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Hart, Jefferson And Newby Set School Records At Outdoor Track Season Opener

March 10, 2007  Conway, S.C.  RSS
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Piper Newby smashed her own school 3,000-meter steeplechase record and nearly qualified for the NCAA East Regional meet in the process.

Piper Newby smashed her own school 3,000-meter steeplechase record and nearly qualified for the NCAA East Regional meet in the process.

Liberty juniors Jon Hart, Carol Jefferson and Piper Newby opened the 2007 outdoor track and field season with a bang, as each set a school record during the Coastal Carolina Invitational, Friday and Saturday. The trio was among 10 Flame event champions. 

Just six days removed from a record-setting 5,000-meter effort at the ECAC Indoor Championships, Jefferson (Schwenksville, Pa.) raced to a 35:22.82 clocking Friday afternoon in her season debut at 10,000 meters. Her time cut 55 seconds from her own school record, set last May at the ECAC Outdoor Championships. Jefferson was forced to run by herself out front, as the race runner-up finished 4:39 back. 

Jefferson's effort was just one component of a solid weekend by the Lady Flame distance runners. Ashley Osborne (So., Bristol, Va.) captured the 5,000-meter title in a time of 18:19.09 and Newby (Jr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) eclipsed her own program record by 20 seconds while winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:50.31. Like Jefferson, Newby was alone in front of the pack, breaking the tape 47 seconds ahead of second place. The junior fell just .06 seconds shy of qualifying for the NCAA East Regional meet. 

The sprints and hurdles were additional areas of strength for the Liberty women's squad over the weekend, primarily due to the work of Andrea Beckles (So., Lynchburg, Va.) and Arlene Zelinskas (Sr., Dayton, Ohio). Beckles won the 100-meter dash in 12.29 and took third in the 200 with a 25.29 effort. Meanwhile, Zelinskas was the 100-meter hurdle champion in a time of 14.13 and came in second with a 5-7 high jump. 

On the men's side, juniors Hart (Wyomissing, Pa.) and Clendon Henderson (Meadow, Texas) stole the show in the throws. Hart's aforementioned school record came in his specialty, the hammer. He won the event with a school-record heave of 201-6, edging Radford's Jeremiah Spence by three inches. Mark Winyard owned the previous mark, 197-0, reaching the distance in 1986. Hart also qualified for the regional meet. 

Henderson won both the shot put (53-7) and the discus (176-11), moving up to second place on Liberty's all-time performer list in the latter and advancing to the regional contest in the discipline. Hart followed closely behind his classmate in the shot put, placing second with a 52-9.25. 

Tim O'Donnell (So., Hurst, Texas) was victorious in the 400-meter hurdles, ending up with a time of 53.74. Matt Parker (So., Rome, N.Y.) was Liberty's final first-place finisher on the day, grabbing the high jump title with a 6-6.75 clearance. 

The Flames and Lady Flames, coached by Brant Tolsma, will return to Coastal Carolina this Friday and Saturday for the Shamrock Invitational.