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Liberty Men's Outdoor Track Voted Big South Favorite

March 19, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Caleb Edmonds led a 1-2-3 Liberty sweep in the men's 5K final at the 2013 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, followed by fellow Flames returnees Josh MacDonald and Jeremie Bourget.

The 2014 Liberty men's outdoor track & field team was picked to win its eighth consecutive Big South title, as voted upon by the conference's head coaches. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames were tabbed second behind Coastal Carolina.

Head coach Brant Tolsma's men's squad has won seven straight Big South outdoor team titles and 18 championships in the meet's 20-year history. The Flames return 2013 Big South champions Cody Bingham (pole vault) and Caleb Edmonds (5K), while Kyle Wheeler has won four of a possible five Big South high jump titles thus far in his career.

Liberty received nine of the 10 first-place votes and 99 of a possible 100 points in the poll. That put the Flames well in front of 2013 runner-up Coastal Carolina, which took the remaining first-place vote and totaled 86 points. Campbell, the 2014 Big South indoor runner-up, was a close third with 85 points.

High Point received 69 points for fourth place, with Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb sharing the fifth spot with 49 points apiece. VMI came in seventh with 47 points, followed by fellow Commonwealth school Radford (eighth place, 35 points). Championship host Winthrop was ninth with 21 points, with UNC Asheville rounding out the field in 10th place with 10 points.

The Lady Flames, who captured their 13th Big South outdoor team championship in 2013, were a unanimous pick for second place this time around. Four-time Big South 800-meter champion Meghan Burggraf is back from a redshirt season. However, two-time defending Big South shot put and discus champion Mychelle Cumings is expected to redshirt the 2014 campaign.

The Coastal Carolina women's team was a unanimous selection for first place in the preseason poll, gathering all 10 first-place votes and 100 points. The Chanticleers will be aiming for their third Big South outdoor crown in four years. Liberty finished with 90 points, while Campbell (75 points) edged Charleston Southern (73 points) for third place.

High Point was voted fifth on the women's side with 57 points, followed by Radford (sixth place, 49 points) and Gardner-Webb (seventh place, 40 points). Rounding out the poll were the trio of Winthrop (eighth place, 31 points), UNC Asheville (ninth place, 19 points) and VMI (10th place 17 points).

Liberty is preparing for its second meet of the 2014 outdoor season, Saturday at Virginia. The Flames and Lady Flames will compete at the team-scored Virginia Cup for the second straight season, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Lannigan Field in Charlottesville, Va.

The 2014 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships are just four weeks away. This year's meet will be contested on April 17-19 at Winthrop's Irwin Belk Track in Rock Hill, S.C.

2014 Big South Conference Men's Outdoor Track & Field Preseason Poll
1) Liberty (9 first-place votes) – 99 points

2) Coastal Carolina (1) – 86
3) Campbell – 85
4) High Point – 69
5T) Charleston Southern – 49
5T) Gardner-Webb – 49
7) VMI – 47
8) Radford – 35
9) Winthrop – 21
10) UNC Asheville – 10

2014 Big South Conference Women's Outdoor Track & Field Preseason Poll
1) Coastal Carolina (10 first-place votes) – 100 points
2) Liberty – 90
3) Campbell – 75
4) Charleston Southern – 73
5) High Point – 57
6) Radford – 49
7) Gardner-Webb – 40
8) Winthrop – 31
9) UNC Asheville – 19
10) VMI – 17