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Liberty to Open 2013 XC Season at Virginia
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The defending Big South champion Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will open the 2013 season Friday afternoon, traveling to Earlysville, Va., for the UVa Duals. The Flames and Lady Flames will race against runners from Radford and host Virginia in a low-key season opener at Panorama Farms.
The men's 4K race will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the women's 4K at 5:30, in the first of Liberty's three meets at Panorama Farms in 2013.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
LibertyFlames.com will be on hand at the UVa Duals, and periodic meet updates will be posted to the official Twitter account of Liberty Flames Athletics, @libertyflames.
The weather is forecasted to be warm for distance running on Friday, with a high temperature in the low 80s under partly cloudy skies.
Scouting the Competition
Liberty, Radford and Virginia are the only three squads entered in the UVa Duals, which will be team scored. The host Cavaliers are one of the strongest programs in the Southeast Region, as Virginia's men's team is ranked No. 2 in the region and the women's squad checks in at No. 6.
Checking Out the Course
Liberty will become very familiar with the rolling terrain of Panorama Farms in 2013, as the Flames are slated to run three meets at the course. Liberty will also make the trek up Route 29 to Earlysville on Sept. 28 (Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational) and Nov. 15 (NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships).
Friday's meet will be the first time Liberty has entered full men's and women's teams at Virginia since the Panorama Farms Invitational on Oct. 14, 2011. Caleb Edmonds was the top performer among the Flames' current runners that day, finishing 13th in a then 8K personal-best time of 25:10.16.
How's This for Openers?
Liberty is opening its season at Panorama Farms for the first time since 2006. That year, the Flames and Lady Flames competed in the Lou Onesty Invitational, and assistant coaches Josh McDougal and Rebekah Ricksecker both raced in the meet.
McDougal won the men's 8K in a then course-record time of 24:14, leading the Liberty men's squad to victory. Meanwhile, Ricksecker was the Lady Flames' No. 4 runner, placing 44th overall with a 5K time of 19:59.
After three of the top four runners graduated from the 2012 squad, the Liberty women's cross country team will have a new look in 2013. A dozen newcomers dot the Lady Flames' 20-runner roster, including Kat Bouton, Lindsey Bray, Kaitlyn Hutchins, Kelli Ley, Hannah Owen, Chelsea Page, Mikaela Palelis, Jessie Proehl, Hannah Scherlacher, Kate Spencer, Alexis Taylor and Megan Versen.
Conversely, the 2013 Liberty men's cross country squad looks very similar to the 2012 team. David Ricksecker was the lone senior to graduate from last year's team, while Jarred Cornfield and Josh MacDonald return from redshirt seasons.
Liberty's top five returning men's runners (Jeremie Bourget, Caleb Edmonds, Ngetich Kipchirchir, Josh MacDonald and Will Templeton) have accumulated a considerable amount of Big South hardware between them. Including cross country and track & field, the quintet has combined for four Big South titles and 20 all-conference performances.
Junior Jacy Christiansen is the most accomplished runner on the women's team. During her first two seasons in a Liberty uniform, she has earned five All-Big South accolades, highlighted by the 2013 Big South indoor 3K championship.
In 2012, Liberty won its eighth straight Big South men's cross country title and its fifth Big South women's cross country crown in seven years. Both the Flames and Lady Flames were picked to successfully defend their conference titles in the preseason coaches poll.
Additionally, the Liberty men's team is ranked No. 8 to start the year in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Southeast Region poll.