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Four Flames Bound for Fayetteville

June 7, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga is considered one of the prerace favorites in the men's 10K final, scheduled to begin Thursday at 10:45 p.m. Eastern.

Sam Chelanga is considered one of the prerace favorites in the men's 10K final, scheduled to begin Thursday at 10:45 p.m. Eastern.

Complete NCAA Meet Notes (PDF format)

June 10 live video streaming

June 11 live video streaming

June 12 live video streaming

June 13 live video streaming

Live results

Official meet website

The Meet

Four members of the Big South Conference champion Liberty men's track & field team have qualified to compete in the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Sam Chelanga (10,000 meters), Daniel Newell (decathlon), Matt Parker (high jump) and John Talbert (discus) will participate in the meet at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark., June 10-13.

Following the Flames
Liberty fans unable to make the trip to Fayetteville will have several ways to keep up with the performances of Sam Chelanga, Daniel Newell, Matt Parker and John Talbert.

CBS College Sports will televise Friday night's action, between 7-10 p.m. Eastern. CBS will take over the broadcast Saturday afternoon, providing live coverage from 1-3 p.m. Eastern.

The remainder of the meet will be video streamed free of charge. The video streaming links for each day may be found at the top of this release and on the Liberty track & field schedule/results page.

Live results will be provided by FlashResults.com throughout all four days of competition. A link may be found at the top of this page, as well as on the Liberty track & field schedule/results page.

Last but not least, LibertyFlames.com will be on hand at the NCAA meet for the second straight year, providing live blog coverage and frequent updates of the Flames' progress.

Looking Back at Last Year
A quartet of Liberty Flames competed in the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, contested June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa. Highlighting the team's performance was a third-place finish by senior Clendon Henderson in the men's discus final. Henderson became Liberty's first-ever All-American in a throwing event. Sophomore Evans Kigen also finished 10th in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase final, clocking a Liberty and Big South-record time of 8:43.77.

Liberty Competition Schedule (All times listed are Eastern and subject to change)
June 10
12:30 p.m. - Decathlon Day One (Daniel Newell)
9 p.m. - Men's High Jump Qualifying (Matt Parker)

June 11
2 p.m. - Men's Discus Qualifying (John Talbert)
3:30 p.m. - Decathlon Day Two (Daniel Newell)
10:45 p.m. - Men's 10,000 Final (Sam Chelanga)

June 12
8 p.m. - Men's High Jump Final (Matt Parker)

June 13
11 a.m. - Men's Discus Final (John Talbert)

Fond Memories of Fayetteville
The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships are being held in Fayetteville, Ark., for the first time this week. However, Arkansas has hosted many editions of the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Some of Liberty's best track & field moments have come in Fayetteville.

Heather (Sagan) Zealand, now an assistant coach on the Liberty track & field staff, became Liberty's first-ever NCAA Division I national champion in Fayetteville. She won the mile at the 2002 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, in a time of 4:38.52.

Josh McDougal, who graduated in 2008 as a 14-time All-American, earned half of his All-America certificates in Fayetteville. Currently serving as Liberty's graduate assistant coach, McDougal captured seven top-eight finishes in the 3K & 5K at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships during his career.

Sam Chelanga, scheduled to run the 10K Thursday evening, clocked his fastest 5K performance at the Randal Tyson Track Center. He finished third at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 13 in a Liberty and Big South Conference indoor-record time of 13:19.79. The effort was also superior to the previously-existing NCAA indoor 5K standard.

Fantastic Four
Liberty's four men's qualifiers for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships match the most in program history. Four Flames also competed at the NCAA outdoor meet in 1999, 2007 and 2008.

First-Timers
Three of the four Liberty athletes in action this week--Daniel Newell, Matt Parker and John Talbert--will be making their first visit to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The most recent Liberty competitor to become an All-American during her first NCAA outdoor appearance was Heather (Sagan) Zealand, the national runner-up at 1,500 meters in 2002. Josh Jones, an All-American in the decathlon at the 2000 NCAA outdoor championship meet, was the last Liberty men's athlete to do so.

Liberty in the National Rankings
The Liberty men's track & field team has made a trio of appearances in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 25 this spring, topping out at No. 22. The Flames entered the Top 25 at No. 22 on May 6, dropped to No. 23 on May 13 and then returned to the No. 22 position on May 20.

Liberty's NCAA Team Finishes
In 2007, the Liberty men's squad tallied 13 points, tying for 22nd place at the NCAA outdoor championship meet. The finish was the Flames' highest ever at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum
Senior Matt Parker will be the first Liberty men's high jumper ever to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Meanwhile, fellow senior Daniel Newell will continue Liberty's proud tradition in the decathlon. He is the ninth different Flames decathlete to qualify for the NCAA meet in Liberty's 21 years as a Division I member. Seven Liberty decathletes have earned All-America honors.

Record-Setting Performance
Sam Chelanga enjoyed a special evening, April 24 at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley, Calif. He defeated five Olympians to win the men's 10K in a NCAA-record time of 27:28.48.

Chelanga's time shaved five seconds off the mark of 27:33.48, set in 2007 by Oregon's Galen Rupp. It also improved the Liberty and Big South Conference 10K standards by 59 seconds. Those records had previously belonged to 2008 Liberty graduate and 14-time All-American Josh McDougal.

Chelanga currently ranks No. 4 on the world 10K list in 2009, according to the IAAF website. The list is topped by Kenya's Josephat Muchiri Ndambiri, with a 26:57.36.

There's a First Time for Everything
Chelanga will be running the 10K for the first time at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, after focusing on the 5K at the 2007 NCAA outdoor meet.

The redshirt sophomore is a four-time All-American. However, he will be seeking his first All-America certificate at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Chelanga has picked up a pair of cross country All-America certificates and two indoor track All-America notations.

