Mar 31, 2009

Liberty outdoor track opens up season with strong showing

by Chris McNair

Competing on different tracks in different cities and against different schools simultaneously, the Flames track team split in two this past weekend. Despite the split teams, the Flames still managed to score impressive victories in multiple events at the Raleigh Relays and the VMI/Washington & Lee Track and Field Carnival.

Both the men’s and women’s teams excelled in Saturday’s events, but several Lady Flames competed notably well at the VMI/Washington & Lee Track and Field Carnival.

Sophomores Jennifer Healey and Krystal Matthews and freshmen Rachel Houseknecht and Melanie Sims, all posted more than one top-four finish on Saturday. Each earned honors in the 400-meter hurdles, triple jump, pole vault and long jump, respectively. Healey’s triple jump was the longest by a Lady Flame thus far this season (36-4.25).
On the men’s side, freshman Isaac Wendland was the most impressive performer for the Flames on Saturday. He notched a personal best 1:55.80 to place ninth in the 800-meter field.

Saturday’s Raleigh Relays were more of a collective success for the Flames. Sophomore Clarence Powell, headlining all Flames’ performances, made a startling outdoor season debut, winning the men’s triple jump and qualifying for the NCAA Division I East Regional Championships for the second straight year.

Saturday’s wind conditions were variable and in no way conducive so Powell’s ability to land past the 49-foot mark in the triple jump. Nonetheless, he was still able to accomplish the feat despite testy weather conditions.

Other notable performers included sophomore Elliot Galeone, who finished runner-up in the men’s javelin, as well as senior Matt Parker and ended up placing 12th. Freshman Will Reeves stopped the clock in at 4:01.00, the fastest 1500-meter time by a Liberty men’s runner this season. As a result, he is now in sixth place among 70 competitors in Section II of the men’s 1,500-meter run.

The Lady Flames relay quartets also excelled. The 4x100 quartet, which consists of freshman Olivia Charnuski, freshman Alyssa Pegues, junior Chenoa Freeman and senior Andrea Beckles got things started on a good note, finishing eighth in a season-best time of 46.38. The effort puts them in the No. 2 spot on Liberty’s all-time performance list.

Liberty will host its first home track and field meet of the 2009 outdoor season next Friday and Saturday at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. The two-day invitational will begin Friday at 1 p.m. with the opening event of the decathlon being the 100-meter dash.

Contact Chris McNair at


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