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MacDonald Leads Flames to 7th Place at Virginia

September 26, 2014
|  Earlysville, Va.
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Josh MacDonald placed 20th at Friday's Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, contributing to Liberty's seventh-place team finish in the men's 8K race.

Redshirt senior Josh MacDonald placed 20th in the men's 8K at Friday morning's Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, helping the Liberty men's squad finish seventh in the team standings. Meanwhile, Jacy Christiansen's late-race charge contributed to the Lady Flames' victory over High Point in the women's race at Panorama Farms.

Liberty totaled 190 team points in the men's 8K race, placing the Flames seventh out of 12 squads, all of which are currently ranked regionally. Liberty defeated two teams (William & Mary and Duke) which were listed ahead of the Flames in this week's Southeast Region rankings.

National No. 13 Virginia won a tight battle for the men's team title, tallying 47 points to edge Furman (51 points) and No. 12 Iona (54 points). For the second straight meet, High Point finished one place in front of the Flames, claiming sixth place with 165 team points.

On the women's side, the Lady Flames came in ninth with 262 points, finishing eight tallies ahead of High Point after trailing the Panthers for much of the 6K race. No. 10 Virginia and No. 26 William & Mary placed first and second at this meet for the second consecutive year, with the Cavaliers defeating the Tribe by a 37-74 score.

Men's 8K Race Recap
MacDonald made a big move during the middle part of Friday's race, climbing from 61st place at the 2K mark to the 23rd spot by the 5K split. The California native ended up placing 20th overall in the field of 110 entrants, crossing the finish line in 24:39.15.

MacDonald is the third different Flame to serve as the team's No. 1 finisher in this season's first three meets, following Sam Hibbs at the UVa Duals and Titus Koech at the Gardner-Webb XC Invitational.

Hibbs passed 16 runners during the final 3K of Friday's race, finishing in the 29th position in an 8K personal-best time of 24:53.09. Meanwhile, Koech went out aggressively during the race's early stages before holding on for 40th place. The freshman's official time was 25:09.08.

Fellow freshman Stalline Kurgat made steady progress through the field throughout the race and passed several runners on the final straightaway to finish in 45th in 25:15.92. Redshirt sophomore Will Templeton was the Flames' fifth and final scorer, clocking a time of 25:43.78 for the 58th position. It was nearly a minute and a half faster than Templeton's 8K clocking from the Gardner-Webb XC Invitational on Sept. 13, as he raced against his younger brother (Furman freshman Aaron Templeton) for the first time in college.

The Flames' sixth and seventh runners on Friday were both making their Liberty cross country debuts. Redshirt sophomore Josh Showalter took 60th place in 25:46.35 while freshman Cameron Francis came home in 84th, thanks to a time of 26:26.93.

Women's 6K Race Recap
Christiansen sat in 43rd place at the 2K mark of Friday's race before climbing all the way up to 23rd by the conclusion. The senior's 6K time of 21:58.54 put her 48 seconds and 18 places ahead of High Point's top finisher, helping the Lady Flames edge the Panthers in the team standings.

Redshirt junior Meredith Mistretta was next for Liberty, placing 52nd of 85 entrants in 23:09.25. Sophomore Terrill Zentmeyer fared well in her first try at the 6K distance, as her time of 23:44.46 placed 70th overall and third on among the Lady Flames.

Redshirt junior Caroline Parris (75th place, personal-best 23:58.44) and sophomore Kat Bouton (76th place, 24:07.17) closed out Liberty's five scorers and sealed the Lady Flames' victory over High Point. The Panthers had captured the team title at the Gardner-Webb XC Invitational two weeks earlier, with Liberty coming in third.

A pair of freshmen (Alyssa Karle and Hannah Scherlacher) served as the Lady Flames' No. 6 and 7 finishers on the day. Karle clocked 25:34.44 for 82nd place, with Scherlacher finishing in 25:59.46 for the 83rd spot.

Liberty will divide its team next weekend. Some of the Flames and Lady Flames will travel to Kentucky for the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 4. The meet will be contested at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, which will enable the runners to preview the course for the 2014 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.

Other Liberty competitors will stay closer to home and race at the Hagan Stone Classic in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 4.