Chelanga's second-place finish in the 5K at the 2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships made him the first Liberty men's indoor or outdoor track & field athlete to become a national runner-up at the Division I level. Liberty has never won a NCAA Division I national championship in either men's indoor or outdoor track & field.

Is the Fourth Time the Charm?
Chelanga has only lost to one collegiate runner this year, including cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field. Oregon senior Galen Rupp is 3-0 versus Chelanga. Here's a look at Rupp and Chelanga's meetings in 2008-09.

NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships (11/24/08 - Terre Haute, Ind.)
Rupp - 1st place (29:03.2)
Chelanga - 2nd place (29:08.0)

Tyson Invitational 5K (2/13/09 - Fayetteville, Ark.)
Rupp - 2nd place (13:18.12)
Chelanga - 3rd place (13:19.79)

NCAA Divison I Indoor Track & Field Championships 5K (3/13/09 - College Station, Texas)
Rupp - 1st place (13:41.45)
Chelanga - 2nd place (13:44.57)

10K Athletes to Watch
Galen Rupp, Oregon Senior (28:28.68 entry time)
2008 NCAA Cross Country Champion, 2009 NCAA Indoor 3K & 5K Champion

Shawn Forrest, Arkansas Senior (27:52.10 entry time)
2008 NCAA Outdoor 10K Runner-up, Arkansas 10K record holder, 2009 SEC 5K Champ

Championship Performer
Daniel Newell has been a key contributor to four Big South outdoor team titles and a pair of IC4A outdoor team crowns during his time at Liberty. Below is a summary of his decathlon performances at each conference meet.

Big South - 3rd (2005), 2nd (2007), 1st (2008), 1st (2009)
IC4A - 7th (2005), 3rd (2007), 1st (2008), 1st (2009)

Academic All-District
Newell was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honoree. He graduated with a 3.65 GPA in English and is now pursuing a master's degree.

Decathletes to Watch
Ashton Eaton, Oregon Junior (8,091 entry mark)
2008 NCAA Decathlon Champion, 2009 NCAA Heptathlon Champion

Moritz Cleve, Kansas State Sophomore (8,004 entry mark)
2009 Big 12 Decathlon Champion, Fifth at 2009 NCAA Heptathlon, Germany native

Head-to-Head Success
Matt Parker's season-best clearance of 7-1 is tied for 16th highest among the field of high jumpers at the NCAA national meet. However, he has enjoyed success against a number of national qualifiers this season. Below is a list of NCAA national qualifiers Parker has defeated in head-to-head competition this spring.

Big South Championship (4/17/09): Coastal Carolina's Jacques Watson
IC4A Championship (5/17/09): Cornell's Garrett Huyler
NCAA East Region Championship (5/29/09): Florida State's Andrew Bachelor, South Florida's Errol Blackmon and Penn State's Ryan Fritz

Clutch Performer
Parker has been at his best during conference championship meets. Most recently, the Empire State native outdueled Rutgers' Adam Bergo to win the 2009 IC4A high jump crown at 7-1. Parker's effort helped the Flames hold off Rutgers for second place in the team standings by a single point, 56-55.

Last season, Parker was one of only two high jumpers to clear the opening height (6-8.25) during a driving rainstorm at the IC4A meet. Parker's third-attempt clearance earned eight key points for the Flames. At the end of the day, Liberty successfully defended its IC4A team championship by seven points over Virginia.

Parker scored a meet-high 28 points at the 2008 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, including victories in the high jump and long jump competitions. His efforts helped the Flames wrap up their 11th consecutive Big South indoor team crown. Individually, Parker was voted Men's Outstanding Field Performer.

High Jumpers to Watch
Scott Sellers, Kansas State Senior (7-4.5 entry mark)
2009 NCAA Indoor national champion, 2007 NCAA Outdoor national champion

Jerome Miller, Georgia Tech Senior (7-3.25 entry mark)
2009 NCAA East Regional champion, 2009 ACC champion

Liberty Freshmen at the NCAA Meet
John Talbert is only the fourth Liberty freshman to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, joining Danielle McNaney (2002 heptathlon), Brandon Hoskins (2005 decathlon) and Josh McDougal (2005 men's 5K). Talbert is aiming to become the Flames' first freshman All-American outdoors. Hoskins (2005 heptathlon) and McDougal (2005 3K) were both All-Americans as freshmen indoors.

One of Two
Talbert is one of only two true freshmen among the 26 men's discus competitors entered in the national meet, joining Michigan State's Lonnie Pugh. Oklahoma's Luke Bryant (like Talbert a Kansas native) and Nebraska's Tyler Hitchler are both redshirt freshmen.

Three in a Row
Talbert's appearance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships gives the Flames a discus thrower at the meet for the third consecutive season. Clendon Henderson, now serving as Talbert's throws coach at Liberty, placed 10th in 2007 and third a season ago. Henderson's 2008 performance in the discus made him Liberty's first NCAA Division I All-American in the throwing events.

Busy and Consistent
Talbert has kept busy during his freshman campaign, participating in 10 discus competitions. He has been one of the Flames' most consistent performers, recording eight top-three finishes and reaching at least 171-0 at every meet.

The Kansas native had a unique day on April 11. He opened up by placing third in the discus at the Lou Onesty/Milton G. Abramson Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. Talbert then traveled 60 miles south on Route 29, arriving back in town in time to win the discus at the Lynchburg Track & Field Classic.

Discus Throwers to Watch
Rashaud Scott, Kentucky Senior (216-2 entry mark)
2009 NCAA Mideast Regional champion, 2008 NCAA national champion

Yemi Ayeni, Virginia Senior (197-2 entry mark)
2009 NCAA East Regional champion, 2008 NCAA national runner-up