecker – Mile & 3K (Led a 1-2-3 Lady Flames sweep in the mile, which also included Jennifer Klugh and Hailey Neal) Jaime Watson – 400 & 800 (Only runner in Big South history to win both the 400 and 800 titles at the same conference meet) Women's Big South Outdoor Mia Aghaji – Triple Jump Meghan Burggraf – 800 (Paced Liberty's 1-2-3 sweep in the 800, where she was followed across the line by teammates Rebekah Ricksecker and Jaime Watson) Krystle Matthews – Heptathlon Hailey Neal – Steeplechase Ashley Osborne – 5K & 10K Rebekah Ricksecker – 1,500 (The first three-time 1,500-meter champion in Big South history; led Liberty's 1-2-3 sweep in the event, which also featured Hailey Neal and Jennifer Klugh) Jaime Watson – 400
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