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Liberty Sweeps Big South Outdoor Track Titles
Day 3 Recap Video
Liberty completed its seventh time hosting the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships on a sun-drenched Saturday at the newly-refurbished Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. Just as on the previous six occasions, the Flames and Lady Flames swept the Big South team titles on their home track.
The Liberty men's squad won six Saturday events, highlighted by a 1-2-3-4 sweep of the pole vault and a 1-2-3-5 finish in the men's 5K. As a result, the Flames rolled to their 18th championship in the 20-year history of the meet and their seventh in a row. Liberty racked up 213 points, putting the Flames 82 tallies ahead of runner-up Coastal Carolina's score of 131.
Liberty also closed out its 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 exchanged the lead with two-time defending champion Coastal Carolina several times on Saturday, before going in front for good when Khristina Kanagy and Jacy Christiansen placed second and third, respectively, in the women's 5K final. Liberty scored 210 points to the Chanticleers' 203.25 for the narrowest margin of victory among the Lady Flames' 13 Big South outdoor team titles and its first win at this meet since 2010.
Redshirt senior Ryan Smith won the shot put while placing second in both the discus and hammer to earn his second straight Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer award. It was the seventh consecutive year that a Liberty Flame has captured the honor.
Meanwhile, sophomore Mychelle Cumings swept the women's shot put and discus crowns for the second year in a row. As a result, she was voted as Liberty's first Big South Women's Outstanding Field Performer since Marie Williams in 2009.
Head coach Brant Tolsma was tabbed Big South Men's and Women's Coach of the Year, bringing his career total to 54 Big South Coach of the Year laurels. It was the seventh straight year that Tolsma has been honored as Big South Men's Coach of the Year at this meet.
Liberty's honorees on the Big South All-Academic Team were both distance runners, redshirt sophomore Caleb Edmonds and sophomore Meredith Mistretta.
Men's Day Three Recap
For the second straight year, Liberty swept the top four places in the men's pole vault, led by Cody Bingham's winning clearance of 16-0.75. The redshirt freshman completed a yearly sweep of the Big South indoor and outdoor men's pole vault crowns.
Behind him, Cody Fridgen placed second, equaling his personal best and qualifying for the IC4A meet at 15-9. Harrison Allen cleared a personal-best 15-3 for third place, while freshman Ken Ritchey sailed over a season-best 15-3 to finish fourth.
After placing first, second, third and fourth in Thursday night's men's 10K final, Liberty's distance runners almost repeated the feat in Saturday's 5K. In the next-to-last men's event, the Flames punctuated their team victory with a 1-2-3-5 finish.
Caleb Edmonds led the way in a time of 14:26.14, followed by Josh MacDonald in an outdoor personal-best clocking of 14:28.70. For MacDonald, it was his third All-Big South performance in as many days, following third-place finishes in both Thursday's 10K and Friday's steeplechase.
Jeremie Bourget also recorded an outdoor 5K personal best at 14:31.29, crossing the line third to match his finish at the Big South indoor meet. After winning Thursday's 10K, David Ricksecker was fifth in the 5K, posting a 14:38.85.
Isaac Wendland enjoyed a most successful Saturday, winning the first two Big South individual titles of his career. He started his day with a 1,500-meter victory in a time of 3:56.78. Ninety minutes later, Wendland clocked a season-best and IC4A-qualifying 800 time of 1:51.37 to complete the first Big South men's 800/1,500 sweep by a Flame since Stephen Githuka in 1999.
Andre Washington was another busy, productive Flame on Saturday, highlighted by his victory in the 400 hurdles. He posted a personal-best time of 51.95 seconds, moving up to fifth in program history while becoming Liberty's first Big South 400 hurdles champion since Tim O'Donnell in 2009.
Washington also qualified for the IC4A meet with a season-best 400 dash time of 48.17, placing fifth in the event.
The senior ran on both of the Flames' relays as well, helping the 4 x 100 squad take third place in 41.11 seconds and the 4 x 400 relay unit finish fourth in 3:15.24. Washington was joined by Roderick Spruel, Tarell Williams and ConRoy Smith in the 4 x 100. His 4 x 400 teammates included Wendland, Kyle Gill and Paul Arslain.
Chris Johnson popped off a season-best 48-8.75 triple jump in the sixth and final round, winning the event title for the second time in three years.
Smith briefly held the lead during the latter stages of the discus before coming in second with a season-best 159-3 heave. He wraps up his brilliant career with 10 Big South individual titles and 15 All-Big South honors.
