Josh McDougal, pictured here winning the 2007 NCAA national cross country title, will rejoin his alma mater as an assistant cross country/track & field coach this year. (Photo courtesy AP/Wide World Photos)
Liberty cross country and track & field will welcome a familiar face back to the program this season, as head coach Brant Tolsma announced the hiring of Josh McDougal as an assistant cross country/track & field coach. McDougal, the 2007 NCAA National Cross Country Champion and a 14-time All-American, will be working with the Flames' distance runners for the fourth consecutive year, but the first time in a full-time role. He served as a graduate assistant during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years, before aiding the 2010 Liberty men's and women's cross country squads as a volunteer assistant coach. "We are very excited to have Josh return to Liberty, where he had so many great experiences as a student-athlete," stated Tolsma. "We believe that Josh, who himself put Liberty cross country on the map, will be able to help us develop cross country teams that will regularly be able to compete at the NCAA national championship. "Josh is completely supportive of our philosophy, because that's why he chose Liberty for his collegiate athletic career." McDougal helped oversee the successful career of Sam Chelanga, who won four NCAA national championships and set the all-time collegiate 10K record at 27:08.39. Additionally, the Liberty men's cross country team won all three Big South titles during McDougal's time as a graduate and volunteer assistant, while the Lady Flames captured two conference crowns. During his own career, McDougal earned four All-America honors in cross country, seven in indoor track & field and three in outdoor track & field. When he graduated, he owned Liberty's 8K and 10K cross country records, as well as every indoor and outdoor track & field school record from 1,500 meters through 10,000 meters. His outdoor 5,000-meter personal best (13:20.43) made him the sixth-fastest collegiate performer of all-time, at the time. The pinnacle achievement of the Peru, N.Y., native's college career came on Nov. 19, 2007, when he outkicked Oregon's Galen Rupp to capture the NCAA Division I National Cross Country title by one second. McDougal became the first men's athlete in Liberty history to capture an NCAA Division I national championship and recorded his 23rd victory in 27 collegiate cross country races. McDougal also won numerous Big South Conference honors during his career, including a trio of Big South Howard Bagwell Male Athlete of the Year distinctions and four Big South Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year awards. A 17-time Big South individual champion, McDougal helped the Flames win 10 Big South team championships during his four years with the Flames. McDougal enjoyed success at the IC4A meet as well, capturing seven individual event titles. At the 2007 IC4A Outdoor Track & Field Championships, McDougal swept the men's 1,500, 5K and 10K championships for the first time in the meet's 132-year history. His efforts enabled the Flames to capture the IC4A team championship for the first time since 1996. McDougal graduated with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Liberty in 2008. He is currently working toward a master's degree in human services. McDougal will have less than a month to work with the Liberty distance runners before the start of the 2011 cross country campaign. The Flames and Lady Flames will travel to Blacksburg, Va., on Sept. 2 for the season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.
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