After starting the season 0-8 for the first time in program history, the Flames strung together four straight wins in the 2013 Big South Championship, punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Seeded No. 5 in the conference’s North Division, Liberty defeated Coastal Carolina and the top three seeds to claim its third Big South title and first since 2004. Junior point guard Davon Marshall was voted Big South Championship MVP.
Guards Tavares Speaks and John Caleb Sanders were also named to the Big South All-Tournament team.
Liberty became the second 20-loss team in NCAA history to reach the 68-team tournament and received an abundance of national media attention. Head coach Dale Layer appeared on national radio and TV outlets, including CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC, while features in the New York Times and Washington Post told the story of Liberty’s improbable Cinderella run to the Big Dance.
The Flames kicked off the NCAA Tournament on March 19, squaring off with North Carolina A&T in Dayton, Ohio. Despite a late-game comeback, the Flames were edged by the Aggies, 73-72. However, as Liberty exited the floor, fans inside UD Arena applauded the Flames for their gutsy performance.
Senior wrestler Andrew Wilson claimed the national title in the 235-pound weight class at the 16th-annual National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championship Tournament in Allen, Texas, on March 16.
Including Wilson, the Liberty University wrestling team nabbed seven All-American nods and finished third place as a team overall, repeating its standing from last year.
Individually, Liberty junior Aaron Thompson, the defending champion in the 197-pound weight class, and freshman Marcus Miller (157 pounds) earned second-place showings while Royal Brettrager (184) and Bobby Clymer (165) overcame injuries to place third.
At the NCWA National Duals, Jan. 19 in Dalton, Ga., the defending champion Flames, upset top-seeded UMBC before finishing runner-up to second-seeded Lindenwood-St. Charles.
The women’s basketball team finished with a 27-7 record, winning the Big South Championship title and competing in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and the 15th time in the last 17 seasons.
Liberty went 16-2 in Big South play, capturing its 14th regular-season conference title and tying the Big South record for most conference victories in a season.
Liberty won 11 straight road games to end the season, which also included a 14-game winning streak.
For the second straight season and the fifth time overall, the team finished as the NCAA Division I national leader in rebound margin.
Devon Brown and Tolu Omotola earned first team All-Big South recognition. Brown was also tabbed Richmond Times-Dispatch State Player of the Year and Big South Championship MVP while joining Elena Kisseleva as the only two Lady Flames to score 2,000 career points. Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. congratulated the team at its annual awards banquet at the Hancock Welcome Center April 24.
The Liberty men’s track & field team captured its 16th consecutive Big South indoor championship by 65 points over runner-up High Point.
Co-Big South Women’s Outstanding Field Performer Mychelle Cumings led the Lady Flames to a second-place finish. Liberty shared 25th place in the final ECAC standings.
The Flames, who have won the men’s team crown at every Big South Indoor Track & Field Championship ever contested, went on to place fifth at the IC4A meet.
For the first time since 2007, Liberty hosted the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the newly renovated Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex April 18-20. Just as on the previous six occasions, the Flames and Lady Flames swept the Big South team titles.
The men’s squad rolled to its 18th championship in the 20-year history of the meet and its seventh in a row. The Flames also closed out their seventh consecutive Big South men’s “Triple Crown” of championships, after winning the cross country title in October and the indoor track & field championship in February.
The Lady Flames earned their 13th Big South outdoor team title and their first win at this meet since 2010.
Head coach Brant Tolsma was tabbed Big South Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year.
The Flames men’s snowboarders, led by Kevin Hoff’s eighth-place performance and Dave Promnitz’s 16th-place showing, finished fourth in the slopestyle competition at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho. Eden Jones placed fourth individually in the women’s event.
Junior Tim Steltzer placed 12th out of 40 skiers in the men’s individual slopestyle event after winning the Big Air competition, an exhibition similar to an X-Games showcase.
After competing for three years in the National Lacrosse Conference (NLC), Liberty made the move to the Big South Conference this season. Liberty raced out to its best start in program history, winning four of its first six contests. The Lady Flames delivered dominating performances in wins against Stetson, 16-3, and Delaware State, 21-3. Liberty collected its first Big South win in team history, defeating Campbell on April 1, 8-6.
The Liberty women’s swim team, in just its third season, posted a 14-2 record, including a 9-1 mark in conference dual meets. The Lady Flames earned their second straight runner-up finish at the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Championships. At the season’s conclusion, the team earned its first-ever national ranking, listed 37th on the Endless Pools/CollegeSwimming.com Top 25.
During the conference championship meet, Liberty had six total event victories (four individual, two relays) and 20 podium finishes (16 individual, four relays). The Lady Flames set five conference records, five meet records, and 13 program records.
Freshman Jess Reinhardt won both the 100 and 200 fly at the CCSA Championships, and was named the CCSA Women’s Freshman of the Meet. She went on to compete in the 100 fly at the 2013 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, becoming the second Lady Flames swimmer to compete at nationals.
