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Liberty Track Trio Garners Academic Accolades

August 6, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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L-R): Pictured are Liberty's three USTFCCCA Division I Men's All-Academic Track & Field honorees--Kolby Shepherd, Clendon Henderson and Matt Parker.

L-R): Pictured are Liberty's three USTFCCCA Division I Men's All-Academic Track & Field honorees--Kolby Shepherd, Clendon Henderson and Matt Parker.

Liberty men's track & field athletes Clendon Henderson, Matt Parker and Kolby Shepherd have earned places on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Men's All-Academic Track & Field team, it was announced today.

Henderson (Sr., Meadow, Texas), Parker (Jr., Rome, N.Y.) and Shepherd (Fr., Dublin, Ga.) each made the team by posting a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher and qualifying for the NCAA East Regional Track & Field Championship.

Henderson's senior season with the Flames featured numerous academic recognitions, as a result of his 3.72 GPA in kinesiology. In addition to earning a spot on the USTFCCCA All-Academic team for the second straight season, he became the first Liberty men's track & field athlete ever to make the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team at the NCAA Division I level, doing so as a first-team honoree. The senior swept the Big South Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards at the conference indoor and outdoor championship meets and also received the inaugural Dr. Jerry Falwell Leadership Award.

Not only was Henderson an Academic All-American, but he became the first Liberty thrower ever to earn All-America status. The Texas native placed third in the discus at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championship. His effort highlighted a stellar senior campaign, which also included first-place finishes at the Texas Relays, Drake Relays and Big South Championship, as well as a 22nd-place effort at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Henderson additionally qualified for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championship, coming in 14th in the shot put final. He qualified for the meet by throwing the shot a Liberty and Big South-record 61-10.5. The standard was one of three school and conference standards Henderson shattered as a senior. He also took down the outdoor shot put (61-3) and discus (204-3) marks.

Henderson will remain at Liberty after graduation, as he was recently hired as assistant track & field coach for the Flames.

Parker maintains a 3.32 GPA in business and has made a pair of Big South Presidential Honor Roll appearances while at Liberty. His junior year featured stellar performances at conference meets, as he helped the Flames sweep the Big South indoor and outdoor track & field team titles, in addition to the IC4A outdoor championship.

The Empire State native was tabbed Men's Outstanding Field Performer at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championship, where he totaled a meet-high 28 points. He won the long jump and high jump titles at the meet and came in second in the 60-meter hurdles. Outdoors, Parker came in second in a pair of events—the 110-meter hurdles and long jump. Finally, his second-place high jump finish in a driving rainstorm at the IC4A Outdoor Championship helped seal Liberty's second consecutive team title.

Parker sailed over the 7-0 plateau in the high jump for the first time, during the 2008 indoor season. His 7-0.25 clearance at the Virginia Tech Invitational was the highest by a Liberty athlete since 1988. During the 2008 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons, he also became the No. 2 all-time performer in program history in both the 60-meter hurdles (8.20 seconds) and the 110-meter hurdles (14.26).

Shepherd posted a 3.39 GPA as a freshman biblical studies major. His rookie campaign saw the 14-0 high school pole vaulter make rapid improvement and become the latest in a series of strong Liberty vaulters.

Shepherd twice cleared 16-6.75 during the outdoor season, becoming the first Liberty men's pole vaulter to qualify for the NCAA East Regional Championship. The freshman, who opened the outdoor season with five consecutive first-place finishes in the pole vault, swept the Big South indoor and outdoor pole vault crowns.

Shepherd was honored as ECAC Men's Field Athlete of the Week on Feb. 28, shortly before placing fifth in the pole vault at the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championship. He was the top freshman finisher at the meet. He later closed out his freshman season with an eighth-place effort at the USATF Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championship.