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Spectacular Performances Abound at Liberty Twilight

May 1, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty's seniors were honored during the final home meet of their career.

Thanks in part to warm, sunny conditions at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex on Thursday, the 2014 Liberty Twilight Qualifier produced some of the top marks in meet history. The day featured two facility records, blazing times in the sprints and an impressive victory by Bershawn "Batman" Jackson in the men's 400 hurdles.

Liberty freshman Zach Davis accounted for one of the facility records, thanks to a big clearance at 7-0.25 in the men's high jump. Campbell assistant coach Ryan Grinnell achieved the other facility standard, triple jumping 52-10.25.

Jackson was one of numerous professional athletes to excel on Thursday, taking home the men's 400 hurdles crown in 49.63 seconds. The Olympic medalist had set the facility record of 49.04 as an 18-year old college freshman at St. Augustine's in 2002.

Meanwhile, Nike's Barbara Pierre won the women's 100 for the fourth time in the last five Liberty Twilight Qualifiers with a wind-aided time of 11.15. Jernail Hayes of Brooks prevailed in both the women's 200 (23.30) and 400 hurdles (57.13).

The men's sprinting events were impressive in their depth, as it took a time of 10.55 to qualify for the 100 final and seven men ran 200 times of 20.89 or faster.

One of 16 Liberty seniors recognized during the Flames' second annual Senior Night celebration, ConRoy Smith got in on the sprinting fun early in the meet. His personal-best time of 10.45 in the men's 100 dash prelims ranks third in program history, trailing only All-American Jacob Swinton (10.20) and Smith's coach, Pete McFadden (10.32).

The meet also lived up to its name for numerous athletes, including the Flames duo of John Sherret (men's 800) and Constand Van Rooyen (men's shot put), who both posted last-chance IC4A-qualifying marks on the afternoon.

Men's Meet Recap
Former Liberty standout Matt Parker, who had held the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex men's high jump standard of 6-11.5 since 2009, enjoyed a good view of Davis' record-breaking leap Thursday evening. Parker was officiating the event, as Davis soared over a personal-best 7-0.25 on his first attempt to win the competition.

Davis, the ninth Flame to high jump seven feet indoors or out, now ranks No. 4 on Liberty's all-time outdoor list for the event.

Redshirt senior Jacob DeValve headlined a very good day for Liberty's men's throwers, successfully defending his shot put title from 2013 with a personal-best 56-3.25 toss.

Behind DeValve, Van Rooyen's personal-best 52-3.25 effort netted second place and made him Liberty's fourth men's shot putter to punch his IC4A ticket this season. Tim Abbott rounded out a 1-2-3 Liberty sweep of the event with a 51-10.5 heave.

DeValve was also part of a 2-3-4 finish in the men's javelin, coming in fourth with a personal-best throw of 199.3. Teammate Steve Feister was second at 207-9, with Daniel Klase third at 206-4.

Abbott hurled the discus a personal-best 170-7 for second place in the event and the No. 6 spot on Liberty's all-time ledger. Big South champion David Scouten followed in third place with a 159-1 discus mark.

Earlier in the day, Scouten had bumped his hammer personal best up to 185-5. That was good for the runner-up spot in the event and sixth place in program history for the redshirt sophomore.

Sherret shaved nearly two seconds off of his 800-meter personal best, speeding to second place in a time of 1:50.92. The junior achieved the IC4A standard and climbed to fifth place all-time at Liberty with the Flames' fastest 800 since Isaac Wendland's 1:50.22 effort at the 2010 Liberty Twilight Qualifier. Freshman teammate Colin Schultz notched a collegiate-best 800 time of 1:53.58 for fourth place.

In the 400 hurdles, freshman Ryan Davis could not keep pace with Batman, but he did improve his time for the sixth straight race. The Big South champion crossed the line fourth overall and second among collegiate entrants in 52.79 seconds.

Senior Caleb Edmonds ran five seconds faster than he did when he captured the Big South 1,500-meter title two weeks ago, but his season-best 3:50.48 effort was only good for fourth place on Thursday.

Fellow senior Nate Jones improved his 5K personal best by 13 seconds, placing fifth in 15:32.04.

Staying in the distance events, Josh Showalter was the third-place finisher in the men's steeplechase final, in a time of 9:43.26.

Freshman Zach Gilroy pole vaulted an outdoor-best 15-3 to tie teammate Ken Ritchey for second place, with both Flames defeating Big South champion Austin Miller of High Point. In his final competition as a Flame, redshirt senior Harrison Allen vaulted 14-9 for fifth place.

Freshman Aklesso Agama was the triple jump runner-up at 47-1.75 and long jumped a season-best 22-5.75 for fifth place. Classmate Stephen Racanelli sprinted to an outdoor-best 200 dash time of 21.43 seconds, but placed only 13th in arguably the meet's strongest event.

Liberty redshirt Fred Fulton was a double winner in the discus (176-6) and hammer (198-11), achieving new personal-best distances in both throws.

Women's Meet Recap
Sophomore Janae Jones was one of two Lady Flames to win her event, leading Liberty's 1-2-4 triple jump finish. She hopped, skipped and jumped to a personal-best 41-0.25 on her very first attempt, moving up to No. 2 in program history in the process.

Freshman Oasis Hernandez took runner-up honors, thanks to a collegiate-best mark of 40-6.25. She now sits third on the Lady Flames' all-time triple jump list.

Junior Melissa Rohwer, who had been Liberty's No. 2 all-time women's triple jumper prior to Thursday, now sits at No. 4 after finishing fourth in the event with a  38-2.75 mark.

Rowher (fourth place, 18-3.75) and Jones (fifth, 18-0.25) both finished among the long jump's top five as well.

Christieanna Apon continued her breakout sophomore campaign with a convincing victory at 800 meters. Her winning time of 2:14.74 was a new personal best by more than two seconds. Freshman teammate Megan Versen also sliced more than two seconds off of her 800 best for fourth place in 2:20.90.

Redshirt senior Meghan Burggraf successfully stepped down from the 800 to the 400 on Thursday. She posted a personal-best 400 time of 56.76 for seventh place in the race and 10th place in program history.

Burggraf later teamed up with Ansley Gebben, Mary Echols and Corinn Bedell for second place in the 4 x 400 relay at 3:49.26.

Liberty also took the second position in the 4 x 100 relay, just one-hundredth of a second behind Winston-Salem State. Hernandez, Abigail Flower, Kate Flower and Rajon Stinnett-Perry notched the team's second-fastest time of 2014, 46.79.

Abigail Flower (11.79) and Hernandez (11.97) both posted their top 100 times of the season during the preliminaries, before coming in fourth and sixth, respectively, in the final. Flower also took home a sixth-place finish with a 200 clocking of 24.51 seconds.

Gebben (1:00.73) and freshman Mary Witmer (personal-best 1:01.80) were third and fourth in the 400 hurdles. Witmer now ranks sixth in program annals with that effort.

Brooke Shelton, Kellie Glynn and Jessie Glynn also shook up the program top 10 list in the women's pole vault, as all three recorded the best clearances of their collegiate career. Shelton now sits sixth on the Lady Flames' all-time list at 11-7.75, a vault which placed third in the competition.

The Glynn sisters are now tied for eighth at Liberty with matching 11-1.75 clearances. Kellie Glynn tied for fourth on Thursday, while Jessie came in sixth. They and Shelton all defeated newly crowned Big South champion Jill Marois of High Point.

Junior Riley Brandon and senior Kristen Willeford each high jumped 5-1 to share third place.

Liberty had a top-three finisher in each of the four women's throwing events, beginning with Yana Babbitt's third-place showing in the women's javelin. The sophomore's personal-best 128-6 mark ranks her 10th in program history.

Junior Jennifer Nicholson's personal-best 165-2 hammer throw took second place, while her 155-4 discus heave placed third.

Senior Rachel Barnes came in third in her final home shot put competition, reaching 43-2.25. Redshirting teammate Mychelle Cumings defended her title from 2013 with an outdoor personal-best throw of 52-3.25.

Liberty will now take an extended break from competition for final exams. The Flames and Lady Flames will be back in action at the 2014 IC4A and ECAC Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, to be contested May 16-18 in Princeton, N.J.