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Liberty XC to Compete at Hokie Open on Friday
A small group of Liberty men's and women's cross country runners will wrap up their respective seasons at the low-key Hokie Open, Friday afternoon in Blacksburg, Va. The men's 6K is set for 4:30 p.m., followed by the women's 4K at 5:10 at the Buford Meredith Cross Country Course.
Friday afternoon will be a bit chilly in Blacksburg. The high temperature is only projected to reach the mid-40s, with a 16-mph wind blowing from the west northwest.
Who is Competing?
Liberty's tentative list of competitors includes just one men's runner (Cameron Francis) and seven Lady Flames (Stephanie Buda, Mary Cate Cooper, Kaitlyn Hutchins, Alyssa Karle, Hannah Scherlacher, Jennifer Tartini and Heather Wyatt).
Checking Out the Course
This will be the eighth straight year that Liberty has competed in at least one event at the mostly flat Buford Meredith Cross Country Course, which hosted the 2012 ACC Cross Country Championships.
Lady Flames Stephanie Buda (2011 and 2012 Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational), Mary Cate Cooper (2012 Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational and 2013 Hokie Open) and Kaitlyn Hutchins (2013 Hokie Open) have all run races at the course previously in their careers.
A Look Back at Last Year
Last season, one Flame and six Lady Flames raced at the Hokie Open, on Nov. 8, 2013. Jacob Onifer placed 16th of 24 men's runners with a 6K time of 19:39.9.
On the women's side, the Lady Flames were paced by Alexis Taylor. She clocked 15:20.8 for the 4K course, finishing 13th of 23. Kaitlyn Hutchins was 20th in 16:13.6, while Mary Cate Cooper took 22nd place in 16:20.6.
Bouncing Back from Big South
Cameron Francis, Mary Cate Cooper, Alyssa Karle and Jennifer Tartini will all be racing for the second time in seven days, after competing in the Big South Cross Country Championships in Boiling Springs, N.C., on Saturday. They helped Liberty place second in both the men's and women's team standings.
On the men's side, Francis finished 25th of 82 entrants with an 8K time of 26:42.70. He served as the Flames' No. 8 runner and was the ninth-fastest freshman in the race.
In the women's 5K, Karle, Tartini and Cooper came in eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, among the Lady Flames. Karle crossed the line 48th of 85 runners in 20:26.45, Tartini was 55th in 20:36.31 and Cooper took 61st place in 20:57.59.
Reaching the Finish Line
Friday's Hokie Open will most likely be the final race of the 2014 season for each of Liberty's competitors there. The Flames and Lady Flames will be limited to seven entrants apiece at the 2014 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, which are set for Nov. 14 at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
Moreover, the Hokie Open will close out the collegiate cross country careers of Lady Flames seniors Stephanie Buda and Mary Cate Cooper.