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Hart, Henderson, Kigen Reach National Meet

May 31, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Evans Kigen will make his first trip to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, after finishing second in the steeplechase on Saturday.

Evans Kigen will make his first trip to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, after finishing second in the steeplechase on Saturday.

NCAA East Regional Championship Day 2 Blog

A trio of Liberty men's track and field athletes—Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson and Evans Kigen—qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, as a result of their performances on Saturday at the NCAA East Regional Track & Field Championships in Tallahassee, Fla. The Flames ended up seventh as a team, representing their highest-ever regional finish.

Liberty scored all 22 of its points on Saturday, garnering a seventh-place finish and moving up one place from the 2007 regional meet. Host and two-time defending national champion Florida State won with 88.5 points, outdistancing in-state rival Florida, which tallied 68 markers.

The Flames were one of six Big South men's teams to finish in the top 32 at the meet. Charleston Southern was the next-highest conference finisher, tying for 13th place with 15 tallies.

Hart (Sr., Wyomissing, Pa.) recovered from a slow start in the men's hammer competition, claiming third place with his best throw of the morning, 214-2, on his sixth and final attempt. The senior will compete in the hammer throw at the NCAA national meet for the second straight year, after earning a runner-up finish at the 2007 regional meet. He will be joined at the national meet in Des Moines, Iowa, by fellow Big South competitor Timothy Morse of Radford, the surprise event winner with a personal-best 217-8 toss.

Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas) closed out the Flames' day in style, nabbing second place in the men's discus. The senior moved up one place from the 2007 regional meet with his 195-6 opening effort. He posted a consistent series, as the senior had three throws stretch the tape past 190 feet. Florida's Wes Stockbarger repeated as regional champion, defeating Henderson by exactly one foot. Henderson will return to the national meet, after finishing 10th in the discus last season.

Kigen (So., Eldoret, Kenya) ran a gutsy 3,000-meter steeplechase race in the oppressive Florida heat. He went to the front of the pack early, trailing only Florida State's Luke Gunn, the NCAA national leader. Kigen went on to claim a clear second place, cutting more than three seconds off the Liberty record, set by Chris McGregor in 1998, with his 8:49.39 clocking. As a result, the transfer from New York Institute of Technology will make his first appearance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Kigen was one of two Flames to set school records on Saturday. Freshman Clarence Powell (Marianna, Fla.), competing near his hometown, went 51-9 on his third triple jump attempt. The distance, which placed the freshman ninth overall in the competition, eclipsed both his own Liberty standard and the eight-year-old Big South Conference record. With the jump, a 15-inch improvement over his previous best, Powell enters the at-large pool for the NCAA national meet.

Next up for the Flames will be the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, scheduled for June 11-14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Liberty will send a trio of seniors to the Hawkeye State for the meet, including Hart in the hammer, Henderson in the discus and Brandon Hoskins (Garden City, Texas) in the decathlon. They will be joined by sophomore Kigen in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Liberty's national meet participant count could reach five if Powell garners an at-large bid in the men's triple jump. He will find out his status by 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.