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Six Flames Ready for National Championships

June 23, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty assistant coach Clendon Henderson will throw the discus at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday at 9:40 p.m. Eastern.

Liberty assistant coach Clendon Henderson will throw the discus at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday at 9:40 p.m. Eastern.

USA meet live video streaming

USA meet live results

Canada meet live video streaming (Saturday afternoon only)

Canada meet live results

Six current and former Liberty track & field athletes will compete in various national championship meets this weekend. Clendon Henderson and Danielle McNaney will travel to Eugene, Ore., for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, while Ryan Bell and Ryan Smith will compete in the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the same location. Meanwhile, Olivia Charnuski and Charlene Hibbert are entered in the Canadian Track & Field Championships in Toronto, Ontario.

The USA senior and junior meets will return to Hayward Field, the site of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. North of the border, John L. Davenport Track at Varsity Centre will play host to the 2009 Canadian Track & Field Championships. Both nations' senior meets will determine qualifiers to the IAAF World Championships, scheduled for Aug. 15-23 in Berlin, Germany. The USA junior championship will select the squad for the July 31-Aug. 2 Pan American Junior Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

How to Follow the Flames
ESPN and NBC will team up to televise six hours of live coverage during the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. ESPN is scheduled to broadcast Friday's action from 8-10 p.m. and Saturday's events from 7:30-9:30 p.m. NBC will take over on the meet's final day, with a 4-6 p.m. Sunday broadcast planned.

During the times when ESPN and NBC are not broadcasting the meet, USA Track & Field (USATF) and are teaming up for a live video stream. Click here for more information on this recently added feature.

Finally, the USATF website will provide updated results and start lists throughout the meet. Click here for the schedule/results page.

As for the Canadian Track & Field Championships, CBC is scheduled for a live broadcast on Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m., a time slot which includes the women's 100-meter hurdles final. The CBC telecast will also be streamed on the website. Click here to link to the CBC website for more information.

Live stats and results will also be available for the Canadian Track & Field Championships. Click here for the link to this feature.

Liberty Competition Schedule (All Times Listed in Eastern)
Friday, June 26

5:45 p.m. – Canada women's 100-meter hurdles semifinals (Olivia Charnuski)
5:45 p.m. – USA junior men's shot put final (Ryan Smith)
9:40 p.m. – USA men's discus final (Clendon Henderson)
Live TV Coverage of USA Meet: 8-10 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday, June 27
2 p.m. – USA heptathlon 100-meter hurdles (Danielle McNaney)
3 p.m. – USA heptathlon high jump (Danielle McNaney)
4:50 p.m. – Canada women's 100-meter hurdles final (Olivia Charnuski)
5 p.m. – USA heptathlon shot put (Danielle McNaney)
6 p.m. – USA heptathlon 200-meter dash (Danielle McNaney)
Live TV Coverage of Canada Meet: 4:30-6 p.m. on CBC
Live TV Coverage of USA Meet: 7:30-9:30 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday, June 28
1 p.m. - Canada women's 200-meter dash semifinals (Charlene Hibbert)
2 p.m. – USA heptathlon long jump (Danielle McNaney)
3:05 p.m. – USA heptathlon javelin (Danielle McNaney)
3:25 p.m. - Canada women's 200-meter dash final (Charlene Hibbert) 
5 p.m. – USA heptathlon 800-meter run (Danielle McNaney)
6:10 p.m. – USA junior men's javelin final (Ryan Bell)
Live TV Coverage of USA Meet: 4-6 p.m. on NBC

Competitor Profiles

Ryan Bell (New Wilmington, Pa.)
Liberty Status: Freshman
Event: USA junior men's javelin
Competition Schedule: Sunday, 6:10 p.m.
Outlook: Bell came to Liberty as a highly-touted recruit, after ranking No. 4 nationally with a 220-7 javelin toss as a senior at Wilmington Area High School. He made an immediate impact with the Flames, winning the javelin at his first collegiate event, the Coastal Carolina/Asics Invitational on March 13. Bell's 212-11 heave qualified him for the NCAA Division I East Regional Track & Field Championships.

Bell's most impressive performance of the season came at the Big South Championship, April 16 in Radford, Va. That day, the Keystone State native won the conference javelin title with a school-record throw of 217-10. His toss eclipsed the Liberty standard of Shad Bolen, which had stood for 20 years.

Three-time Pennsylvania high school state javelin champion Justin Shirk and Oregon high school state titlist Sam Crouser, who have both eclipsed the 230-foot plateau this spring, are two of the event favorites. NCAA Division I national meet qualifier Kyle Smith of Southern Miss is the highest-finishing returnee from the 2008 event, where Smith placed third.

