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Powell's Leap Highlights Liberty Kickoff

December 3, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Clarence Powell hit the NCAA provisional qualifying standard with a 7-0.25 high jump, Thursday at the Liberty Kickoff.

Clarence Powell hit the NCAA provisional qualifying standard with a 7-0.25 high jump, Thursday at the Liberty Kickoff.

Liberty athletes bookended Thursday's action at the Liberty Kickoff with event victories, approximately six hours apart. In between, Flames junior Clarence Powell provisionally qualified for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championship in the high jump, highlighting a busy day at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.

Geren Woodbridge (R-Jr., Allentown, Pa.) finished off a dominating performance in the men's heptathlon to start the day. Senior Chenoa Freeman (Lincoln, Del.) then punctuated Liberty's performance with a stirring, come-from-behind victory on the anchor leg of the women's 4 x 400 relay, the night's final race.

Powell (Marianna, Fla.), who won a pair of events on Thursday, got over a personal-best 7-0.25 to win the high jump and become Liberty's first provisional qualifier for the 2010 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, scheduled for March 12-13, in Fayetteville, Ark. His outstanding effort stood out in a meet which included 10 event victories, five IC4A qualifiers and two ECAC qualifiers for the Flames and Lady Flames.

Women's Meet Recap
Freeman was preceded on the victorious relay quartet by Melanie Sims (So., Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Christina Mitchell (So., Monroe, Va.) and Meghan Burggraf (Fr., Lynchburg, Va.). The team's winning time was 4:00.34, putting the Lady Flames two seconds ahead of runner-up Winston-Salem State.

It was appropriate that Liberty finished the meet with a triumph in the 4 x 400 relay, because the Lady Flames' greatest success came in the sprints and mid-distance events.

In addition to her stellar, sub-57 second anchor on the relay, Freeman won the 200 meter dash in 25.87 seconds and took a close second to teammate Jaime Watson (R-Sr., Ravenna, Mich.) in the 400. Freeman's 400-meter clocking was 56.64, qualifying her for the ECAC meet.

Watson won the Liberty Kickoff 400-meter dash for the third year in a row, also meeting the ECAC standard at 56.54.

Lynchburg native Burggraf made a successful collegiate debut, coming from behind to win the 800 in a time of 2:20.82.

Mitchell was another double winner on Thursday. Prior to her relay contributions, the 2009 Big South indoor high jump champion shared the high jump crown with High Point's Christina Fenske, after both athletes reached 5-5 without a single miss.

Sophomore Jennifer Klugh (So., Centerburg, Ohio) was the Lady Flames' final event champion, leading a 1-2 Liberty finish in the women's 5K with a 17:54.44 effort. Dacia Bushman (Jr., Castalia, Iowa) came in as the runner-up, at 18:19.13.

Sophomores Olivia Charnuski (Elmira, Ontario) and Alyssa Pegues (Warner Robins, Ga.) both kept busy. Charnuski's evening included second-place finishes in the 60 hurdles (9.03) and 200 (25.89) and a third-place showing in the 60-meter dash (7.90).

Pegues was a three-time runner-up, after running 7.79 in the 60-meter final, long jumping 16-11.5 and triple jumping 37-9.5.

Aided by an impressive high jump clearance at 5-4.25, junior Krystle Matthews (Chesapeake, Va.) racked up a personal-best pentathlon score of 3,310 for second place.

A pair of Liberty newcomers cracked the program top five lists during their first meet as Lady Flames. Melinda Bendik (Jr., Odessa, Texas) reached 50-1.75 in the weight throw, finishing as the meet runner-up and claiming the No. 2 spot in program history. Meanwhile, Shelley Parker's (Fr., Lynchburg, Va.) 10-11.75 pole vault earned fourth place both at the meet and on Liberty's all-time list.

Men's Meet Recap
While their female counterparts were enjoying a successful day on the track, the Liberty men's team found its best results in the field events.

Powell, who is now the seventh Liberty high jumper in the 7-foot club, tied Matt Parker as the No. 3 indoor high jump performer in program history. Earlier in the meet, Powell had triple jumped 48-10.75 to reach the IC4A standard.

Powell was also part of a Flames long jumping unit which claimed four of the top five spots. Leading the way was Anthony Bryant (R-So., Charlottesville, Va.), who won the event and qualified for the IC4A meet with a final-attempt leap of 23-5.5.

Kolby Shepherd (Jr., Dublin, Ga.) made sure Liberty notched IC4A qualifiers in all four men's jumping events on Thursday. He got over the bar at 15-9 for sixth place in a deep pole vault field.

Woodbridge also pole vaulted well, during his sixth of seven heptathlon disciplines. His 14-11 clearance helped the Keystone State native shatter his previous personal best by more than 300 points and win the heptathlon by 645 markers. Woodbridge's final score of 5,089 makes him the fourth Flame ever to score 5,000 points and punches his ticket to the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championship for the first time.

Not to be completely overshadowed by Woodbridge's performance, teammate Drew Edwards (So., Anchorage, Alaska) added 272 points to his personal best, scoring 4,444 points for second place in the heptathlon.

In the running events, the prevalent theme was Liberty underclassmen notching top-three finishes. Freshman Andre Washington (Unionville, Va.) ended up third in both the 60-meter hurdles (8.51) and 200-meter dash (22.98). Classmates Paul Arslain (Dover, Pa.) and Roderick Spruel (Fredericksburg, Va.) each notched a third-place finish in their collegiate debut. Arslain ran the 800 in 1:57.86, while Spruel sped to a 6.99 clocking in the 60-meter dash.

Flames sophomore Joel Terry (Union Springs, N.Y.) added a third-place effort in the men's mile, finishing the eight-lap event in 4:30.58.

Liberty will now take an extended break from competition, before resuming its season Jan. 22-23, at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.