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Christiansen Places 11th at Pre-Nationals
Liberty senior Jacy Christiansen finished 11th in the women's 6K white race at Saturday's ISU Pre-National Invitational, marking the highest placement ever by a Lady Flame at this meet. She helped the Lady Flames place 25th in the white race, while the Liberty men's squad came in 35th in the 8K blue race at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Head coach Brant Tolsma's women's team totaled 534 points, which was good for 25th place out of 33 teams in the 6K white (non-seeded) race. Washington State was victorious in the white race, posting 143 points to runner-up Southern Illinois' 182.
On the men's side, a 128th-place finish by freshman Stalline Kurgat contributed to the Flames' 35th-place showing in the field of 46 teams in the blue (seeded) race with 853 total points. Up front, Colorado justified its No. 1 national ranking with a convincing 35-91 victory over No. 2 Oregon.
Women's 6K White Race Recap
Despite racing on a soggy course, Christiansen was able to clock her fastest 6K time of the season and the second fastest of her career at 21:57.4. That put the New Hampshire native 11th among the field of 213 finishers in the women's 6K white race.
Prior to Saturday, Jennifer Klugh's 36th-place finish in the 2010 women's 6K blue race marked the top placement ever by a Lady Flame at Pre-Nationals.
The Lady Flames' next three finishers were separated by only 2.7 seconds, led by sophomore Terrill Zentmeyer. She crossed the line in 23:46.4 for 127th place overall, making her Liberty's No. 2 runner for the first time in her career.
Redshirt junior Caroline Parris closed out the Lady Flames' five scorers, finishing in 145th place with an official time of 24:02.7 for the 6K.
Men's 8K Blue Race Recap
Kurgat became the fourth different Flame to serve as the team's No. 1 runner in this season's first five races, joining Sam Hibbs (UVa Duals), Titus Koech (Gardner-Webb XC Invitational and Greater Louisville Classic) and Josh MacDonald (Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational). Kurgat completed the 8K course in 25:40.2 for 128th place out of 310 entrants.
Fellow freshman and Eldoret, Kenya native Koech came in just two-tenths of a second later, placing 131st in 25:40.4.
Hibbs and MacDonald also finished close to one another, with Hibbs placing 172nd in 25:57.0 and MacDonald taking the 179th spot in 26:00.2.
Freshman Graham Hansel clocked the fastest 8K time of his collegiate career (26:29.7) for 243rd place overall and the Flames' No. 5 position.
Liberty will take a weekend off from competition in preparation for the 2014 Big South Cross Country Championships on Nov. 1. The meet will be contested on Gardner-Webb's campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., with the women's 5K starting at 10:30 a.m. and the men's 8K following at 11:30. The Liberty men's squad will aim for its unprecedented 10th consecutive Big South team title, while the Lady Flames will chase their fourth conference championship in the last six years.