Kolby Shepherd was voted the 2012 Big South Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
For the eighth consecutive year, a Liberty athlete has been honored as the Big South Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year. This year's honoree is redshirt senior pole vaulter Kolby Shepherd, as voted upon by the league's head track & field coaches at their annual June meeting. Prior to Shepherd's award, Josh McDougal was named Big South Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year four straight times (2005-08) and Sam Chelanga claimed the honor three times in a row (2009-11). Liberty student-athletes have now won this award 12 times in the last 15 years. Charleston Southern senior sprinter Gabrielle Houston was tabbed Big South Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year, with Liberty redshirt senior Melinda Bendik receiving honorable mention. Shepherd closed out his season in style, tying for fifth place in the men's pole vault final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 8. As a result, he was recognized by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches of America (USTFCCCA) as a first team All-American. Shepherd is the first Liberty men's pole vaulter ever to become an NCAA Division I All-American. Shepherd's 17-8.5 clearance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships broke the school record and tied the Big South all-time standard. Coastal Carolina's Mark Johnson pole vaulted 17-8.5 during the 2006 outdoor season and now shares the conference record with Shepherd. Shepherd, a Dublin, Ga. native, won the Big South indoor and outdoor men's pole vault titles in 2012, breaking his own meet record with a 16-5.25 clearance at the indoor championship. He graduates as a seven-time Big South pole vault champion, including four indoor titles and a trio of outdoor crowns. Shepherd's year also featured third-place finishes at both the IC4A indoor and outdoor meets. In total, he went over the 17-foot barrier at four different meets in 2012. Shepherd's 17-1 clearance at the Hokie Invitational on Jan. 21 ranks him No. 3 on Liberty's all-time indoor pole vault performance list. Kolby Shepherd's 2011-12 Performances Pole Vault 16-2.75 (4.95m) – Liberty Kickoff (12/3/11), 3rd place 15-1 (4.60m) – Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge (1/18/12), 1st place 17-1 (5.21m) – Hokie Invitational (1/21/12), 3rd place 16-5.25 (5.01m) – Big South Indoor (2/24/12), 1st place 17-0.75 (5.20m) – IC4A Indoor (3/3/12), 3rd place 14-7.25 (4.45m) – Coastal Carolina Invitational (3/10/12), 1st place 16-0.75 (4.90m) – Shamrock Invitational (3/17/12), 3rd place ("A" section) 16-6.75 (5.05m) – Texas Relays (3/31/12), 10th place ("A" section) 16-0.75 (4.90m) – Big South Outdoor (4/21/12), 1st place 15-7 (4.75m) – Highlander Invitational (4/28/12), 3rd place 16-0.5 (4.89m) – Winthrop Twilight (5/6/12), 1st place 16-10 (5.13m) – IC4A Outdoor (5/12/12), 3rd place 17-3.5 (5.27m) – NCAA East Preliminary Round (5/26/12), T-10th place 17-8.5 (5.40m) – NCAA (6/8/12), T-5th place (School Record, 1st team All-American) Liberty's Big South Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year Honorees 1998 - Greg Benhase 1999 - Michael Decker 2000 - Michael Decker 2001 - Michael Decker 2005 - Josh McDougal 2006 - Josh McDougal 2007 - Josh McDougal 2008 - Josh McDougal 2009 - Sam Chelanga (shared with VMI's Donnie Cowart) 2010 - Sam Chelanga 2011 - Sam Chelanga 2012 - Kolby Shepherd
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