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Liberty Kickoff Set to Begin Wednesday
Liberty will begin the 2013-14 indoor track & field season Wednesday and Thursday, when the Flames play host to the 10th annual Liberty Kickoff at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.
The low-key season opener, which will feature athletes from Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite, Guilford, High Point, Liberty, Lynchburg and Radford, will get started Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Day two action will commence Thursday at 9:30 a.m., when the women's triple jump and men's long jump get started.
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.
Big South's Best
Last season, the Liberty men's team won its 16th consecutive Big South Conference indoor title, while the Lady Flames finished second to Coastal Carolina. Both teams are looking for strong seasons once again in 2013-14, with a strong core of returnees leading the way.
Bingham, who swept the Big South men's indoor and outdoor pole vault titles in 2013, will compete in the heptathlon. Meanwhile, defending Big South women's indoor high jump champion Willeford is entered in her specialty event on Thursday.
Burggraf and Williams are both coming back off of redshirt seasons. A three-time Big South champion at 800 meters, Burggraf will run the 400 and 4 x 400 at the Liberty Kickoff. Meanwhile, Williams will throw the weight in a Liberty uniform for the first time since winning the 2012 ECAC indoor championship in the event.
Some of Liberty's most promising newcomers will make their Flames debuts at the Liberty Kickoff.
On the men's side, Florida 1A state champion Aklesso Agama will long jump and triple jump, while Messiah College transfer Fred Fulton is entered in the shot put and weight throw. Stephen Racanelli of nearby Brookville High School is set to run the 60 and 400-meter dashes.
Freshmen Jessie Glynn and Brooke Shelton are both expected to compete in the women's pole vault. Seven-time Kansas state champion Oasis Hernandez will run the 60 dash, long jump and triple jump. Mary Witmer will race against teammate Ansley Gebben in the 500, in a battle between two of the Lady Flames' numerous promising young 400-meter hurdlers.
Events to Watch
The multi events are usually some of the deepest disciplines at Liberty's home meets, and the Liberty Kickoff is no exception.
In the heptathlon, Liberty will be led by Cody Bingham and Tevan McIntire. Bingham placed eighth in the IC4A heptathlon final last season, while McIntire placed third in the Big South heptathlon. Their top competitor could be Radford's Phillip Hovatter, the fourth-place finisher in the 2013 Big South decathlon final.
Thirteen athletes are entered in the pentathlon, including five Lady Flames. Liberty juniors Audrey Bamford and Riley Brandon are both past All-Big South performers in the multi events. They will face two-time defending Big South pentathlon champion Kristen Hurley of Gardner-Webb, competing unattached this week.
The men's 60-meter dash will feature a pair of 2013 Big South 100-meter finalists in Liberty's ConRoy Smith and Radford's Joseph Betts. Other athletes to watch include former Norfolk State All-American James Taylor and Liberty freshman Stephen Racanelli.
The women's triple jump could be one of Liberty's strongest events this year, as junior Melissa Rohwer, sophomore Janae Jones and freshman Oasis Hernandez have all gone over 40 feet in their careers. All three are entered in Thursday morning's competition.
After the Liberty Kickoff, the Flames and Lady Flames will not return to action until Jan. 17 and 18, with the Liberty Open.