Liberty redshirt senior Kolby Shepherd punctuated his collegiate career in impressive fashion Friday afternoon at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium. Shepherd tied for fifth place in the men's pole vault final, while setting a school record of 17-8.5.
The Georgia native was solid from start to finish as he became Liberty's first-ever NCAA Division I men's pole vault All-American. He cleared each of his first four heights on the opening attempt with room to spare, progressing from 16-4.75 to 16-10.75 to a then season-best 17-4.5 to a school-record 17-8.5.
"It was unreal to be able to get all of that on first attempts," stated Shepherd. "Words can't express how thankful I am and how I know that God deserves all the glory. There's no way I could have done it without him."
One of only nine pole vaulters to successfully clear 17-8.5 on Friday, Shepherd improved Liberty's school record by two inches. Shepherd and Todd Pettyjohn shared the previous standard of 17-6.5.
Additionally, Shepherd tied the all-time Big South Conference men's pole vault record. Mark Johnson of Coastal Carolina cleared 17-8.5 during the 2006 outdoor season.
"Today, everything just clicked," Shepherd continued. "Everything worked and it was really cool."
Shepherd then took three unsuccessful attempts at 18-0.5, the Olympic Trials "B" standard, before bowing out of the competition. He finished up in a tie for fifth place with Air Force junior Cale Simmons.
Shepherd's effort earned 3.5 points for the Liberty men's team, which currently shares 45th place with Air Force, with one day remaining in the meet. The Flames have now scored points at the national meet for six consecutive years.
Shepherd closes out his stellar collegiate career as a seven-time Big South pole vault champion, including four indoor titles and three outdoor crowns. He was also the first Liberty men's pole vaulter ever to reach the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, doing so each of the past two seasons.
"I can't express how thankful I am and how amazing it was to finish up by breaking the school record and getting All-American status," Shepherd reflected. "I'm in complete awe that God would show that much grace for me."