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Liberty Men's XC Takes 2nd, Women 3rd at GWU

September 13, 2014
|  Boiling Springs, N.C.
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The Liberty men's cross country team placed second at Saturday's Gardner-Webb XC Invitational.

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams got their first look at the venue for the 2014 Big South Cross Country Championships at Saturday morning's Gardner-Webb XC Invitational and came away with some positive results. The men's squad placed second overall, while the Lady Flames came in third in the final women's team standings.

Freshman Titus Koech made an impressive collegiate debut for the Flames, placing third in the men's 8K. He led a group of six Liberty runners in the top 18, as the Flames totaled 49 team points. However, High Point's top six finishers all placed inside the top 10, enabling the Panthers to take home the men's team title with 28 points.

On the women's side, senior Jacy Christiansen came in third with a 5K time of 18:51.10. She was one of four Lady Flames to place in the top 15, helping Liberty finish third of 10 teams with 67 points. High Point made it a sweep of the day's team championships, claiming five of the top 11 positions and defeating women's runner-up Coastal Carolina, 41-50.

The course, featuring repeating 2K loops on Gardner-Webb's campus, yielded slower-than-usual times on the whole. The Runnin' Bulldogs will host the 2014 Big South Cross Country Championships at the same venue on Nov. 1.

Men's 8K Race Recap
Koech covered the 8K course in 25:46.04, putting him just 10.67 seconds behind men's first-place finisher Amon Terer of Campbell. The native of Eldoret, Kenya became the first men's freshman to serve as the Flames' No. 1 runner since Ngetich Kipchirchir did so at the 2012 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.

Junior Sam Hibbs edged High Point's James Quattlebaum for fifth place, crossing the finish line in 25:50.38. Freshman Stalline Kurgat was next for the Flames, taking 11th place in a time of 26:22.83.

Redshirt senior Josh MacDonald came in 13th in 26:42.38, while Liberty's final two entrants (redshirt sophomore Will Templeton and freshman Graham Hansel) came in side-by-side. Templeton clocked 27:10.74 for 17th place, while Hansel posted a 27:10.89 for the 18th spot out of 68 men's competitors.

Women's 5K Race Recap
Christiansen was one of only three women's runners to break 19 minutes for the 5K on Saturday, joining champion Letitia Saayman of Coastal Carolina (18:08.43) and runner-up Joan Maritim of Campbell (18:42.01).

Redshirt junior Meredith Mistretta made a promising return from an illness-shortened 2013 season, placing 10th of 80 women's entrants in 19:49.58. Classmate Caroline Parris followed in 13th place in 20:04.69, while sophomore Terrill Zentmeyer's personal-best 20:08.84 effort earned 15th place.

Sophomore Kat Bouton rounded out the Lady Flames' five scorers, crossing the line 26th in 20:28.20. Lindsey Bray made it three consecutive sophomore finishers for Liberty, placing 31st in 20:43.74. Jennifer Tartini was the Lady Flames' top freshman on the day, thanks to a 32nd-place showing in 20:48.23.

Liberty's next meet will be the Flames' second competition of the season at Panorama Farms in Earlysville, Va. The Sept. 26 Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational will begin with a women's 6K race at 10 a.m. and conclude with a men's 8K competition at 11.