Olivia Charnuski (Elmira, Ontario)
Liberty Status: Freshman
Event: Canada women's 100-meter hurdles
Competition Schedule: Friday, 5:45 p.m. (semifinal); Saturday, 4:50 p.m. (final)
Outlook: Charnuski established herself as one of the top young hurdlers in the Big South Conference as a freshman, placing third in the 100-meter hurdles final at the conference meet. One month later, she was a semifinalist at the ECAC meet, after clocking a Liberty freshman-record time of 14.18 seconds in the first round.

Charnuski will see a lot of familiar faces this weekend in Toronto. Last summer, she finished ninth in the 100 hurdles at the Canada Olympic Trials, just one place away from making the final.

The women's 100-meter hurdles is one of Canada's strongest events on the world stage. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep was the bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics. Meanwhile, Perdita Felicien captured the gold medal at the 2003 World Championships and came home with the silver medal in 2007.

Clendon Henderson (Meadow, Texas)
Liberty Status: Assistant Coach, Class of 2008
Event: USA men's discus
Competition Schedule: Friday, 9:40 p.m.
Outlook: Henderson just completed his first year as an assistant coach on the Liberty track & field staff. He helped coach freshman John Talbert to a berth in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and has also found a bit of time to compete himself. On April 4, Henderson defeated Talbert and eclipsed his own facility record with a 196-1 effort at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. Henderson also won the discus at the Chick-fil-A UNC Elite Meet on May 5 in Chapel Hill, N.C., reaching a season-best 196-2.

Henderson finished 22nd in the discus at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, wrapping up a stellar senior season for the Flames. He threw the discus 204-3 to set new Liberty and Big South records and also placed third at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Ian Waltz, the 2008 Olympic Trials discus champion, and Casey Malone, who placed third a year ago, are the top returnees from last year's national meet.

Charlene Hibbert (Mississauga, Ontario)
Liberty Status: Class of 2008
Event: Canada women's 200-meter dash
Competition Schedule: Sunday, 1 p.m. (semifinal); Sunday, 3:25 p.m. (final)
Outlook: Hibbert graduated in 2008 as one of the best sprinters and relay runners in program history. She was a part of four school record-setting relay units for the Lady Flames, including the indoor 4 x 400 (3:47.16) and outdoor 4 x 100 (45.95), 4 x 200 (1:37.99) and 4 x 400 (3:41.00) squads. She also ranks No. 4 on Liberty's all-time list in the outdoor 200-meter dash, at 24.27 seconds.

Hibbert, who also competed in the long jump and triple jump at Liberty, will focus on the 200 at the Canada national meet. The event favorite is Adrienne Power, the defending national champion and 2008 Olympian.

Danielle McNaney (Gardner, Kan.)
Liberty Status: Class of 2005
Event: USA heptathlon
Competition Schedule: Saturday, 2 p.m. (Day One); Sunday, 2 p.m. (Day Two)
Outlook: McNaney is a veteran of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where she is entered in the heptathlon for the fifth consecutive year. Her best effort came at the 2006 national meet, which saw McNaney score a career-high 5,673 points and place sixth. Last year, McNaney tallied 5,593 points for a 12th-place showing in her first-ever Olympic Trials appearance.

McNaney, a three-time NCAA national qualifier in the heptathlon at Liberty, has battled injuries recently. However, she appeared to be in fine form June 6-7, when the Kansas native finished second in the heptathlon at the Texas Greatest Athlete meet in Dallas, posting a score of 5,576 points.

Olympic Trials champion Hyleas Fountain and third-place finisher Diana Pickler are the top two entrants in the field for this weekend's meet. Fountain went on to earn the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, becoming the only U.S. heptathlete other than Jackie Joyner-Kersee ever to win a medal at the Olympics.

Ryan Smith (Winder, Ga.)
Liberty Status: Freshman (redshirted in 2008-09)
Event: USA junior men's shot put
Competition Schedule: Friday, 5:45 p.m.
Outlook: Smith was redshirted during his first year at Liberty, because the Georgia native does not turn 19 until late September. He competed in a number of meets unattached, including the April 30 Liberty Twilight Qualifier, when Smith won the shot put with a personal-best 55-10.5 distance. If Smith had been competing for Liberty at the meet, his throw would have been a NCAA regional qualifier and made him the No. 3 shot putter in program history.

Smith, who threw the 16-lb. shot put this season at Liberty, will have a lighter implement to work with in Eugene. At the junior level, a six-kilogram (13.2 lb.) shot put is used.

A trio of 2009 high school state shot put champions is listed among the junior shot put favorites. UCLA-bound Mason Finley, who owns the national high school discus record, captured the Colorado state crown. Stephen Saenz, heading for Auburn, was the Texas state titlist. Meanwhile, Daniel Block, the USA junior runner-up last season, repeated as Illinois' state shot put winner.