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Flames, Lady Flames Sweep Big South Titles

February 25, 2011  Clemson, S.C.  RSS
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The Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams celebrate their Big South team championships.

The Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams celebrate their Big South team championships.

Day 2 Blog

For the second straight year, the Liberty men's and women's squads swept the team titles at the 2011 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The meet wrapped up with a busy Friday of action inside the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex.

The Flames won five events on Friday, pulling away from runner-up VMI in the final men's team standings. Liberty claimed its unprecedented 14th consecutive Big South indoor team title with 198 points, putting the Flames 85 points ahead of the Keydets. Liberty has been victorious every time the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships have ever been contested.

Meanwhile, the Lady Flames and Coastal Carolina went back and forth, before Liberty came out on top for the second straight year. Liberty's ninth Big South indoor women's team crown came by a 179.5 to 159.5 margin over the Chanticleers.

Liberty also took home several individual awards. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Smith was voted Men's Outstanding Field Performer, after winning the shot put and finishing second in the weight throw. Junior Jennifer Klugh won two events and scored 28 points for the Lady Flames, earning the Women's Outstanding Track Performer award. Klugh was also included on the Big South All-Academic Team, while Josh Edmonds earned the same distinction on the men's side.

Men's Meet Recap
Smith, who became the Flames' fourth Men's Outstanding Field Performer at this meet in the last five years, reached 58-2.5 in the men's weight throw on Friday, taking second place.

Liberty was also quite successful in the men's triple jump, scoring 25 points in the event. Clarence Powell led the way at 50-1.75, becoming the first three-time men's triple jump champion in meet history. Anthony Bryant took second place at 49-3.5, Chris Johnson finished fourth at 47-5.75 and twin brother Aaron Johnson was seventh with a personal-best 47-0.25 leap. Aaron Johnson qualified for the IC4A meet and claimed the No. 10 spot in program history with his effort.

Staying in the field, another Flame became a three-time Big South champion on Friday. Geren Woodbridge came from behind to claim his third consecutive heptathlon title, thanks in large part to a 14-7.25 pole vault clearance. He scored 5,042 points, winning the event by 46 tallies.

Drew Edwards backed Woodbridge up with a seventh-place heptathlon finish, scoring a career-high 4,553 points. He moves up to the sixth spot on Liberty's all-time heptathlon list.

Sam Chelanga also won his third Big South title in a row, leading a 1-2 Flames finish in the mile with his 4:16.88 effort. It was Liberty's seventh consecutive conference championship in the men's mile.

Isaac Wendland raced up to a runner-up finish in the mile, clocking 4:18.57. He also placed third in the 800 final two hours later, qualifying for the IC4A championship with a 1:55.23 effort.

Liberty also had two first-time Big South champions on Friday, including Taylor Courtney in the 400-meter dash and Josh Edmonds in the 5K. Both runners made passes during the closing stages of their respective races.

Courtney overtook Charleston Southern's Dantwan Spreads on the final straightaway to win by 0.1 second, 48.62 to 48.72. Courtney's personal-best time ranks No. 9 in program history, just ahead of Jon DeBogory, Liberty's most recent Big South indoor men's 400-meter dash champion in 2003.

Meanwhile, Edmonds got the last laugh in a back-and-forth battle with High Point's Neal Darmody. Edmonds surged past the Panther on the 25th and final lap to win in the final Big South race of his career. His winning 5K time was a season-best 14:22.65. Freshman Josh MacDonald complemented Edmonds' performance with a fourth-place finish. He ran a season-best 15:04.37.

Edmonds' fellow senior Jacey Bailey scored nine points on Friday, placing fourth in the 200 final (22.34) and fifth in the 60 (7.02).

Women's Meet Recap
Led by Klugh, the Lady Flames' middle-distance and distance runners played a key role in the team's victory. Liberty won every women's event measuring 800 meters and longer, including the distance medley relay.

Klugh was actually defeated by teammate Dacia Bushman in the 5K, which was arguably the one event that swung the meet in Liberty's favor for good. Liberty outscored Coastal Carolina by a 20-3 count in the 25-lapper, after the Chanticleers had taken over the team lead for several events.

