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Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational to Begin Wednesday
Liberty will open the 2014-15 indoor track & field Wednesday and Thursday, playing host to the inaugural Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.
The low-key season opener, which will feature athletes from Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite, Hampton, Liberty (women only), Lynchburg College, Messiah, NC State, Radford, Randolph, Roanoke and Washington & Lee, will begin Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Thursday's action will commence at 9:30 a.m. with the women's triple jump and men's long jump.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available during both days of competition, by clicking the appropriate links on the Liberty track & field schedule/results page.
Darius Dixon, a promising freshman sprinter from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va., opened his Liberty track & field career by competing in the 200 and 400-meter dash events at the 2013 Liberty Kickoff on Dec. 5, 2013. Two days later, he was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 18.
In his memory, Liberty has renamed the Liberty Kickoff as the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. Dixon's parents, Herman and Shineka Dixon, will be on hand for this week's meet. Liberty track & field graduate assistant Jaiden Brandt will sing the national anthem prior to the start of Thursday's running events, at approximately 10:55 a.m., followed by Liberty head coach Brant Tolsma sharing a few reflections on Dixon's life.
Lady Flames Only
The Liberty women's indoor track & field team will begin its 2014-15 season at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. The men's indoor track & field squad will not officially get its season started until the Liberty Open (Jan. 16-17, 2015), although a number of Flames will compete unattached on Wednesday and Thursday.
Events to Watch
Appropriately, in a meet named for Dixon, the sprinting events are expected to produce some fast times on Thursday.
The women's sprints will feature a battle between Liberty teammates Abigail Flower and Oasis Hernandez. Flower, a senior team captain, owns the program records in the outdoor 100 (11.57) and 200 (23.48), while Hernandez set the indoor school records in the 60 (7.45) and 200 (24.37) as a freshman a year ago.
Similarly, ConRoy Smith and Stephen Racanelli will square off in the men's 60 dash. Smith won the Big South men's 100 dash title for the Flames a year ago, while Racanelli capped off a stellar freshman indoor season with a 21.38 clocking in the IC4A 200 dash.
The women's weight throw will be one of Wednesday's highlights. Liberty redshirt senior Jocelyn Williams will look to build upon her success from last year, when the New Jersey native won the Big South weight throw crown and boosted her personal best to 67-5.5.
Williams will be challenged by the NC State duo of Nicole Chavis and Sequoia Watkins. Chavis placed sixth in the women's weight throw at the 2014 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships with a 69-8 heave. Watkins, an All-American in the discus, owns a weight throw best of 59-6.75.
Fred Fulton won the Big South indoor men's shot put championship during his first year at Liberty in 2014. On Thursday, he will face former Messiah teammate Trevor Stutzman, an NCAA Division III All-American in the shot put with a personal best of 57-7.
Liberty's Audrey Bamford won the Liberty Kickoff pentathlon title last season. On Thursday, she will be pushed by teammates Riley Brandon, Erika Jackson and Jessica Harrison, who placed 1-2-4 in the event at the Big South meet a year ago.
Big South's Best
Last season, the Liberty men's team won its 17th straight team title at the 2014 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, while the Lady Flames finished as the runner-up for the second year in a row.
Six of Liberty's seven event champions at the 2014 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships return this season, and all six are entered in this week's meet.
For the Lady Flames, Mychelle Cumings has won three Big South indoor shot put titles in a row, while conference champions Oasis Hernandez (60), Jocelyn Williams (weight) and Riley Brandon (pentathlon) are also back.
A total of 12 Lady Flames are scheduled to make their Liberty track & field debuts at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. The list includes Holly Arey (shot put and weight throw), Olivia Behymer (400), Rebecca Davis (pentathlon), Mariel Finger (pole vault), Crystal Grierson (800), Dasiana Larson (shot put and weight throw), Erica Linnemann (800), Dana Mercer (60, 200 and long jump), Audrey Rabe (pole vault), Jasmine White (60 and 200), Enajah Winbush (60 and 200) and Erin Zappia (high jump).
After the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, Liberty will not return to action until the Liberty Open on Jan. 16 and 17, 2015.