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Liberty Squads Recognized in Preseason Poll

August 18, 2009
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Sam Chelanga (left) and Dacia Bushman return to lead the Liberty cross country squads in 2009.

Sam Chelanga (left) and Dacia Bushman return to lead the Liberty cross country squads in 2009.

The 2009 Liberty men's cross country team has been chosen first in the Big South Conference annual preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Liberty women's team has been picked to finish second behind Coastal Carolina.

The Flames, who will attempt to claim their fifth-straight Big South title this year, received eight first-place votes and 98 out of a possible 100 points. High Point followed with the other two first-place votes and 88 total points. The Panthers finished second behind Liberty at the 2008 Big South Championship.

In third place was VMI with 82 points, followed by Coastal Carolina with 69 points and Winthrop with 55 points. UNC Asheville nabbed sixth place with 53 points, while Gardner-Webb earned 36 points for the No. 7 spot. Rounding out the voting was Radford at No. 8 with 35 points, followed by Charleston Southern with 22 points and Presbyterian with 12 points.

Liberty is led this year by 2008 Big South Runner of the Year Sam Chelanga, who was also the NCAA national runner-up last season, and Jake Reed, a member of the 2008 All-Big South team. Evans Kigen, who placed 10th in the steeplechase final at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, will also make his Liberty cross country debut this fall.

The Liberty women's cross country team was picked to finish second, nabbing three first place votes and 91 total points. 2008 conference champion Coastal Carolina picked up six first-place votes and 95 points. High Point claimed the No. 3 slot with one top bid and 82 points, followed by Winthrop in the fourth position with 64 points. VMI totaled 57 points to finish fifth, followed by Radford with 54 points and UNC Asheville with 39 points. Gardner-Webb took No. 8 with 38 points, followed by Charleston Southern with 17 points and Presbyterian with 13 points to round out the poll.

The Liberty women are led by Dacia Bushman, who was the 2007 Big South Freshman of the Year, and Katie Albright, who along with Bushman, was an all-conference performer in 2007.

Both squads will open the 2009 season on Sept. 4 at the Virginia Tech Relays in Blacksburg, Va.

2009 Big South Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First-place votes) – Points
1) Liberty (8) – 98 points
2) High Point (2) – 88
3) VMI – 82
4) Coastal Carolina – 69
5) Winthrop – 55
6) UNC Asheville – 53
7) Gardner-Webb – 36
8) Radford – 35
9) Charleston Southern – 22
10) Presbyterian – 12


2009 Big South Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll (First-place votes) – Points

1) Coastal Carolina (6) - 95
2) Liberty (3) – 91
3) High Point (1) – 82
4) Winthrop – 64
5) VMI – 57
6) Radford – 54
7) UNC Asheville – 39
8) Gardner-Webb – 38
9) Charleston Southern – 17
10) Presbyterian – 13