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

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