Women's Day Three Recap
Liberty trailed Coastal Carolina by 2.25 points (192.25-190) in the women's team standings entering the penultimate event, the 5K. However, the duo of Kanagy and Christiansen enabled the Lady Flames to turn the tables. Kanagy maintained second place throughout the race, running an outdoor personal-best and ECAC-qualifying time of 17:14.83.
Meanwhile, Christiansen made a powerful charge through the field during the final laps, ending up third and cutting 20 seconds off of her 5K personal best. The sophomore, who now ranks No. 5 in program history with her 17:26.20 effort, helped Liberty outscore Coastal Carolina, 14-1, and seal the team victory.
Not to be overlooked, though, was a key 1-2-3 podium sweep by the Liberty women's discus throwers late in the meet. Cumings led the charge, throwing a meet-record and season-best 166-11 for her second straight Big South discus title.
Jocelyn Williams (155-8) and Jennifer Nicholson (155-4) placed second and third, respectively. The performance added more than two feet to Nicholson's personal best in the event.
After the Lady Flames had set three school records on Friday, redshirt freshman Ansley Gebben equaled one on Saturday. Her 400 hurdles time of 60.57, which placed third in the event, equaled the mark which Danielle McNaney had set at the 2005 Big South meet. Gebben, who helped the Liberty volleyball team win the Big South title in November, played a key role in her first Liberty track & field Big South team crown.
Fellow freshman Brittney Webley followed with a fourth-place finish in the 400 hurdles, running 61.68 seconds. Now No. 4 on Liberty's all-time list, Webley joined Gebben in qualifying for the ECAC meet.
Staying with the freshman theme, Janae Jones became the third Lady Flame ever to triple jump over 40 feet. She reached a personal-best 40-4.25 for second place in the event. Teammate Melissa Rohwer triple jumped a season-best 38-10.5, coming in fourth.
After setting school records during Friday's 100 and 200 prelims, sophomore Abigail Flower earned All-Big South recognition with third-place finishes in both events on Saturday. Her times (11.84 in the 100 and 23.95 in the 200) were impressive, considering that both races were run into a headwind.
Amanda Wimbush stepped onto the all-conference podium for the first time in her career, after placing third in the 800 at 2:14.04.
Liberty clocked season-best times of 46.55 in the 4 x 100 relay and 3:51.26 in the 4 x 400, placing fourth and third, respectively. The 4 x 100 relay grouping included Sherri Spruel, Olivia Davis, Flower and Webley. Meanwhile, Corinn Bedell joined Gebben, Flower and Webley in posting the Lady Flames' first ECAC-qualifying 4 x 400 effort of the 2013 campaign.
Liberty will remain within the Commonwealth for its next meet, as the Flames and Lady Flames will compete in the Highlander Invitational, Friday and Saturday at Radford.
Final Men's Team Standings
1) Liberty – 213
2) Coastal Carolina – 131
3) High Point – 110
4) Charleston Southern – 81
5) VMI – 73
6) Campbell – 65
7) Radford – 56
8) Gardner-Webb – 44
9) Winthrop – 25
10) UNC Asheville - 20
Final Women's Team Standings
1) Liberty – 210
2) Coastal Carolina – 203.25
3) Charleston Southern – 89.5
4) Campbell – 74
5) UNC Asheville – 51.75
6) High Point – 48
7) Gardner-Webb – 42.5
8) Winthrop – 39
9) VMI – 38
10) Radford – 23
Men's Outstanding Track Performer
Evan Emery, High Point
Women's Outstanding Track Performer
Jeanne Stroud, Winthrop
Men's Outstanding Field Performer
Ryan Smith, Liberty
Women's Outstanding Field Performer
Mychelle Cumings, Liberty
Men's Freshman of the Year
Alex Young, Gardner-Webb
Women's Freshman of the Year
Jessica Gelibert, Coastal Carolina
Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Cabell Willis, VMI
Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Jeanne Stroud, Winthrop
Men's All-Academic Team
Ben Bell, Gardner-Webb
Eric Baldwin, Campbell
Kurt Hibert, UNC Asheville
Corvaughn Archie, Charleston Southern
Tristan Faure, High Point
Cameron Griggs, Coastal Carolina
Gabe Holguin, Winthrop
Caleb Edmonds, Liberty
Joseph Betts, Radford
Cabell Willis, VMI
Women's All-Academic Team
Kelsey Hunt, High Point
Ivana Hughes, Gardner-Webb
Emily Marchini, Coastal Carolina
Meredith Mistretta, Liberty
Heidi Dean, Charleston Southern
Teresa Williamson, Radford
Emma Bussard, UNC Asheville
Jenna Moye, VMI
Jeanne Stroud, Winthrop
Brianna Kincade, Campbell
Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty
Women's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty