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Liberty XC to Return to Panorama Farms, Saturday
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One week after previewing the course for the Big South Cross Country Championships, the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will race at the site of this year's NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The Flames and Lady Flames are entered in Saturday's Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational at the Panorama Farms course in Earlysville, Va.
The men's 8K race will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the women's 5K at 10:30, in the second of Liberty's three meets at Panorama Farms in 2013.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results and in-progress splits will be available for both of Saturday's races, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.
The weather should be pretty pleasant for distance running on Saturday morning, with the forecast calling for temperatures in the low 60s under mostly sunny skies.
Scouting the Competition
Liberty will face its stiffest competition of the young season on Saturday, in both the men's and women's races. On the men's side, the Flames are one of 11 regionally-ranked teams entered. Two of those squads, No. 11 Eastern Kentucky and No. 16 Virginia, appear in this week's USTFCCCA national rankings.
National No. 14 William & Mary headlines the meet's 11 regionally-ranked women's squads, which hail from five of the nation's nine regions. In addition to facing six ranked teams from the Southeast Region, Liberty will go up against the Mid-Atlantic's No. 6 Navy, the Northeast's No. 5 Harvard, the West's No. 13 California and the South's No. 6 Ole Miss and No. 10 Auburn.
For the second straight week, Liberty will go head-to-head with Big South rival High Point. At last Saturday's VMI Invitational, the Liberty men's team finished first overall, 32 points ahead of the runner-up Panthers. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames were second and High Point was third in the women's standings, with just 10 points separating the two teams.
Checking Out the Course
Panorama Farms features rolling terrain, but is not as demanding of a venue as the Vista Links Golf Course in Buena Vista, Va., which hosted last Saturday's VMI Invitational. At the 2012 Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, six men's runners broke 24:30 for the 8K and half a dozen women's athletes ran sub-18:00 5Ks.
At the season-opening UVa Duals on Aug. 30 at Panorama Farms, both the men's and women's races were 4K contests. Saturday's meet will feature a men's 8K and a women's 5K. At the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 15, the men's race will extend to a 10K while the women will cover 6K.
Liberty opened its 2013 cross country season at Panorama Farms, racing at the UVa Duals on Aug. 30. Both the Flames and Lady Flames went 1-1 that day, defeating Radford and losing to host Virginia. Led by Sam Hibbs, all five of Liberty's men's runners crossed the finish line together, while Jacy Christiansen led a pack of six Lady Flames across the line.
Saturday will mark the third straight year that Liberty has entered athletes in the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. A year ago, a partial Lady Flames team finished fifth overall, paced by Jessica Gass' 28th-place effort.
Caleb Edmonds was the top performer among Liberty's current runners at the 2011 Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. He finished 13th in the men's 8K with a then personal-best time of 25:10.16.
Senior team captain Caleb Edmonds recorded the first individual victory of his collegiate cross country career at last Saturday's VMI Invitational. He finished the 8K course at the Vista Links Golf Course in 26:12.77, putting the Empire State native 18 seconds in front of teammate Ngetich Kipchirchir.
Edmonds earned a pair of conference awards for his efforts, as he was tabbed Big South Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week and shared the ECAC Division I Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week title with Boston University's Alec Olson.
Easy as 1-2-3-4
Liberty won the men's team title at the VMI Invitational in impressive fashion, spearheaded by a 1-2-3-4 finish by Caleb Edmonds, Ngetich Kipchirchir, Josh MacDonald and Jeremie Bourget. This is the second time in as many years that the Flames have posted a 1-2-3-4 finish at an invitational.
David Ricksecker, Edmonds, Kipchirchir and Bourget swept the top four spots at the Royal Cross Country Challenge, contested Oct. 12, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C, leading the Flames to victory.
After its impressive team championship at the VMI Invitational, the Liberty men's team climbed from No. 10 to No. 8 in the Southeast Region. Expect the regional rankings to shake up considerably next week, as nine of the top 14 teams in the Southeast Region are entered at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. The list includes No. 1 Eastern Kentucky, No. 2 Virginia, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 6 Duke, No. 8 Liberty, No. 9 Virginia Tech, No. 10 High Point, No. 11 William & Mary and No. 14 George Mason.
The Lady Flames have yet to crack the Southeast Region rankings this year, but have an opportunity to make a statement on Saturday. Regionally ranked No. 2 William & Mary, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 5 Virginia, No. 6 Eastern Kentucky, No. 13 UNCG and No. 14 Virginia Tech are all slated to compete.
This is also the first weekend that teams are eligible to earn at-large points toward qualification to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. These are earned by defeating strong teams from other regions in head-to-head competition. The list of ranked women's squads from other regions competing at Panorama Farms is listed above, under "Scouting the Competition." Meanwhile, the Flames will face Auburn (No. 5 in the South Region) and California (No. 8 in the West Region).
Liberty is competing for the second straight weekend, after racing in the VMI Invitational last Saturday. This is the first time that Liberty has raced its full men's and women's teams on back-to-back weekends since Sept. 23 (Roy Griak Invitational) and 30 (Greater Louisville Classic) of 2006. Assistant coach Josh McDougal was the men's individual champion in both of those races.
After Saturday, the Flames and Lady Flames will take an extended break from competition until the full teams return to action at the ISU Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Four for the 4 Miler
With Liberty limited to 10 women's entrants at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, four Lady Flames are expected to race on the streets of Lynchburg Saturday morning. Mary Cate Cooper, Kaitlyn Hutchins, Kate Spencer and Megan Versen are all slated to race in the Virginia 4 Miler, set for an 8 a.m. start at E.C. Glass High School.