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Liberty Twilight Qualifier Set for Wednesday
After a one-year hiatus, the Liberty Twilight Qualifier will return with a vengeance, Wednesday afternoon and evening. Quite a few talented collegiate and post-collegiate athletes have entered the one-day meet, which will close out Liberty's 2013 home schedule at the newly-renovated Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex.
The 2013 Liberty Twilight Qualifier will begin at 1 p.m. with the women's discus and men's shot put. The men's 100-meter dash prelims will get the running events started at 2 p.m.
At 5 p.m., the Flames' 21 seniors will be honored in front of the Osborne Stadium seating area during Liberty track & field's first-ever Senior Night celebration.
The meet will feature athletes from 14 different colleges, including two ACC schools (Virginia Tech and Wake Forest), four Big South teams (Campbell, High Point, Liberty and VMI), three CIAA squads (Livingstone, St. Augustine's and Winston-Salem State), four ODAC schools (Bridgewater, Lynchburg, Roanoke and Washington & Lee) and the University of Ottawa (Canada).
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the meet, on LibertyFlames.com.
Wednesday's weather calls for a high of 71 degrees under mostly sunny skies. The most significant weather-related factor will be the projected steady northeast breeze, which will aid athletes in the sprints, hurdles and jumps but could potentially hinder performances in the circular races.
The Liberty Twilight Qualifier is back on this year's schedule after being cancelled a year ago due to renovations at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. The meet has been an annual highlight of Liberty's home outdoor track & field schedule since the inaugural Liberty Twilight Qualifier was contested in 1997.
At 5 p.m., Liberty will celebrate Senior Night, as the Flames' 21 seniors are recognized on the straightaway in front of the Osborne Stadium seating area. The list of honorees includes seven Lady Flames (Lyndi Fielitz, Khristina Kanagy, Christina Mitchell, Shelley Parker, Sherri Spruel, Amanda Wimbush and Betel Yosef) and 14 Flames (Paul Arslain, Maxwell Asante, Cody Fridgen, Kyle Gill, Marc Jackson, Aaron Johnson, Chris Johnson, Silvanous Parchment, Kevin Reddington, David Ricksecker, Ryan Smith, Roderick Spruel, Andre Washington and Isaac Wendland).
The 21 seniors combined to win 27 Big South individual event titles during their careers, including eight of Liberty's 12 event championships at the 2013 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Scheduled for a 6:15 p.m. start Wednesday evening, the alumni pole vault competition should be a fun event to keep an eye on. The top two men's pole vaulters in Liberty men's track & field history—Kolby Shepherd (17-8.5 clearance in 2012) and Todd Pettyjohn (17-6.5 in 1993) headline the list of confirmed competitors.
Although he is not a Liberty University alumnus, head coach Brant Tolsma may join in on the competition, while his daughter Tami Tolsma is also expected to participate.
Fun in the 4 x 1
The men's 4 x 100 relay, slated for a 5:55 p.m. start time, promises to be an exciting race. Liberty is seeded first but could be challenged by a quartet of Flames football players. The football quartet is expected to feature D.J. Abnar, Darrin Peterson, Kevin Fogg and Greg Pratt. Fogg is a veteran of the Liberty track & field team, as he helped the Flames' 4 x 100 relay squad place seventh at the 2010 IC4A meet.
Other Featured Events
2 p.m. – Men's Pole Vault
Liberty alum Kolby Shepherd and Virginia Tech alum Joe Davis will renew their pole vault rivalry, which most notably saw Shepherd tie for fifth place and Davis come in seventh at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The top collegiate entrant is Liberty redshirt freshman Cody Bingham, who has swept this year's Big South indoor and outdoor men's pole vault crowns and boosted his personal best to 16-4.75.
3:30 p.m. – Men's 200
Ten men's 200-meter dash runners are entered with seed times of 21.00 or faster, led by Charles Clark and Ramon Gittens. Clark was an All-American during his career at Florida State and competed in this event at the 2009 World Championships. That same year, Gittens won the Liberty Twilight Qualifier title in a time of 20.56 seconds.
4 p.m. – Women's Hammer
Contested on Campus East, the women's hammer field will feature the ACC champion (Virginia Tech's Annjulie Vester), the Big South champion (Campbell's Jessica Dunston), the ODAC champion (Roanoke's Samantha Clowser) and the Big South runner-up (Liberty's Jocelyn Williams).
4:45 p.m. – Women's Pole Vault
ACC women's pole vault champion Martina Schultze headlines a strong field of competitors. The sophomore, who owns a personal best of 14-7.25, placed third at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Mandissa Marshall, an All-American during her time at George Mason, will be another top contender. The entry list also includes a pair of athletes (VMI's Kate Collins and Liberty's Shelley Parker) who have each captured two Big South women's pole vault titles.
5 p.m. – Men's High Jump
Big South outdoor men's high jump titlist Avion Jones of VMI and Big South indoor champion Kyle Wheeler of Liberty will go head-to-head for the seventh time this season. The duo has split the previous six meetings. Campbell assistant coach Ryan Grinnell, an All-American during his career at Boise State, is also entered. Eddie Shelton of St. Augustine's won this event at the 2011 Liberty Twilight Qualifier and placed seventh at the 2013 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.