The Flames edged defending Southeast Lacrosse Conference champion Elon for the first time in the regular-season final 11-10 at the Liberty Lacrosse Complex to finish ranked No. 4 in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division II poll. They went on to defeat Savannah College of Art and Design to secure their first SELC championship title and qualify for their first MCLA Division II national tournament. Liberty will move up to the Division I level next season.
Liberty’s Division I team made its sixth trip to the ACHA Division I National Championships in seven seasons. It knocked one top-ranked ACHA DI poll team, Ohio, out of its spot and nearly bumped a second, losing to Arizona State in a 4-3 shootout, Jan. 10 in Tempe, Ariz.
The Flames (24-14-2) finished 13th in the final ACHA DI poll.
Senior forward Rick Turner finished fourth in the league with 75 points (43 goals, 32 assists), and won the shootout competition at the ACHA DI All-Star game, hosted by Ohio, also scoring a goal in his side’s 12-9 triumph.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation for the final three ACHA Division I national polls, Liberty’s DI team (29-3), advanced to the first championship game in program history before being blanked 2-0 by Minnesota, a team it had shut out 6-0 in pool play, on March 10 at the Ashburn (Va.) Ice House near Washington, D.C.
Senior captain and leading scorer Stacey McCombe and sophomore goalie Samantha Rupp, who ranked first in the nation with her 1.05 Goals Against Average, were both named to the all-ACHA DI first team.
The Liberty Flames Baseball team had a strong start to the 2013 season, defeating the fifth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C., 3-2, the highest nationally ranked team Liberty has beaten in program history.
The team proceeded to win nine consecutive games to tie the program’s record winning streak at the Division I level.
The Flames christened their new facility with a 4-1 win over Penn State, before a sellout crowd of 2,565 on Feb. 22. The facility also sold out on April 2, when No. 4 University of Virginia visited Liberty for the first time since 2005. The Flames won their first seven contests at the stadium.
Liberty softball opened its 20th season of Division I play in mid-February. The team posted four walk-off victories, beginning with a 9-8 win over Fairfield.
Junior Katie Zavodny recorded the first five-hit game in program history on Feb. 27 against Hampton. She set a new program record for longest hitting streak, as well as new season and career records for steals.
Liberty defended its Flamethrower Invitational title to qualify for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships in North Augusta, S.C., placing 30th out of 40 teams after five rounds of singles and doubles play on April 6.
Eleven members of the team traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., for the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs Championships at the Minneapolis Convention Center April 9-12. Jill Wippermann’s sixth-place performance in the all-around and JennyBeth Nicklow’s seventh-place standing on the balance beam catapulted the Lady Flames to a 13th-place team showing out of 65 teams, their highest finish in four consecutive trips to nationals.
Liberty built upon its 10th-place finish at last year’s NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, posting the program’s highest rankings during the 2012-13 season: No. 18 by Golfweek, No. 24 by Golfstat, and No. 23 in the Golf World/Nike Coaches’ poll. Liberty narrowly missed capturing its third-straight Big South Men’s Golf Championship title, losing by two strokes to 14-time champion Coastal Carolina. Mathieu Fenasse, a sophomore from France, carded eight birdies to earn medalist honors with a career-low 75-70-66-211 and an individual bid to the NCAA regionals.
Five men and five women qualifiers helped Liberty place 36th out of 104 teams at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Nationals, April 13 in Tempe, Ariz. Joseph Anderson, an elite triathlete, finished 31st out of a field of 595 men to lead the men to a 41st-place team finish. Women’s team members Katie Mullaly (134th out of 406) and Lane Ruchte (140th) helped earn the Lady Flames a 35th-place showing.
Liberty’s women’s lightweight four and novice four boats competed in the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, the largest collegiate regatta in the world, May 11-12. Its men’s lightweight and novice four teams raced in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championships, May 25-26 in Gainesville, Ga.
On the year, the Lady Flames posted six wins in Big South Conference play, equaling their single-season record, and collected multiple Big South weekly awards. Brittany Yang, Nicola Wellman, and Rebekah Jenkins earned Conference Player of the Week honors, while Valerie Thong garnered Big South Freshman of the Week.
The Flames finished fifth out of 24 teams in the Division IAAA bracket of the April 4-6 National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Collegiate Club Volleyball Championships at the Dallas Convention Center, as one of 360 teams competing on 52 courts.
After going 4-1 in pool play, Liberty lost to top-seeded eventual tournament champion Iowa State in the first round of the single-elimination playoffs. Senior setter Jamie Stedjan earned honorable mention recognition on the all-tournament team.
The men’s team jumped out to a record-setting 9-1 start, highlighted by wins against Eastern Kentucky, Norfolk State, and UNC Asheville. Liberty also made a Spring Break trip to Hawaii, where they squared off against three opponents, including nationally ranked Idaho.
Shea Thomas set Liberty’s single-season record in singles wins with 25. In doubles play, Thomas and partner Egon Samaai matched the single-season program record with 22 victories.