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Atkinson Breaks Record, Advances to NCAA Quarterfinals
Redshirt freshman Jovaine Atkinson provided Liberty's most impressive performance on a sun-drenched Friday at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet. He clocked a men's 110 hurdles time of 13.93 seconds, breaking his own school record and qualifying for Saturday's quarterfinal round at the University of Kentucky Outdoor Track & Field Complex.
Atkinson placed second in his heat, trailing only Syracuse All-American Freddie Crittenden III. That earned an automatic berth into the quarterfinals, which will be contested Saturday at 7:20 p.m. The top three finishers in each quarterfinal heat and the next three fastest time qualifiers will move on to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Atkinson's time, recorded into a slight (-0.3 m/s) headwind, ranked 14th among the 24 hurdlers who advanced to the quarterfinal round. It also improved upon the Jamaican's school record of 14.01, set at the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C., on April 15. Atkinson becomes the fifth Big South athlete ever to break the 14-second barrier in the men's 110 hurdles.
Junior Carson Waters shared 22nd place in the men's pole vault, thanks to a season-best 16-10.75 clearance on his third attempt. The 2017 Big South men's indoor and outdoor pole vault champion equaled the highest outdoor clearance of his career in the process.
Fellow junior Erin Zappia high jumped 5-6.5 to tie for 37th place in her NCAA Preliminary Round debut. Also making her first appearance at this meet, sophomore Kylie Polsgrove was unable to clear the high jump's opening height of 5-4.5.
The NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will conclude on Saturday. The day's schedule has been revised, including changes to all three of the Flames' field events. Darrel Jones will now triple jump at 1 p.m., Zach Davis will high jump at 3 p.m. and Janae Jones will triple jump at 4 p.m.