Bushman led from wire to wire, taking top honors in 17:22.39 for her first career Big South championship. Klugh took second place while running her third distance race of the meet, at 17:40.58. Finally, sophomore Khristina Kanagy shaved 20 seconds off of her personal best to run 18:03.23 for seventh place.

Earlier in the day, Klugh had raced to a decisive victory in the mile. She crossed the line in 4:59.44, more than five seconds ahead of runner-up Melanie Kulesz of UNC Asheville. Hailey Neal added a fourth-place finish, in 5:11.60.

Meghan Burggraf notched her first Big South indoor title, finishing first in the 800-meter final at 2:14.52. Freshman Amanda Wimbush, who entered the meet with a personal-best time of 2:24.97, placed fifth in 2:18.49. She is now No. 9 in program history for the event.

Rounding out the Lady Flames' running events, Olivia Charnuski finished as the Big South 60 hurdles runner-up for the second straight year. Her season-best 8.68 clocking put the Canadian just 0.02 seconds behind the winner, Big South Freshman of the Year Amber Church of Radford.

Not to be outdone by their track counterparts, the Lady Flames also excelled in the field on Friday.
Mia Aghaji won the triple jump title with an indoor personal-best 39-9.75 leap. She now ranks No. 2 in program history and became the Lady Flames' first Big South indoor triple jump winner since 2003. Teammate Alyssa Pegues, who had won the long jump on Thursday, placed third with a season-best 38-11.75 effort.

Sophomore Shelley Parker matched her career-best clearance, 11-9.75, to win the women's pole vault conference title for the first time. Three athletes were successful at 11-9.75, but Parker was the only one to get there without a miss. She is Liberty's first winner of this event since 2005.

Liberty scored 11 points in the women's weight throw, as all three of its competitors posted personal-best marks. Freshman Jocelyn Williams reached 53-11.25 on her final attempt, qualifying for the ECAC meet and falling just 2.25 inches shy of the school record. She placed third while teammate Melinda Bendik was fourth at 53-1.75. Rachel Barnes came in ninth with a 48-8.25 toss. Williams, Bendik and Barnes now rank No. 2, 3 and 6, respectively, in Liberty women's weight throw history.

Liberty will now send a sizable group of athletes to Boston for the men's IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships and the women's ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The men's meet will be held at Boston University Pavilion with the women's meet taking place across town at the Reggie Lewis Center. Both events will take place March 5-6.

Men's Team Standings
1) Liberty – 198

2) VMI – 113
3) Charleston Southern – 108.5
4) Radford – 69.5
5T) Winthrop - 56
5T) High Point - 56
7) Gardner-Webb – 49
8) UNC Asheville – 11

Women's Team Standings
1) Liberty – 179.5

2) Coastal Carolina – 159.5
3) UNC Asheville – 62
4) Charleston Southern - 55
5) Gardner-Webb – 52.5
6) Radford - 48
7) VMI - 47
8) High Point - 36
9) Winthrop – 23.5

Men's Outstanding Track Performer
Javon Young, Charleston Southern

Women's Outstanding Track Performer
Jennifer Klugh, Liberty

Men's Outstanding Field Performer
Ryan Smith, Liberty

Women's Outstanding Field Performer
Kierra Gabe, Coastal Carolina

Men's Freshman of the Year
Chris Dobbins, Radford

Women's Freshman of the Year
Amber Church, Radford

Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Christoph Hutschalik, Gardner-Webb

Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Carrie Long, Gardner-Webb

Men's All-Academic Team
Christoph Hutschalik, Gardner-Webb
Josh Edmonds, Liberty
Brett Olinger, Radford
Neal Darmody, High Point
Andrew King, Charleston Southern
Adam Freudenthal, Winthrop
Simon Haake, UNC Asheville

Women's All-Academic Team
Carrie Long, Gardner-Webb
Christina Fenske, High Point
Jennifer Klugh, Liberty
Jenna Moye, VMI
Sierrah Oates, Coastal Carolina
Tara Bowman, Winthrop
Adrienne Cuff, Charleston Southern
Rachel Carson, UNC Asheville
Alyssa Barrow, Radford

Men's Coach of the Year
Darrin Webb, VMI

Women's Coach of the Year
Jesse Norman, UNC Asheville