Big South Announces 2011-12 T&F Athletes of the Year


CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( - Liberty pole vaulter Kolby Shepherd has been named the 2011-12 Men's Track and Field Athlete of the Year, while Charleston Southern sprinter Gabrielle Houston was tabbed the Women's Track and Field Athlete of the Year honor, it was announced today. The men's and women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year is an annual award voted on by the League's Head Track and Field Coaches at their annual June meeting.

Shepherd, a red-shirt senior from Dublin, Ga., capped off the 2012 track and field campaign with first-team All-America honors as he finished tied for fifth at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship.  He cleared 17' 8.5" at the meet to establish the Big South's all-time record.  This season he claimed the gold medal at the 2012 Big South Indoor Track and Field Championship with a clearance of 16' 5.25" and closed the indoor season out ranked No. 1 in the Big South with a jump of 17' 1.0".  During the outdoor season, Shepherd took home the Conference Championship with a leap of 16' 0.75".  During his career at Liberty, Shepherd claimed four indoor track and field championships and three outdoor titles.

Houston, a senior from Springfield, Ga., highlighted her 2012 season with honorable mention All-America accolades as she finished 18th in the country with a time of 23.68 in the 200-meter event at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.  She earned six All-Conference plaudits during the 2011-12 season, including a pair of gold medals at the 2012 Big South Indoor Track and Field Championships.  At the meet, she tied the Big South meet record as she won the 200-meter championship with a time of 24.14.  Her second first-place finish of the meet came in the 4x400-meter relay as she anchored her team to a time of 3:51.97.  Houston closed the meet out with a second-place finish in the 60 meters with a time of 7.49.  During the Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Houston placed second in the 100-meter event with a time of 11.80 and followed with a second-place time in the 200 meters at 24.13.  She helped her squad place third overall in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 46.13.  She closed out the season with top time in the 100 meters with a time of 11.45 and the No. 1 time in the indoor 200 meters as she turned in a time of 23.42.  She also owns the top indoor time this season in the 60-meter event with a time of 7.46, while her time of 24.14 in the indoor 200 was good for second-place.

Men's Honorable Mentions: Javon Young (Charleston Southern), Jason Flanagan (Coastal Carolina), Jacob Smith (High Point), Milan Ristic (UNC Asheville) and Antonio Wood (VMI)

Women's Honorable Mentions:, Erica Peake (Coastal Carolina), Manika Gamble (High Point) and Melinda Bendik (Liberty).