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Royal Cross Country Challenge Next for Liberty XC
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The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will be back in action Friday afternoon, when they send partial squads to McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, N.C., for the Royal Cross Country Challenge.
The women's gold 5K race will get the day started at 4:30 p.m., with the men's gold 8K race following at 5:15 to cap off the Flames' first meet outside Virginia this season.
Liberty will enter a full women's team, consisting of Lindsey Bray, Stephanie Buda, Mary Cate Cooper, Jessica Gass, Kaitlyn Hutchins, Courtney Russo, Kate Spencer and Megan Versen. Meanwhile, Nate Jones and Jacob Onifer will be the only Flames competing on Friday.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results and in-progress splits will be available for both of Friday's races, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.
The weather will be a bit warm for distance running Friday afternoon, with a forecasted high temperature of 78 degrees under partly cloudy skies.
Scouting the Competition
Liberty is one of 45 schools which will compete at Friday's meet, hosted by Queens University of Charlotte. Duke headlines the list of entrants, as the Blue Devils' women's squad is the meet's defending champion and is currently ranked No. 17 nationally.
The Flames and Lady Flames will also square off against Big South Conference foes Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian College.
Checking Out the Course
For the first time in 2013, Liberty's runners will compete on a flat race course at McAlpine Creek Park. The course is known for producing fast times, in contrast to the hilly terrain the Flames and Lady Flames have encountered at Panorama Farms and the Vista Links Golf Course.
Last year, Liberty senior Jennifer Klugh set the school record at McAlpine Creek Park, racing to a 6K time of 20:35.78 at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. Additionally, four of the 10 Liberty athletes competing on Friday set their personal bests at the 2012 Royal Cross Country Challenge, including Nate Jones (25:10.9 for 8K), Mary Cate Cooper (19:38.73 for 5K), Jessica Gass (18:24.54 for 5K) and Courtney Russo (18:24.98 for 5K).
Looking Back at Last Year
Liberty will be competing in the Royal Cross Country Challenge for the second straight season. Last year, the Flames took home the men's team title in impressive fashion while a short-handed Lady Flames team finished fourth overall.
On the men's side, David Ricksecker, Caleb Edmonds, Ngetich Kipchirchir and Jeremie Bourget swept the top four places, helping Liberty win with a score of 19 points. Nate Jones, who will compete for the Flames on Friday, finished 16th overall and sixth for Liberty in 2012, clocking an 8K personal-best time of 25:10.9.
The Lady Flames placed fourth of 25 teams despite the absence of senior standouts Jennifer Klugh and Khristina Kanagy. Among the Lady Flames' entrants for this year's meet, Jessica Gass and Courtney Russo are the top returnees from 2012. Last season, Gass crossed the line 28th overall and fifth on the team, with Russo right behind her in 29th place.
Not only is this a bye week for the Liberty football team, but it is also one for the Flames' top seven men's and women's cross country runners. They will take this weekend off from competition in preparation for the ISU Pre-National Invitational, slated for Oct. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.