5 p.m. (approximately) – Men's Triple Jump
Liberty alum Anthony Bryant, the seventh-place finisher in the men's triple jump at the 2013 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships, is seeded first in an event he previously won at this meet in 2009. DeJon Wilkinson of St. Augustine's was the NCAA Division II indoor runner-up this season. The field also features the top two finishers in the men's triple jump at the 2013 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, champion Chris Johnson of Liberty and runner-up Christopher Cleare of Campbell.
6:25 p.m. – Men's 400
The men's 400 field includes two runners (Michael Bingham and Jamaal Torrance) who own personal-best times under 45 seconds. Bingham helped Great Britain capture the silver medal in the 4 x 400 relay at the 2009 World Championships, while Torrance ran on the 4 x 400 relay for Team USA at the 2011 World Championships. Josh Edmonds of St. Augustine's was the 2012 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships runner-up.
6:30 p.m. (approximately) – Men's Javelin
The presence of Wake Forest's Ben Lincoln alone makes the men's javelin an event to keep an eye on. He has qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships during each of the last two seasons and ranks No. 5 nationally this year at 247-3. Teammate Patrick Donelan came in fifth at the recent ACC Championships. Liberty's Daniel Klase threw a personal-best 202-1 to place fourth in the Big South.
6:30 p.m. (approximately) – Women's High Jump
Wake Forest's Nyki Caldwell, the 2013 ACC indoor runner-up tops the entry list in the women's high jump. Meanwhile, the Liberty duo of Kristen Willeford and Sadalia Ellis will make one final attempt to reach the ECAC qualification standard of 5-7.25. Willeford was the 2013 Big South indoor women's high jump champion, while Ellis has placed second in each of her first two collegiate high jump competitions in a Lady Flames uniform.
6:45 p.m. – Men's 800
Traditionally a strong race at the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, the men's 800 should be no different Wednesday evening. Marcelis Lynch of St. Augustine's is the top seed, after finishing eighth at the 2013 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships. Wake Forest's Thomas Bojanowski was the ACC's sixth-place finisher, while VMI's Jacob Lysher raced to the Big South indoor title in the two-lapper. Liberty sophomore John Sherret will hope for a fast pace to pull him under the IC4A standard of 1:51.80.
7 p.m. – Women's 800
CIAA women's 800-meter champion Kelly Shaw of St. Augustine's owns some impressive personal-best times, at 53.02 seconds in the 400 and 2:09.37 in the 800. She will square off against a pair of past Big South indoor women's mile champions in Liberty assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker and VMI senior Jenna Moye. Liberty Christian Academy senior Micah Brickhill, one of the top high school middle-distance runners in Virginia, is also entered. She clocked a 2:14.39 to place fourth in this event at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational.
7:10 p.m. – Men's 400 Hurdles
The men's 400 hurdles field will include some of the top performers from last weekend's Penn Relays. Elhadji Mbow of St. Augustine's was the college men's 400 hurdles champion, while Alvin Miles and Reggie Rucker swept the top two places in the Olympic Development 400 hurdles race. Liberty's Andre Washington won the Big South men's 400 hurdles title, while Lynchburg's Rachad Davis was the ODAC champion. Tristan Faure of High Point will contest the 400 hurdles as well, after impressively capturing the Big South decathlon title.
7:25 p.m. – Women's 400 Hurdles
Seton Hall alum Jernail Hayes will look to defend her Liberty Twilight Qualifier women's 400 hurdles championship from 2011. Since then, she helped Team USA capture the silver medal in the 4 x 400 relay at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. Winston-Salem State's Cruz Vargas-Sullivan was the CIAA runner-up in this event. Meanwhile, Liberty redshirt freshman Ansley Gebben tied the program record of 60.57 seconds and placed third in the Big South final in her most recent 400 hurdles race.
7:50 p.m. – Men's 5K
Liberty's Josh MacDonald and Jeremie Bourget headline the field for the men's 5K after finishing second and third, respectively at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The presence of Ricky Flynn on the entry list is also intriguing. The 2009 NCAA Division III national men's cross country champion for Lynchburg College placed an impressive 12th in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
8:30 p.m. – Men's 1,500 Invitational Section
The 2013 Liberty Twilight Qualifier should go out with a bang, as the night's final race will be the invitational section of the men's 1,500-meter run. Liberty's Isaac Wendland will look to make the final home race of his career a memorable one, after sweeping the Big South men's 800 and 1,500 titles. Wendland has run well at this meet during his career, setting his 800 personal-best time of 1:50.22 at the 2010 Liberty Twilight Qualifier and clocking a personal-best 1,500 time of 3:47.12 at the 2011 event. Other top contenders include Wake Forest's Kyle Graves (ACC 5th-place finisher) and Alexander Rose (2012 NCAA Preliminary Round qualifier in the 1,500), High Point's Dakota Peachee (Big South steeplechase champion) and Benji Szalai (Big South steeplechase runner-up), Radford's Brian Gorwitz (Big South indoor mile champion), VMI's Andrey Dmitriev (Big South 1,500 runner-up) and Campbell's Chris Schulist (owns Big South's top 1,500 time of 2013 at 3:48.07).