Sep 23, 2008

Flames first, Lady flames second at Big South Preview

by Chris Wong

On Saturday morning, Liberty hosted the men’s and women’s Big South Preview cross country meet held on the newly renovated course at the Campus East Intramural Fields, marking the first time a meet has been held on Liberty Mountain in 15 years. Seven of the 10 Big South Conference member schools took part in the event. The Flames ran away with a first place finish and Coastal Carolina claimed the top spot on the women’s side.

Leading the way for the Flames were Jordan McDougal and Josh Edmonds, who took first and second in the Men’s 8K. In the Women’s 5K, Ashley Osborne and Rebekah Ricksecker finished second and third, respectively, placing the Lady Flames second behind conference rival Coastal Carolina.

McDougal and Edmonds took the lead towards the halfway point in the race, locking their positions as the top two runners and finishing the race together.

“Yeah, we wanted to finish it together… We were just cruising,” McDougal said.

The biggest question was who the winner was. They both cruised in at 26:16.2, but after careful examination of the finishing photo, McDougal was awarded the first cross country victory of his collegiate career.

The course invigorated runners like Edmonds, who felt confident about the new renovations that Liberty provided for cross country running.

“I think the course actually turned out pretty nice. They did a bunch of work on it and it looked good. I think it will be a good course because there’s a lot of flat grass and some hills,” Edmonds said.

The Flames placed five runners in the top 13 for a 29-66 advantage over second place VMI. In the Women’s 5K contest, the Lady Flames finished just behind Coastal Carolina totaling 45 points to Coastal’s 38.

The duo of Osborne and Ricksecker finished in the top three behind High Point’s Zsanett Kis. Kis finished with a course record of 19:11.3, while Osborne finished in 19:17.6, six seconds behind the lead. Ricksecker came in at 19:28.7, while reigning Big South Freshman of the Year Dacia Bushman, finished seventh, clocking in at 19:42.8.

With the race over Osborne felt confident about her finish on Liberty’s new course.

“I really liked (the course). I was kind of worried about it at first, but I really liked it because there were a good amount of hills, but not too many, “ Osborne said. “Coach wanted us to start off slower and run together, and so I felt good going into it. I was low key and I like to start off in the back and move up, so it was perfect that I could do that.”

“Well, we were expecting to win on the men’s side and they didn’t even run that hard, so that turned out kind of how I expected,” Head Coach Brant Tolsma said.

“On the girl’s side, we definitely wanted to win that. We had a few problems. Physically, some things are bothering them, but it looks like if we get healthy, and (once) everyone gets ready it’s going to be a really good battle in the conference,” Tolsma said.
Tolsma explained that the next few weeks will hold a much more difficult task for his young team.

“In the next race running will be very tough, so it’s going to be an eye opening experience for our freshman to find out what real high level college cross country is all about. In two weeks our men’s team will be a lot stronger, but you’re never confident because anything could go wrong…that’s athletics.”

Both teams travel to Bethlehem, Pa., on Oct. 3 for the Brooks Paul Short Run hosted by Lehigh University. The men’s race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., while the women take to the course at 11:45 a.m.


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