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Liberty Track Set for Trio of Meets
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Liberty track & field athletes will compete in three different states this weekend, as the team will be divided up between the Texas Relays, Raleigh Relays and Winthrop Invitational.
The Texas Relays will be a three-day competition (Thursday-Saturday) for the Flames, while both the Raleigh Relays and Winthrop Invitational feature Friday and Saturday events.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
The Longhorn Network plans to televise much of the Texas Relays, with coverage slated for Thursday (5-7 p.m., 8-11 p.m. Eastern), Friday (10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 7:30-10:30 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (2:30-6:30 p.m. Eastern). Live results will also be available throughout the meet.
For a fee, live video streaming coverage of the Raleigh Relays will be available through Flotrack. Meanwhile, Flash Results, Inc., will provide live results during the meet.
Liberty's sprinters should enjoy the warm weather in Austin for the Texas Relays, with high temperatures forecasted to reach the 80s this weekend.
The weather in both Raleigh and Rock Hill will see high temperatures around 70, with rain likely in both locations.
Who is Heading Where?
Appropriately, Liberty is entered in six different relay races at the Texas Relays, including the women's 4 x 100, 4 x 200, 4 x 400 and sprint medley, as well as the men's 4 x 400 and 4 x 800.
Liberty will also be represented in six individual events at Mike A. Myers Stadium, including the women's 100 (Abigail Flower and Oasis Hernandez), women's 400 hurdles (Ansley Gebben and Mary Witmer), women's triple jump (Janae Jones and Melissa Rohwer), women's discus (Jennifer Nicholson), men's 100 (Stephen Racanelli and ConRoy Smith) and men's javelin (Steve Feister).
A group of 20 Liberty mid-distance and distance runners will race at the Raleigh Relays. Freshmen Alexis Taylor and Susan Tenberg will drop down to the 400-meter distance, but all other Flames and Lady Flames entered in the meet will run races 1,500 meters or longer.
The remainder of Liberty's athletes will head to the Irwin Belk Track & Field Complex in Rock, Hill, S.C., for the Winthrop Invitational. They will preview the venue which will play host to the 2014 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, April 17-19.
Records in Jeopardy?
A number of Liberty's program records could be in jeopardy at the Texas Relays this weekend. Breaking records at this meet is not unprecedented, as three men's school records fell in three days at the 2008 Texas Relays, including the decathlon (Brandon Hoskins, 7,800), men's discus (Clendon Henderson, 204-3) and men's shot put (Clendon Henderson, 61-3).
The following are four events most likely to see records eclipsed in Austin.
Women's 400 Hurdles: Last season, Ansley Gebben tied the program 400-meter hurdles record of 1:00.57, originally set by Danielle McNaney in 2005. Gebben is in top form right now, as evidenced by her indoor 400 dash time of 55.48 seconds and her solid season-opening 400 hurdles mark of 1:01.25 from the Virginia Cup. She will be fresh for Thursday afternoon's women's 400 hurdles prelims, which will be the Florida native's first race of the meet.
Men's 4 x 800 Relay: The quartet of Jacob Onifer, Colin Schultz, Trevor Hope and John Sherret broke Liberty's indoor 4 x 800 relay record at the IC4A meet, clocking a time of 7:29.15. On Thursday, the same four runners will set their sights on the outdoor program standard of 7:31.60, which has stood since May 16, 2004.
Women's Sprint Medley Relay: Anchored by All-American Heather Sagan, Liberty raced to a school-record time of 3:57.43 in the women's sprint medley relay on March 17, 2001. Adding up the personal-best clockings of the Lady Flames' potential quartet of Abigail Flower (200-23.48), Oasis Hernandez (200-24.37), Ansley Gebben (400-55.48) and Meghan Burggraf (2:06.84) would yield a time of 3:50.17, putting that 13-year-old mark well within reach on Friday.
Women's 4 x 200 Relay: With Liberty's indoor (Oasis Hernandez) and outdoor (Abigail Flower) 200-meter dash school record holders expected to run on Saturday, the program record of 1:37.99 could come under siege. The mark has stood since the 2008 Penn Relays.
Go the Distance
Liberty has experienced a considerable amount of success in 10K races at the Raleigh Relays over the years, especially on the women's side. Five of the top eight performers on Liberty's all-time women's 10K performance list ran career-best times at the Raleigh Relays.
In recent years, Lady Flames Ashley Osborne (35:35 in 2010), Dacia Bushman (35:15 in 2010), Khristina Kanagy (35:21 in 2013) and Meredith Mistretta (36:57 in 2013) have all enjoyed 10K breakthroughs at Paul Derr Track.
If the trend of impressive 10K times is to continue Friday night, sophomore Jeremie Bourget is the most likely Flame to excel. He has fared well at the 5K distance during his career, boasting a personal-best time of 14:29.28. However, the Canadian has only contested a 10K on the track once, clocking 31:32.36 to place fourth in a tactical race at the 2013 Big South meet. Bourget will aim for the IC4A qualifying time of 31:08.
Other events to watch at Raleigh include the men's 5K (2014 outdoor season debuts of Caleb Edmonds, Sam Hibbs and Josh MacDonald) and women's 1,500 (Jacy Christiansen will aim to improve upon her personal best of 4:37.62).
Who to Ask About Winthrop
Many of Liberty's athletes will get their first look at Winthrop's Irwin Belk Track & Field Complex this weekend, enabling them to preview the venue for next month's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Several members of the Flames' coaching staff experienced success during the 2008 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Winthrop. Assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker was the women's 1,500 champion, assistant coach Clendon Henderson won the men's discus title and director of operations Daniel Newell took home the decathlon title.
Big South's Best
Through the early stages of the 2014 outdoor season, Liberty tops the Big South Conference performance list in a number of events.
On the men's side, the Flames rank No. 1 in the 200 (ConRoy Smith-21.37), 800 (John Sherret-1:53.58) and discus (David Scouten-164-3).
In women's events, Lady Flames lead the way in the 100 (Abigail Flower-11.96), 200 (Abigail Flower-24.30), long jump (Melissa Rohwer-18-8.5), triple jump (Janae Jones-39-6.5) and discus (Jennifer Nicholson-155-3).