A dozen former Liberty Flames and Head Coach Brant Tolsma were voted to the 2010-19 Big South Conference Men's Outdoor Track & Field All-Decade Team presented by Hercules Tires, it was announced today.
The Flames' all-decade honorees include two sprinters/hurdlers (Ryan Davis and Stephen Racanelli), three mid-distance/distance runners (Sam Chelanga, Evans Kigen and Josh MacDonald), two jumpers (Clarence Powell and Kolby Shepherd), four throwers (Fred Fulton, Elliot Galeone, David Scouten and Ryan Smith) and one decathlete (Zach Davis). Tolsma was voted the team's head coach.
Throughout the month of June, the Big South will be recognizing each sport's top student-athletes and coaches from the recently completed decade. Liberty wrapped up its 27-year Big South Conference membership on June 30, 2018, departing for the ASUN Conference.
The Flames excelled during their final years of Big South competition, earning seven Sasser Cups and 62 Big South team championships between 2010-18.
A 15-person committee of Big South Conference administrators served as the official voting panel to determine the All-Decade Team, with fan voting comprising 20 percent of the overall total. The 2010-19 Men's Outdoor Track & Field All-Decade Team features eight sprinters/hurdlers, eight distance/mid-distance runners, eight jumpers, eight throwers, two decathletes and one head coach. In case of ties, additional honorees have been added.
A native of Deerfield Beach, Fla., Ryan Davis is one of only two three-time men's 400 hurdles champions in Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships history. He took top honors in 2014, 2015 (then meet-record 51.23) and 2017, while placing second in 2016. Davis was also a two-time All-Big South performer in the 110 hurdles, placing second in 2017 and third in 2015.
Davis' classmate Racanelli shone brightly at his final Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2017. The Lynchburg, Va., native was voted Big South Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer after racing to victory in the 200, 400 and 4 x 400 relay. Racanelli won three consecutive Big South outdoor men's 400 titles, also prevailing in 2015 and 2016.
Chelanga swept the men's 1,500 and 5K titles at his lone Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships appearance in 2009. The native of Nairobi, Kenya collected five outdoor All-America certificates, headlined by a pair of NCAA Division I national championships (2010 10K and 2011 5K). He also set the all-time collegiate record in the men's 10K (27:08.39) in 2010, which still stands today.
Three times (2008, 2010 and 2011), Kigen successfully won both the men's steeplechase and 5K at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The native of Eldoret, Kenya was named 2010 Big South Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer. Kigen qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the steeplechase in both 2008 and 2010.
MacDonald was tabbed Big South Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer as a senior in 2014 after winning the men's steeplechase, placing second in the 10K and taking fourth in the 5K. The native of San Leandro, Calif., also earned a trio of All-Big South honors in 2013 (5K runner-up, steeplechase third place and 10K third place).
Powell won the men's long jump while placing second in the triple jump and third in the high jump at the 2010 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, garnering Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer accolades. Two years earlier, the Marianna, Fla., native was named the Big South Men's Freshman of the Year after claiming victory in the triple jump.
Liberty boasts a proud history in the pole vault, but Shepherd is the Flames' lone three-time pole vault champion in Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships history. The native of Dublin, Ga., stood atop the podium in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Shepherd went on to tie for fifth place in the event at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, earning All-America honors.
During his two seasons as a Flame, Fulton earned six outdoor All-Big South honors, headlined by a trio of event titles (2015 shot put, 2015 discus and 2016 discus). The Fredericksburg, Va., native was recognized as 2015 Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer after setting a meet record in the discus (184-7) and posting the No. 2 shot put mark (57-10.25) in meet history.
A White Hall, Md., native, Galeone took home the 2011 Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer trophy after sweeping the men's discus and javelin titles. Galeone added the 2010 discus championship among his seven career All-Big South honors. He was also a two-time NCAA national qualifier in the javelin (2010 and 2011).
Seven of Scouten's 13 career All-Big South medals came outdoors, headlined by his triumph in the 2014 outdoor discus competition. The Brooklyn, Mich., native was also a standout in the classroom. Scouten was the 2015 Big South Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-American.
A native of Winder, Ga., Smith became the first athlete in Big South history to sweep the conference indoor and outdoor titles in an event (men's shot put) for four consecutive years (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). He was voted Big South Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer in both 2012 (when he added the discus title) and 2013 (when he heaved the shot put a meet-record 60-6). Smith was an NCAA Division I national qualifier in the shot put as a senior in 2013.
Zach Davis stood on the Big South decathlon podium during all four years of his career, finishing third in 2014, second in 2015 (with a personal-best score of 7,171) and first in both 2016 and 2017. The native of Sparta, N.J., also earned a trio of outdoor All-Big South medals in the men's high jump, headlined by a runner-up effort as a freshman in 2014.
Tolsma coached the Liberty men's squad to victory at all nine Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships it competed in during the decade (2010 through 2018), wrapping up a streak of 12 straight titles for the Flames. Tolsma, who was voted Big South Men's Coach of the Year on all nine occasions, also oversaw Liberty's best-ever finish at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (tie for 12th place in 2011).
The Big South Conference previously announced additional all-decade teams as part of its 30th anniversary celebration during the 2013-14 academic year. The following Flames were included on those squads.
1994-99 Men's Outdoor Track & Field All-Decade Team Sprints/Hurdles – Ken Howell, Pete McFadden, Mike Reed, Marlon Tanner Mid-Distance/Distance – Dan Bentley, Stephen Githuka, Brian Kiprono, Chuck Lyngaas Jumps – Greg Benhase, Kevin Coley, Mike Connell Throws – Pete Brown, James Johnson, Mike Lucas, Ryan Werner Decathlon – Ryan Werner Head Coach – Brant Tolsma
2000-09 Men's Outdoor Track & Field All-Decade Team Sprints/Hurdles – Micah Brinkley, Jeremy Wagner Mid-Distance/Distance – Josh McDougal Jumps – Nick Anderson, Anthony Bryant, Kevin Octave, Chad Wilson Throws – Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson Decathlon – Josh Jones, Daniel Newell Head Coach – Brant Tolsma
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