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Flames 1st, Lady Flames 2nd in XC Opener

September 5, 2008
|  Blacksburg, Va.
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Senior Ashley Osborne teamed up with classmate Rebekah Ricksecker to win the women's relay race at Virginia Tech.

Senior Ashley Osborne teamed up with classmate Rebekah Ricksecker to win the women's relay race at Virginia Tech.

The Liberty men's cross country team was victorious at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relay, its 2008 season opener, Friday evening at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Course in Blacksburg, Va. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames opened their year with a close second-place finish to the host Hokies.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Chelanga (Nairobi, Kenya) was stellar in his Liberty debut. His 11:31 anchor leg over the 4K loop pulled his team, which also included redshirt freshman Mark Hopely (Carney's Point, N.J.), from third place to first. The duo's winning time of 48:57 defeated the runner-up team from East Tennessee State by 15 seconds and helped the Flames post 12 total team points. VCU was second with 22 points.

A Liberty duo also broke the tape first in the women's relay. Seniors Rebekah Ricksecker (Laurel, Del.) and Ashley Osborne (Bristol, Va.) teamed up to clock a 45:11, as each of them ran a pair of 3K legs. They outdistanced the runner-up Virginia Tech unit by 49 seconds and contributed to Liberty's score of 13 points. The Hokies nipped the Lady Flames by a single tally by sporting three of the top six relay squads.

Chelanga, a two-time All-American at Fairleigh Dickinson during the 2006-07 athletic year, recorded the two fastest 4K splits of the day, an 11:29 and an 11:31. Josh Edmonds (Jr., Cooperstown, N.Y.) also posted a solid effort, with 12:24 and 12:13 splits. He and Jake Reed (R-So., Marysville, Ohio) finished fourth in a time of 50:30, after Edmonds caught two runners on the anchor leg.

The Flames' final scoring team, consisting of true freshmen Kyle Powers (Waterford, Vt.) and Mike Koech (Eldoret, Kenya), clocked a 51:42 for 10th place out of 30 relay squads.

On the women's side, Ricksecker trailed Virginia Tech's Samantha Dow by six seconds after an 11:25 leadoff leg. However, Osborne reclaimed the lead with an 11:21 split, and the experienced duo never looked back. Ricksecker opened up a sizable lead with her second leg, an 11:08 loop which stood up as the meet's fastest.

Dacia Bushman (So., Castalia, Iowa) and Melissa Martens (R-So., Baraboo, Wis.) teamed up for a third-place finish, in a time of 46:32. The squad trailed Virginia Tech's No. 2 pairing for the first half of the race, before pulling away from the Hokie duo by 27 seconds at the end.

The Lady Flames' No. 3 squad was made up of mid-distance track specialists Jaime Watson (R-Jr., Ravenna, Mich.) and Rod'Esther Castor (So., Hamilton, N.J.). Their final time of 49:40 netted ninth place out of 20 participating teams.

Liberty will return to action on Sept. 20, with its first of two home meets this season, the Liberty Big South Preview. The men's 8K race will begin at 9:15 a.m., followed by the women's 5K race at 10 a.m. Both races will be contested at the Campus East intramural fields.

Men's Race (4 x 4K)
Team Finishers (30 total teams in race):
1) Mark Hopely/Sam Chelanga, 48:57 (Splits-12:49, 11:29, 13:06, 11:31)
2) Kenneth Rotich/Benjamin Ronoh, East Tennessee State, 49:12
3) Jay Wyss/Stephen Mutisya, VCU, 49:34
4) Jake Reed/Josh Edmonds, 50:30 (Splits-12:49, 12:24, 13:03, 12:13)
5) Will Mulherin/Logan Collins, Virginia Tech, 50:49
10) Kyle Powers/Mike Koech, 51:42 (Splits-12:49, 13:04, 12:39, 13:08)
21) Dan Hibbs/Ryan Cox, 54:21 (Splits-13:35, 13:22, 14:04, 13:20)

Team Standings (Each team's top three pairings were scored):
1) Liberty, 12
2) VCU, 22
3) Virginia Tech, 24
4) Radford, 44

Women's Race (4 x 3K)
Team Finishers (20 total teams in race):
1) Rebekah Ricksecker/Ashley Osborne, 45:11 (Splits-11:25, 11:21, 11:08, 11:16)
2) Samantha Dow/Lauren Pinkston, Virginia Tech, 46:02
3) Dacia Bushman/Melissa Martens, 46:32 (Splits-11:45, 11:36, 11:29, 11:41)
4) Jessica Trapeni/Lindsey King, Virginia Tech, 46:59
5) Lori Crotts/Ashlyn Sinclair, Radford, 48:04
9) Jaime Watson/Rod'Esther Castor, 49:40 (Splits-12:14, 12:43, 12:21, 12:21)
13) Blakely Harris/Charis Haldeman, 51:20 (Splits-13:00, 12:46, 12:58, 12:35)
18) Sally Volstad/Claire Smith, 54:17 (Splits-13:00, 13:41, 13:10, 14:24)
19) Denise Troyer/Katie Albright, DNF (Splits-12:31, 11:56, 12:28, DNF)


Team Standings (Each team's top three pairings were scored):
1) Virginia Tech, 12
2) Liberty, 13
3) Radford, 31
4) VCU, 32