Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On track to Boston

ECAC/IC4A qualifiers set personal best against the nations top-notch athletes

Distance runner junior Josh MacDonald finished with Liberty’s highest placing as the men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up their indoor seasons at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston, Mass., March 1-3.

Breaking the ceiling — Liberty’s men’s track and field team places fifth out of 44 teams. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

In three days of competition, 30 Liberty athletes competed in a field including more than 120 schools. Those participating in the championships met or exceeded ECAC/IC4A qualifying standards in their individual events throughout the indoor seasons.

In the ECAC Championship, redshirt senior Christina Mitchell finished the pentathlon in fourth place with a total of 3,614 points for the Lady Flames. Mitchell was a top finisher in the championship pentathlon for the second time in her career. She placed third in 2011.

Teammate Audrey Bamford finished in eighth place in the pentathlon in her first appearance at the championship meet. Sophomore Riley Brandon also competed in the championship for the first time, earning ninth place in the multi-event. The three Lady Flames combined to produce six team points for the women.

On the second day of the meet, sophomore Melissa Rohwer finished the triple jump in 14th place with a distance of 38-3.25. Janae Jones jumped for 38-1.25 and came in just behind Rohwer for 15th place.

On the track, senior Khristina Kanagy set a new personal record in the 5000-meter run, finishing the race with a time of 17:13.96. Kanagy’s time earned her 19th place in the event.

In the IC4A Championship, the Liberty men posted notable field finishes in the weight throw and high jump during the first two days of competition.

Ryan Smith threw for 61-6.25 and earned fifth place in the weight throw. Smith placed for the third consecutive year in the IC4A event.

High-jumper Kyle Wheeler finished the competition in seventh place after clearing 6-9. Smith and Wheeler contributed 5.5 points to the team score.

Redshirt freshman Cody Bingham also contributed a point to the Flames team total with an eighth-place finish in the heptathlon.

MacDonald crossed the finish line in third place in the men’s 5000-meter run, providing six team points. MacDonald’s time of 14:10.33 was more than three seconds faster than the 2012 championship-winning time. He also improved his personal best time by 17 seconds.

Freshman Jeremie Bourget and redshirt sophomore Ngetich Kipchirchir also set personal records in the 5000. Bourget took 10th place with a time of 14:29.28, and Kipchirchir crossed the finish line at 14:41.98 for 20th place.

After an impressive indoor season, the track and field teams will now transition to outdoor competition.

“It’s always fun when we can start outdoor,” Head Coach Brant Tolsma said. “We’re looking forward to our first meet.”

The Flames and the Lady Flames will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to begin their outdoor seasons with the Coastal Carolina Invitational March 8-9. Liberty will then host the Liberty Collegiate Invitational April 5-6 at the newly refurbished Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. The Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championships will also be held at the improved facility toward the end of April.

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